Friday Offcuts – 11 June 2021

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In New Zealand this week, on Wednesday, the eagerly awaited report from the Climate Change Commission (CCC) was tabled in parliament. In it, they laid out a carbon- cutting roadmap for the country with a shrinking carbon budget being suggested from 2022 onwards. While changing the face of the country forever, most of the suggested recommendations would take place within the next 15 years. The commission doesn’t actually have any law-making powers, so the Government’s going to have to make decisions on whether to pass the plan into legislation in its current format. What stays in and what’s going to be left out, will become clearer when the Government releases its Emissions Reduction Plan in December.

Initial comment from the forestry industry is included in a joint response from the Forest Owners and Farm Forestry Association. Comment by the CCC that the current Emissions Trading Scheme ‘will incentivise more production forestry than needed’, according to their response, will only heighten uncertainty and actually discourage future investment in forest planting. Other take homes in the report include; the banning of native deforestation from 2025 along with planting of over 300,000ha of native forests (at least 12,000 ha this year rising to 25,000 ha annually by 2030) and 380,000ha of new softwood plantations before 2035. The full 400 page report can be read here.

And next week, over 330 local and international (virtual) delegates will be meeting in Rotorua to hear the very latest from Dr Rod Carr, the Chair of the Climate Change Commission. It’s all part of the industry’s Carbon Forestry 2021 event being run by Innovatek in Rotorua, New Zealand. As well as giving the conference key-note address, Rod has indicated he plans to attend the full day of conference sessions so industry delegates should have ample opportunity to learn more – first hand – from Rod and other key note presenters on just how the country’s going to meet its own 2050 targets. Late registrations to the event can still be made on the event website.

And moving from carbon forestry to the downstream use of timber and wood products. In Australia, two University of Queensland architectural students have recently been awarded the Responsible Wood Architectural Prize for Excellence in Timber Design for their project work on a fire observation tower in the Brisbane Valley. And half way around the world, in Venice, after months of delays, the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning has finally set up their exhibit at the Italian pavilion, Learning from Trees: transforming timber culture in Aotearoa. It has been designed to showcase the use of timber as an innovative building material from a New Zealand perspective – bringing international recognition to the country’s traditions of working with timber and it’s research on wood products. And on that positive note, enjoy this week’s read.

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Commission’s ETS change risks forest planting targets

New Zealand’s forestry industry says the Climate Change Commission is risking forest planting rates by stating that the current Emissions Trading Scheme ‘will incentivise more production forestry than needed.’ The final recommendations from the Commission were tabled in parliament on Tuesday. The government will be producing an Emissions’ Reduction Plan later this year.

Farm Forestry Association President, Graham West, says he acknowledges the Commission still expects an additional 380,000 hectares of plantation forests to be planted in the next 15 years as a major means of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from the rest of the economy. But he says owners of farmland who are considering planting exotic woodlots may have second thoughts.

“Decision making about the value of carbon when planting trees is already complex enough as it is. Cashflow is a critical factor. Now farmers and forest investors will be looking at even more uncertainty, if carbon credits are under review and may be reduced. The government needs to note that the Commission itself says there is the risk of a perverse outcome of discouraging forest investment through changing the ETS.”

The Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the 380,000-hectare projection of exotic forests, to meet the Commission’s gas budget, was always going to be problematic to achieve, but even more so now. “The net stocked area of New Zealand’s plantation forestry has fallen by 40,000 hectares in the past two years. That reduction isn’t a good basis to put the brakes on plantation planting within the next ten years.”

“After more than a decade, the ETS has only just begun to work the way it’s meant to. That is to incentivise emissions’ reduction. It’s a strange time to pull it back.” Phil Taylor says if the Commission doesn’t get the net emissions reduction it expects from forests over the next 30 years, then the government will have to force tougher and bigger cuts out of transport and agriculture.

Phil Taylor says though, that he’s waiting to see how the government develops policies to implement the recommendations from the Commission. “We are pleased the government already seems to have abandoned its ideas of trying to restrict planting forests on the better classes of land where a quarter of the current national estate is already growing.”

“And it’s important to realise that the forest contribution to fighting climate change is not confined to the trees themselves, but the downstream use of timber and wood products. The Commission’s reference to forests’ role in ‘a thriving, low emissions bioeconomy’ is hugely important for environmental and economic reasons,’ Phil Taylor says.

“The Forestry Minister, Stuart Nash, has also made it clear that the government’s Wood First construction policy really means using timber construction wherever possible.” Phil Taylor says the Commission’s expressed wish for better pest control in forests is largely confined to indigenous planting, but would also benefit exotic forest landowners as well.

Graham West also says there are strongly positive features in the Commission’s report. “The government has been asked to encourage ‘additional carbon storage in smaller blocks of trees on farms’. We hope to see that implemented with some sort of grants scheme.” “We have long advocated for policies which assist ‘mosaic’ landscapes of smaller forest blocks interspersed with other land use. This has been acknowledged.”

Source: Forest Owners Association, Farm Forestry Association

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Closure of Tasman Mill confirmed

Norske Skog this week announced that the Tasman Mill in Kawerau will cease production by 30 June 2021 and that the mill’s assets will be sold. As a result of the decision, employees at the Tasman Mill will be made redundant. The decision to cease production follows a detailed Strategic Review commissioned in September 2020 that looked at a wide range of possible future options for the mill.

Norske Skog’s Regional President, Eric Luck said the key reason for the decision was the ongoing secular decline of the newsprint industry, which had been further hastened by the impact of COVID-19 on Norske Skog and its customers. Mr Luck said the company will work with employees and their union representatives on the implementation plan for the closure of the mill with the aim of making the process as smooth as possible.

“I know that today’s decision is disappointing and sad for many people. It’s the end of an era, but the structural change in the newsprint industry provided no viable alternative for paper production at Tasman. The domestic market for newsprint has shrunk considerably and so too have export markets. COVID-19 has hastened the decline”.

“Norske Skog acknowledges the great efforts of our dedicated team of people at the Tasman Mill, unfortunately today’s announcement is a reflection of the challenges that our industry has faced”, Mr Luck said. The Tasman Mill commenced newsprint production in 1955 and has produced more than 15 million of tonnes of paper during its 66-year history.

Further coverage on the mill closure can be read here

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Contractors hurting after salvage operations cease

The Australian Forest Contractors Association wants Federal and State governments to assist contracting businesses on New South Wales’ South West Slopes. AFCA general manager Stacey Gardiner said that the forest industry recently celebrated the last load of fire salvaged wood hauled to a mill in the South West Slopes.

But for forest contracting businesses and their workers, this symbolised a bleak future, one with no work, job losses and debt in the millions. “Forest contracting businesses and their employees have been working tirelessly to harvest and haul salvage fire impacted wood for over 12 months, under challenging conditions and long hours,” Ms Gardiner said.

“Many of them were also directly affected by the bushfires and were part of the firefighting efforts. AFCA is calling on governments to act now. These businesses need urgent support and assistance to service their business debts, with equipment that no longer has a use or can be sold and support for their workers,” she said.

The forest industry and governments have known this resource cliff has been coming since the bushfires. While there has been support and grants made available to the forest industry to support bushfire recovery, very little to none of this has reached forest contracting businesses.

Forest contracting businesses face a significant reduction in contract quotas in plantation resource in the South West Slopes region. The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has cancelled contracts with forest contracting businesses. New contracts were recently awarded based on reduced volumes which have left many businesses with reduced or no future work and significant exposure with large debts unable to be paid.

“The resource reduction is expected to result in over 50 direct forest contracting workers being laid off by year-end,” Ms Gardiner said. “This includes those that worked tirelessly to harvest and haul the salvaged wood to the mills. The indirect impact on the region, businesses and jobs will be significant,” she said.

AFCA calls on governments who have historically supported regional areas and businesses with assistance packages to support these hard-working small businesses and their workers who have dedicated over a year to bushfires and resource recovery and now risk losing their businesses, homes, and personal assets.

Source: AFCA

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Excellence in safety and collaboration recognised

C3 New Zealand, part of LINX Cargo Care Group, has won the prestigious Best Collaboration Between PCBUs Award at the 2021 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards. Announced at a gala dinner in Auckland, hosted by Safeguard Magazine and supported by WorkSafe New Zealand and ACC New Zealand, C3 New Zealand beat an impressive collection of finalists to claim the title for the first time.

The award recognises C3’s work leading a complex and detailed non-routine operation at the Port of Tauranga in August and September 2020. Set against the backdrop of the global pandemic and faced with potential critical risks including mobile plant, heavy lifting, falling objects, working at height, biosecurity and hazardous substances, the team worked with multiple stakeholders to safely discharge nearly 40,000 tonnes of stowed logs from the stricken MV Funing.

C3 New Zealand and Pedersen Group COO, Gavin Hudson, said while C3 was named the winner, the success of the project hinged on the united and collaborative approach from each of the stakeholders.

“We pride ourselves on our strong and collaborative working relationships with our customers, partners and suppliers. For us, this award recognises not just our work but all of those involved in what was a high-risk operation that has rarely – if ever – been undertaken anywhere in New Zealand.

“We thank all of those involved, including Swire Shipping, Quadrant Pacific Agencies, Genera Biosecurity and the Port of Tauranga for their support, insights and efforts. The trust placed in us to overcome the challenges presented and deliver safely is what we’re most proud of,” said Hudson.

Testament to the operation’s success was that despite the extensive risks and challenges, not one incident or injury was reported, and all the logs were successfully discharged and restowed in line with all operational guidelines and governance requirements.

Photo L-R: Gavin Hudson (Chief Operating Officer – C3 New Zealand and Pedersen Group), Damian Pearson, Hayden Watson, Deborah Cameron, Craig Stewart

Source: C3

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NZ timber installation arrives in Venice

After months of delays, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia has officially opened and New Zealand’s Learning From Trees: transforming timber culture in Aotearoa installation has arrived at the Italian Pavilion.

The design of the project is a collaboration from staff at the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning and explores the use of timber as an innovative building material that is both sustainable and strong. The school was invited to exhibit as part of the Italian Pavilion at this year’s Biennale, which was rescheduled from last year due to COVID-19, by curator Professor Alessandro Melis, a former staff member at the University.

“It’s very unusual for a university from outside Italy to be invited to exhibit in the Italian pavilion,” says one of the project’s designers Dr Kathy Waghorn, “but Alessandro Melis taught at the School, and was extremely interested in the country’s traditions in working with timber, and our research on the material”.

The installation is made up of 436 individual timber ‘sticks’ and 287 brackets that create a lattice-like structure housing a digitally-tooled, salvaged kauri bench. After extensive testing of the construction of the project, it was disassembled into its components and shipped to Italy in February of 2020. The University noted that each of the ‘sticks’ was given a unique label, and each package of sticks was weighed to ensure that it can be carried by two people.

Due to the pandemic, the entire Biennale was put on hold, and thus, Learning from Trees has been sitting in the Venice Arsenale since April 2020. With the Biennale finally opening on 22 May 2021, the New Zealand team worked with the Italian team to oversee the construction of the installation remotely.

Learning From Trees: transforming timber culture in Aotearoa is now on display at La Biennale di Venezia, which runs until 21 November 2021. Click here to find out more about the design of the installation.

Source: Architecturenow

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NZ's forestry product export prices rose 7%

New Zealand’s prices for oil and logs rose sharply in the March 2021 quarter, while import and export prices continued to fall overall, Stats NZ said. Overseas trade index (OTI) import and export prices both fell 0.8% in the quarter to March 2021. Prices remained well below those recorded a year ago, with annual falls of 6.3% for imports and 7.2% for exports.

Terms of trade rose 0.1% in the March 2021 quarter but remained down 0.9% annually. The terms of trade measures the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and is an indicator of the overall state of the economy. A rise in the terms of trade means New Zealand can buy more imports for the same amount of exports.

“Although commentators are predicting rising inflation as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re not yet seeing that reflected in our headline OTI figures,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said. “Instead, we’ve seen modest declines across most goods categories, offset by strong growth in prices for particular commodities, including oil and logs.”

Export prices for forestry products rose 7% in the March 2021 quarter. Within that category, prices for wood exports rose 9.1% over the quarter to reach the highest prices on record, slightly exceeding the previous peak in the June 2020 quarter. “Strong international demand for logs, especially from China, continues to drive up prices for New Zealand wood,” Mr Downes said.

Services import prices rose 12% while export prices fell 0.4% in the March 2021 quarter, leading to an 11.1% fall in the services terms of trade. The increase in import prices was carried by a 52.2% increase for transportation services – setting new records for the largest quarterly increase and highest levels since the series began.

“The dramatic rise in import prices for transportation services reflects increased costs for sea transport,” Mr Downes said. “Container shortages, port congestion, and increasing demand for consumer goods has led to increased shipping costs around the world.”

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Record program for NSW replanting

North coast NSW’s State forest hardwood plantations will see a flurry of activity this planting season, with a record one million eucalypt seedlings set to be planted. Forestry Corporation had targeted its plantation forests for harvesting over the last 12 months to help keep up with strong demands in the building industry, setting the scene for the record 2021 planting season, said Roading and Plantations Manager, Craig Busby.

“In a normal year, we plant around half a million eucalypt seedlings in north coast State forest timber plantations, but this year our hardwood plantation replanting program has doubled. The increased hardwood replanting program is part of our largest-ever program across the state, as we also replant the fire-affected softwood plantations”.

More than 14 million seedlings will be replanted across all State forests this year. Forestry Corporation recently doubled the capacity of the Grafton Nursery to support this bumper replanting program.

Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW

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Australian businesses gain access to space data

The Morrison Government is helping small businesses to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing space sector, with the recent opening of the Australian Space Data Analysis Facility (ASDAF) in Western Australia.

The facility – delivered by the Pawsey Supercomputer Centre in partnership with the Western Australia Data Science Innovation Hub – provides businesses with access to the latest satellite data sets, as well as the tools and training they need to analyse that information and develop new commercial opportunities.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said the uses for satellite data were almost limitless, but the costs associated with accessing and analysing big data sets was a barrier to small businesses entering the space sector.

“The potential uses for this data are diverse and extremely important for our everyday lives, including helping farmers increase crop yields and manage drought, to mapping supply chains and freight movements, or improving management of environmental impacts in forestry and mining,” Minister Porter said.

“Through the data analysis facility, we are opening the door for small businesses to enter the market, with the goal of stimulating innovation and accelerating commercialisation of new products and services.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said space data and Earth observation analysis have historically been a specialised application in the private sector. “Putting the right space data, tools and capabilities in the hands of business has the potential to drive down costs, increase productivity, create new value and grow the economy,” Mr Palermo said.

The Australian Space Data Analysis Facility is funded through the Australian Government’s AU$19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund, designed to increase capability and fill gaps in Australia’s space infrastructure. The Facility is also supported by the Western Australian Government, through an AU$750,000 commitment to grow the state’s space industry.

Since 1 July 2018, the Australian Government has invested more than AU$700 million into the Australian civil space sector under the goal to triple the sector’s size to AU$12 billion and create up to an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.

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Forestry Scholarships open for 2022

Nine more New Zealander's can study for a career in forestry and wood processing with applications for the 2022 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships are now open.

“It is an exciting time to be studying and working in the forestry and wood processing sector and to open the 2022 scholarships to applicants across the country as a pathway to future careers,” says Debbie Ward, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s Director, Business and Spatial Intelligence.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is funding three new scholarships for the Diploma in Forest Management at Toi Ohomoi Institute of Technology in Rotorua. This is in addition to six scholarships for those enrolling in a Bachelor of Forestry Science or a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Forest Engineering at the University of Canterbury.

“The scholarships are a pathway to higher-level study and students will gain the skills, expertise, and capabilities the forestry and wood processing sector needs now and into the future. Through partnering with industry, students are offered internships over summer so they can put their learning into action and gain practical, hands-on workplace experience,” says Debbie Ward.

”We are especially keen to hear from students who are Māori and/or identify as female, as a key focus for the programme is to increase diversity amongst students and the sector workforce.” Two new videos have also been launched promoting the scholarship programme and high-level forestry study. “The videos include our current scholarship recipients talking about the programme and the value and benefits they are getting from studying forestry”.

“People watching may be surprised at the wide and diverse range of career options, including science, production management, business and resource management, conservation, engineering, and technology. This is clearly demonstrated when the students talk about the different fields they are studying, their experiences during their internships, and their enthusiasm about what their future careers in forestry may bring”.

Applications for all scholarships close on 15 August 2021. To watch the new promotional videos and for more information about Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, click here

Source: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service

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Indigenous fungus may help to control wilding pines

An indigenous New Zealand fungus may help to control wilding pines – one of the country’s most ecologically damaging weed species – a student’s research project shows.

Wilding pine control costs New Zealand millions of dollars a year, and involves the costly and time-consuming methods of cutting down the trees and spraying herbicide from the air. Control seldom totally eradicates the pines, which often reinvade sites some years later.

Armillaria novae-zealandiae, also known by Māori as harore, is a fungus that feeds on decaying wood. It is common in native forests, where it is a natural part of the ecosystem, helping to decay fallen trees. But if it gets into pine plantations it is seriously destructive, killing seedlings and reducing growth.

In a Bio-Protection Research Centre student research programme, biology student Genevieve Early, investigated how well A. novae-zealandiae and two closely related species established on wilding pine species.

Supervised by BPRC principal investigator and University of Canterbury Professor Ian Dickie and his colleague Dr John Pirker, she tested what age of wood it grew best on (ranging from live and freshly harvested wood to old and decayed wood). “The research aimed to address knowledge gaps in our understanding of Amillaria, and eventually investigate whether we could use it as a biological control of invasive pines,” says Genevieve.

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You can view a video of Genevieve Early presenting her research below.

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Connection with next generation of architectural leaders

Two University of Queensland architectural students have been awarded the Responsible Wood Architectural Prize for Excellence in Timber Design for their research paper and model on the construction of a fire observation tower in the Brisbane Valley region.

The students, Dylan Francks and Simin Louei, assisted by Matthew Walton, Alec Hutchinson and Emile Hildebrandt, presented research design and models for the Emu Creek Observation Tower, which uses culturally sustainable participatory principles.

It has been argued that the emphasis of sustainable development within the field of architecture has been mostly concentrated on environmental ‘green issues’, with the aspects of culture lying outside the scope of research for many years. However, in recent times, there appears to be growing interest among scholars to emphasise the important role that culture plays within the maintenance of sustainable development.

The project, completed for the requirements of ARCH7071: Arch Research: Environmental Sustainability, looked to establish the region as a new travel destination for campers and adventurers within southeast Queensland. The on-site facilities include camping grounds, 4×4 tracks, a water sports activity area, raised walking tracks, horse stables, an auditorium, zip lines and a 30 m tall fire lookout tower.

The polyhedral tower is constructed from more than 200 singular prefabricated panels which are attached to a larger superstructure. The panels act as a perforated screens or louvres, shading visitors from the harsh Queensland sun as they climb to the observation platform at the top of the tower. Once visitors reach the peak, they are rewarded with a view of the surrounding Brisbane Valley and mountain ranges.

The tower design incorporates locally-sourced under-utilised grey ironbark (Eucalyptus drepanophylla), a timber abundant in the region which can be found in one of the many nearby timber plantations, with the tower acting as an “ode to the region’s colonial past”.

Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries said the award provided an ideal opportunity to connect with the next generation of leaders in architectural design – a generation increasingly concerned with the wellbeing of global forests. As the students Dylan and Simin suggest there could be significant issues of sustainable development that will be missed if the role of culture is undermined, with culture itself providing a necessary foundation and condition to reach sustainable development goals.

In addition to the architectural prize, a Responsible Wood Civil Engineering Prize was also presented to UQ students William Webster and Duncan Hossy.

Photo: University of Queensland architectural students at work on the design of a fire observation tower in the Brisbane Valley – Emilie Hildebrandt, Simin Louei, Alec Hutchinson, Matthew Walton and Dylan Francis

Source: Responsible Wood

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The town where money really does grow on trees

In Skagway, the gateway to the Klondike, spruce tips play an important role in the local economy, with locals and visitors trading them for cash and goods.

A year after moving to Skagway, Alaska, John Sasfai walked into Skagway Brewing Co. and ordered the signature Spruce Tip Blonde Ale. But instead of pulling out his wallet, the guide for Klondike Tours put a sack of spruce tips on the bar to pay his tab.

That’s because in this town, the bounty he foraged from trees near Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park serves as a currency.

This village, with a year-round population just shy of 1,000, is notably remote – it’s about 100 miles north of Juneau and 800 miles south-east of Anchorage by car. And though stampeders established Skagway during the late-19th-Century gold rush, these days the nuggets of value are plucked from the forest, not panned or mined.

While spruce tips – the buds that develop on the ends of spruce tree branches – are only good for cash at Skagway Brewing Co., bartering with spruce tips for food, firewood or coffee (which are delivered by barge once a week) is not uncommon.

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Source: BBC

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... man of the house?

The husband had just finished reading a new book: 'YOU CAN BE THE MAN OF YOUR HOUSE.'

He stormed into the kitchen and walked directly up to his wife.

Pointing a finger in her face, he said sternly, "From now on, YOU need to know that I AM the MAN of this house, and my word is law!

You will prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I'm finished eating my meal, you will serve me a sumptuous dessert afterward. Then, after dinner, you are going to go upstairs with me.

After that, you are going to draw me my bath so I can relax. You will wash my back and towel me dry and bring me my robe.

Then you will massage my feet and hands. Then after that's done, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?"

His wife replied, "The ******* funeral director would be my guess."

And one more. A new strain of COVID has been found - this time from Scotland. At least you'll hear it coming.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

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