Friday Offcuts – 28 January 2022

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Yes, it had to come. The kiwis, after Australia has been grappling over summer on how best to stamp out or at least curtail the spread of Omicron in their communities, finally had to face up to its arrival in “fortress New Zealand”. Because of high vaccination rates, the outcome for some events at this stage isn’t quite as harsh as those earlier lockdowns of 2021 and 2020. Measures announced last Sunday mean that industry events planned for early this year, ForestTECH 2021- 22, Residues to Revenues 2022 and DigitalAg 2022 are still likely to run, albeit in a scaled down format. Certainly, virtual registrations to each of these events have been set up, including the upcoming WoodWorks 2022 event for those who are unable or perhaps reluctant in the current environment to travel. Details and further information can be found on each of the respective websites. If anything changes, based on either the outbreak in New Zealand or Ministry of Health or Government directives, we’ll be immediately in touch with all those involved as soon as we can.

This week we’re running with an aeronautical theme. For bushfire management and fire-fighting, a B2 Squirrel helicopter from the state government of Victoria has been allocated to help support firefighting efforts in the Green Triangle region (an area of approximately six million hectares of natural forest and extensive plantings of hard and softwood plantations). This is in addition to a new CH47 Chinook firefighting helicopter, that’s just been added to a now 50-strong aerial fleet will be helping out with Victoria’s high-risk weather season.

James Rennie, a well-known innovator in the use of drones or UAVs in forestry and a raft of other industries looks at just where the booming drone industry is heading over the next five years. Interestingly, when he started his own business, Australian UAV nine years ago, there were just 35 operators in Australia to fly remotely controlled aircraft. Now, only nine years later, there are close to 2,500 registered. Now they’re an essential piece of most foresters – and many forestry contractors – tool kits. They’re being used operationally every day in forests across the region for a myriad of uses. This week we’ve also built in a short video outlining the highs and lows of trials in Australia being undertaken to kit out a UAV to collect forest canopy samples.

This aerial data collection for forest planning and operations is also timely - with satellite imagery and UAV’s playing such an instrumental part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2021-22 event running later in February. Everything from high resolution satellite imagery working in conjunction with applied deep learning and AI for seedling survival counts and weed management through to minimising spray drift from aerial applications and the setting up accurate buffer and exclusion zones are part of this year’s eagerly awaited programme. Virtual registrations for foresters will continue right through to the event being run. Already around 150 have registered from 15 different countries for the virtual attendance so despite the trying covid conditions, an excellent turnout is still being anticipated. And that’s it for this week. Enjoy.

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Tongan tsunami: treated timber sought for rebuild efforts

A collective of Hawke's Bay building supply companies are coming together to help Tongans whose homes have been destroyed build temporary shelter. Following the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga, the companies are fast putting together a shipping container of building supplies to send to the island of Atatā.

Spearheading the response is BBI wood products and Ecko Fastening Systems director Brendan O'Sullivan. He said, "like many, we have been really concerned about the situation in Tonga as we have close friends and employees from this great little country".

Tongans play a really important part in contributing to New Zealand's communities and the RSE workers in particular to Hawke's Bay's horticultural industry, O'Sullivan said. Pastor Unaloto Lolohea, a New Zealand resident of Tongan heritage working at BBI, was well connected with community.

"He told me about the RSE workers and their situation, identifying that they would require special help," O'Sullivan said.

Atata was one of the Islands to be completely devastated by the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, which sent a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean. The tsunami that followed the already destructive eruption was reported to have wiped out all the homes on the island.

"We wanted to do something to help given their link to working in our region," O'Sullivan said. The Tumu Group and Kiwi Lumber are contributing timber, BBI wood products is supplying plywood and Ecko Fastening Systems will provide fasteners, nails and Metalcraft roofing iron, RLB packaging some timber wrap. While water and food was crucial, there will be a need for shelter soon after, he said.

The collective is still looking at some other companies and products to do more. O'Sullivan said, being involved in the building supplies industry himself, it has been a really challenging time for supply.

"But I thought if we could get at least a container of building materials together it would go a long way to help." Over the next two weeks, supplies will be arriving at the BBI Hastings yard, where they will be split into individual temporary shelter packs. If we can get a good handle on additional timber available, we can do a lot more.

More >>

Brendan is reaching out to timber mills in the North Island of NZ to see if they have any available 4x2 or 6x2 treated or any treated timber / plywood suitable for shelter structures for an initial helping hand. Ideally right now he is just seeking any indications for assistance with a view to potentially supplying more containers if sufficient volume is available. Donations of full packets will be delivered ideally to Auckland or the Hawkes Bay for packing.

If you can help out with this effort, please make contact directly with Brendan O’Sullivan at Tel: 021 655 802 or

Source: NZ Herald, BBI Wood Products

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Longest endurance UAV flight in NZ

Kea Aerospace has recorded the longest known flight for an unmanned aircraft in New Zealand, in an electric-powered flight above Kaitōrete, near Christchurch. The battery and solar-powered vehicle flew non-stop for 14 hours and 3 minutes, beating the previous record of 12 hours and 3 minutes in 1996.

“The achievement is an important milestone for the team as we continue to expand our capability,” says Kea Aerospace CEO Mark Rocket. The UAV flight took place in an area above the land managed by the newly established Tāwhaki Joint Venture – a partnership between Te Taumutu Rūnanga, Wairewa Rūnanga (together as Kaitōrete Limited) and the Crown, which aims to heal and rejuvenate the unique whenua at Kaitōrete and advance Aotearoa’s fledgling aerospace industry.

The world is seeing a wave of innovation for electric and solar-powered aircraft. In November, Christchurch-based ElectricAir achieved the world’s longest electric plane flight over water by flying over the Cook Strait.

Kea Aerospace is building and flying a range of electric-powered aircraft and high-altitude balloons as part of the program to build a large 30+ metre wingspan stratospheric aircraft.

The “Kea Atmos” is a solar-powered, unmanned aircraft that can fly in the stratosphere continuously for months at a time. It will carry a suite of imagery equipment that will be game-changing for many industries, vastly improving intelligence for applications such as environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster management and maritime domain awareness.

Mark Rocket says the company is building a new aircraft that it hopes will exceed the international record of 82 hours for a UAV weighing under 25kg, which it plans to launch in February.

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Tasmanian PhD graduates advance forest technology

Forestry PhD graduates Michelle Balasso and Vilius Gendvilas obtained their PhD degrees from the University of Tasmania in December 2021, after being supported by Forico and other partners in their studies at the ARC Training Centre for Forest Value.

The Centre for Forest Value is an initiative funded through the Australian Research Council to provide evidence-based solutions for industry in the forest and wood products sector. As Tasmania’s largest private forest and land asset manager, Forico was an industry partner of the Centre.

“It’s important to build research capability for the forest industry and we are delighted that Dr Balasso and Dr Gendvilas have successfully completed their studies, working closely with us on projects of direct relevance in the sector,” said Dr Andrew Jacobs, Chief Technology Officer at Forico.

Dr Balasso’s thesis examined the assessment of wood quality in standing trees, and segregation of harvested wood for different end-products use to extract the maximum value from the hardwood resource. Using non-destructive testing techniques which employed acoustic wave velocity, she developed a practical segregation and sorting tool for use at all stages of the supply chain, and proposed methods to reliably sort and grade timber boards.

She also studied the modification of timber boards using thermo and hydro-mechanical treatments, densifying them to increase the structural properties for potential use in the timber industry, for high-quality applications.

Dr Gendvilas investigated various aspects of silviculture of the planted Eucalyptus nitens resource, particularly the causes and effects of tree dominance, and the effects of thinning on the properties of trees that remain standing. He will now continue his studies for the sector as a Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Forest Research Institute.

Dr Balasso has accepted a role as Forest Project Officer with Forico and divides her time between the company’s headquarters in Launceston, its plantation forests in the north and northwest, and her home office in Hobart.

“My project spanned the supply chain, from the forest down to timber products for construction,” said Dr Balasso. “I tried to connect the parts of the productive chain across very different stakeholders, because a lot of knowledge is stuck in silos; forest growers know a lot about the forests and their resource, but they don’t necessarily understand what the log processors want from their logs; similarly, log processors don’t necessarily understand what designers or architects require, or what products the planted resource could potentially deliver.”

“These were unique PhD scholarships,” said Dr Jacobs, who supervised Dr Balasso and Dr Gendvilas’ work. ‘Both students spent time in our offices and working with our foresters on issues of relevance to Forico and the wider industry. They have conducted highly relevant research which will positively impact our business.”

Photo: Dr Balasso at a Forico plantation

Source: Forico

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The drone industry in 5 years’ time

When I registered the company name Australian UAV in early 2103 the landscape for drone technology was very different to that that we work in today. There were 35 ReOC holders in Australia (at time of writing this article there are now 2437). To become an operator, you needed to complete and pass the private pilot’s licence exam and CASA had one person employed to manage approvals.

The technology was also somewhat rudimentary compared to today’s equipment. Sensefly were yet to release the eBee and were selling the Swinglet Cam, multirotor drones were very much in the self-build realm and equally scary in size and lacking capability. In 2013 almost no one knew what a drone was or the benefits that could be realised.

So, in what seems like a blink of an eye, the use of drones has exploded around the globe. DJI is still very much the market leader but the investment in companies like Skydio are poised to make a serious dent in this domination.

So, where is the market heading? In my opinion, it is the development of software, connectivity and workflow, not drones, that will drive the changes in the next 5 years, especially in the professional inspection and survey sectors. The level of autonomy and safety features built into the next generation of drones will drastically reduce the requirements to have highly skilled operators ‘on the ‘sticks’.

That is not to say that professional operators will not be required, there will always be a role but it will become more niche and for assets that are not clustered and those inspected infrequently, eg Bridges and mobile phone towers.

I believe that the next round of game changing will be the inevitable move to drone in a box solutions as CASA and other global aviation authorities become more comfortable with the safety case. In this scenario the operators will be able to deploy and monitor multiple drones at a time from the office.

Why is drone in a box an attractive proposition? Australia is a big place, travel and mobilisation costs to the locations that have assets that require frequent inspection or survey often make up a large proportion of the cost (think solar farms, oil and gas, mining sites and bulk ports). That mobilisation also has the risk associated with weather delays and stand down time. Skilled staff shortages are also playing into the drive toward innovation.

More >>

Author: James Rennie.

James Rennie started AUAV in 2013 when he recognised the possible benefits of aerial images and survey to the engineers and scientists he worked with. Living and breathing the technology 24/7 for the past 9 years, James has worked with many diverse industries in exploring the application of the technology and has a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and limitations. James did however think, in 2003, that putting a camera on a mobile phone was a ridiculous idea that would not take off, so his prediction on technological advances may not always be spot on.

Source: AUAV

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UAV’s for collecting forest canopy samples

Last year we detailed a forest canopy sampling tool that was developed by a Canadian company, DeLeaves and is being used operationally, principally in North America and Europe. Suspended under an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the sampling tool is self-powered, equipped with an HD camera, and has two robotic arms there to grab and cut foliage samples from trees.

As detailed, this new tool is going to be showcased as part of this year’s ForestTECH 2021-22 event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 23-24 February. Further details on the programme running in one month’s time can be viewed here.

In Australia, a similar system for collecting foliage samples has been worked on. The video below is part of the paper titled: "Design and Testing of a Novel Unoccupied Aircraft System for the Collection of Forest Canopy Samples" and outlines progress on the system. Four iterations of 3D printed canopy sampling UAS are shown.

Citation: Krisanski, S.; Taskhiri, M.S.; Montgomery, J.; Turner, P. Design and Testing of a Novel Unoccupied Aircraft System for the Collection of Forest Canopy Samples. Forests 2022, 13, 153.

Funding: This research was supported by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE), as part of the Science and Innovation Awards grant program (GA75963). This project was also supported by the Australian Research Council, Training Centre for Forest Value (IC150100004).

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AU$6m investment in Tasmanian wood processing

The Tasmanian Government is investing in our AU$1.2 billion timber and forestry industry to gain higher returns by increasing value-added production and supporting more jobs in regional Tasmania.

Seven projects around Tasmania will share in an AU$6 million investment through our Forestry On-Island Processing Program to help the sector turn existing wood supplies, as well as wood residues, into higher-value products.

All up this injection of funds will lead to a direct AU$23 million investment in modern processing and production processes in facilities located around the State, from Smithton to Bell Bay to Glenorchy.

The projects receiving funding include upgrades to processing facilities that will see more value coming from Tasmanian’s renewable forest supply by converting low-grade plantation timber into high value boards and also construction of wall and roof trusses to be sold across Tasmania and Australia.

The successful projects are:

Timberlink Australia Pty Ltd – AU$1,063,304 to create a finger-jointing and priming line to convert low-grade and short length plantation pine into high value boards, fascia and posts.

CMTP Pty Ltd – AU$2,500,000 to upgrade their Branxholm Sawmill facility to a world class standard, significantly increasing processing volumes of sawn log at increased lengths, with an improvement in timber recovery. The additional sawn timber volumes will replace imported timber.

McKay Investments Pty Ltd – AU$1,049,235 to upgrade truss plant facilities for the manufacture of wall and roof trusses and install an upgraded finger jointing and laminating plant.

Britton Brothers Pty Ltd – AU$689,000 towards a specialised timber recovery line that will join short lengths of timber into useable long sections.

GL & VN Barber Pty Ltd – AU$250,000 to upgrade the existing kiln drying facility and install timber moulding capability to produce sawn timber and by-products from lower grade logs.

Koppers Wood Products – AU$250,000 to upgrade their Longford pine processing facility to reduce waste and significantly increase the efficiency and output of treated pine post-production processing.

Bakes Sawmill Pty Ltd – AU$147,668 for the purchase, installation and commissioning of wood treatment equipment to produce treated timber for a range of products – adding value to what is currently chipped residue wood.

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NZU investors driving carbon prices

As I write this in late January 2022, the carbon price in the open market is $75, with this measured per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). That is an increase of just over 10 percent since the last auction of units by the NZ Government less than two months ago in December 2021. It is also 95 percent higher than the price of carbon this time last year.

The most recent 10 percent increase may not sound much. But the fact that the market price has now breached $70 is significant. It means that there is a developing consensus among players in the carbon market that, at the next auction on 16 March, the Government’s seven million NZU cost-containment reserve for all of 2022 will be exhausted.

If the reserve is exhausted in March, it is likely to be onwards and upwards from there for the carbon price, with three further auctions in 2022 unconstrained by any cost-containment reserve.

To understand what is likely to happen and the implications thereof, it is necessary to understand something about the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). It is also necessary to understand something about new direct investors in New Zealand Units (NZUs) and the effects these people are having.

More >>

Author: Keith Woodford. Keith was a Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd.


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Australia’s GTFA receives new helicopter

Australia’s Green Triangle Fire Alliance (GTFA) has received a B2 Squirrel helicopter from the state government of Victoria, to support firefighting efforts in the Green Triangle region. The helicopter, which has been contracted through the Victorian government and forms part of the state’s aerial fleet, will support more than 300 plantation firefighters working on the ground this summer, as well as a fleet of fixed-wing firefighting aircraft.

The GTFA’s nine-member forestry companies are providing funding for the aircraft to be based at Casterton airfield. The aircraft has a cruise speed of around 110 knots (204km/h) with a 540km range, has an external lifting capacity of 800kg and can be equipped with a 1000 litre bucket.

The aircraft is currently restricted to operation within the state of Victoria; however, negotiations are ongoing with the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) to enable operation in South Australia’s Limestone Coast region.

The Green Triangle is an area of dense forest which covers an area of approximately six million hectares, spanning a border area between the states of South Australia and Victoria. In addition to natural forest, the region also contains extensive hard and softwood plantations.

According to GTFA General Manager Anthony Walsh: “While the fixed wing bombers carry a greater load, the advantage of a helicopter is that it can find water in close proximity to a fire which supports very short turnaround times. The helicopter has already been deployed twice, including providing valuable support at the recent Poolaijelo fire.”

“Other aircraft may leave the region to attend fires elsewhere across the state, but this helicopter will remain at its Casterton base for the 14-week service period until the end of March,” he added.


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Changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative welcomed

The Forest Products Association (AFPA), has welcomed just announced changes to the new plantation forestry method which will streamline opportunities for planting trees and retain current forest lands to help combat climate change.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Hon Angus Taylor has announced several changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology relating to timber production forests which will assist tree companies make the decision to proceed to expand their estates. The changes will also allow new sandalwood and African mahogany plantations to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

Chief Executive Officer of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “Professional forestry experts worked for many months with the Government to develop these changes which will be very helpful for tree planting companies seeking to participate in the Government’s voluntary ERF where eligible activities can earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).

One ACCU is equivalent to one tonne of carbon removed from or avoided in the atmosphere and can be sold by companies to generate income, either to the government through reverse auction or in the secondary market.

Note: The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) will use an improved method to credit eligible projects that store additional carbon in trees. The Australian Government introduced the method following public consultation. It will replace the current plantation forestry method. Existing projects will be able to transfer to the new method.

The new method aims to increase opportunities for plantation forestry projects by providing greater flexibility. It adds 2 new project activities to retain forest on land that would have otherwise converted to non-forest land use:

- continuing plantation activities
- transitioning a plantation to a permanent (not-for-harvest) forest.

The new plantation forestry method is one of 5 priority methods developed in 2021 under the ERF.

Find out more about the method by clicking here.

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Chinook to help in Victorian fire-fighting efforts

The latest addition to Victoria’s firebombing fleet is ready to hit the skies to support firefighting efforts across the state and help keep communities safe this summer. The new CH47 Chinook firefighting helicopter, capable of holding 11,000 litres of water, landed in early January for Victoria’s high-risk weather season and forms part of a 50-strong fleet which has greater flexibility and firebombing capacity than ever before.

It can operate through the hottest part of the day and continue into the night, to give firefighters the best chance to put fires out. The fleet includes two Large Air Tankers (LAT), one of which is new to Victoria. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp to inspect the new LAT at Avalon Airport.

The new LAT can travel faster and require less room for take-off and landing than previous air tankers, making it more accessible to smaller regional airfields and therefore more agile to respond to changing risks across the state. The new additions ensure a more modern fixed wing and helicopter fleet, with technically advanced systems, critical to supporting our firefighters to keep communities safe.

The Andrews Labor Government has invested AU$29 million in the 2021-22 fleet, which includes a mix of firebombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft, with a surge capacity of up to 100 that can support the Victorian core fleet and be called upon when needed.


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New farm forestry program launched

Tuesday marked the official launch of a new, innovative farm forestry program, Decision Tree, in Bunbury, Western Australia. Decision Tree has been designed to rapidly assess the suitability of farms for plantation forestry, as well as provide information and assistance to landowners seeking to plant trees.

Through Decision Tree’s unique assessment tool, farmers or landowners simply add in a few details such as their location and rainfall and the result will tell them if farm forestry is a potentially profitable crop choice. From there, landowners have a choice of investment models and how closely they choose to work with industry professionals to manage the trees and assist in maximising carbon credits.

The South West Timber Hub (SWTH) being one of the key drivers of the Decision Tree project, SWTH Project Manager Wendy Perdon recognised the significance of the launch. “Decision Tree is a culmination of industry collaboration and a lot of hard work, so we are extremely proud for today’s official launch,” Mrs Perdon said.

“Decision Tree will allow farmers and landowners to quickly assess if forestry is a profitable option, factoring in their local conditions, distance to mill, alternative land uses and carbon prices to generate a potential profit margin. If the result generates interest, Decision Tree has different investment models to select from depending on how hands-on the landowner wishes to be in their farm forestry project.”

Mrs Perdon said this was just the first phase of Decision Tree, with further development and program expansion planned for the next 12 months, including turning the assessment tool into a web-based application. The phase two expansion will utilise funding of AU$500,000 from an agreement between the Commonwealth and WA Government.

Examining and overcoming barriers to private forestry was a key activity for the SWHT, with that work being fundamental in the creation of Decision Tree. Input and resources from Wespine and the Forest Products Commission have also been critical to the creation of Decision Tree.

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP officially launched the program warmly welcoming the Decision Tree initiative. “Decision Tree will help landholders determine how beneficial commercial plantations can be on their land,” Mrs Marino said. “This new tool is particularly crucial given the historic lack of accurate objective information to guide farm forestry enterprise decisions.”

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New GLT beam to match changing wood resource

With Australia’s demand for structural pine framing and engineered wood products at an all-time high, pressure has been on the timber industry to ramp up production to make products more available to the market. But what happens when the log resources required isn’t available to produce the glulam beams the market is crying out for?

This is exactly what happened to Hyne Timber’s Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) products. “We were in the same place as many other Australian timber businesses in 2021,” says Stefan Gerber, Engineering and Sales Manager GLT at Hyne Timber. “Increasing production capacity with a new manufacturing plant was our original response to supply more glulam to the market, but we ran into issues stemming from the changing nature of our log resources”.

As a natural resource, wood fibre is subject to the forces of nature and despite improvements to genetics and silvicultural treatment, the high-grade feedstock recovered from the sawmilling operations for GL17 beams has been steadily declining for the past 18-months or more.

While feedstock was on the decline, market demand was growing to unprecedented levels in response to the hugely successful ‘HomeBuilder’ stimulus. And with Southern Pines taking a minimum of 28-years to mature before harvesting, waiting for new feedstock was not an option. Neither was undersupplying a market hungry for a high-grade product.

Over the course of 2020-21, Hyne Timber’s answer was to develop Beam 15 – a high-performance product that’s engineered to handle long spans and critical loads. It is an entirely new grade of GLT that’s more readily available for a record-breaking market.

From conception through to launch, Hyne Timber invested significant resources to make Beam 15 a reality. "It's stretched everyone," says Gerber. "With the launch plan for Beam 15, we're in a good place, but it's taken time. We can't jump manufacturing capacity from one day to the next. We've had to build the new GLT manufacturing facility, we've moved into a large-scale warehouse at the Port of Brisbane to service southeast Queensland in a timely manner and tweak our New South Wales supply out of Newcastle and our Victorian distributors."

Source: Hyne Timber

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On the front line for the tough conversations

If there is one thing that we have learnt this past two years is that the best conversations are had in person. With only 6 weeks in the role as the new General Manager for Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA), Carlie Porteous is already out visiting members in regional Victoria.

On the road daily, Ms Porteous was meeting with members in Victoria’s Gippsland region from Central Highlands to Orbost. East Gippsland forestry operations have been subject to ‘lawfare’ for many years due to regulatory loopholes. The impact to these businesses and others in the state are now being compounded by the illogical Labour government decision to end native forestry.

“This decision is quite unfathomable.” Ms Porteous explains, “Our native hardwood species are naturally regenerating. Like farming, forestry is renewable and the future success is dependent on responsible practices. Many of these intergenerational businesses are harvesting coupes that their fathers and grandfathers before them sustainably harvested.”

With extensive forestry experience, primarily in softwood, Ms Porteous scheduled an in-depth tour to further her understanding of the highly specialised and asset intensive native forestry operations. “It was an opportunity to really see firsthand the scale of these businesses plus care and attention of each operator when grading to ensure each log finds its best value outcome,” says Ms Porteous.

On the mind of many Australians as several state governments are trying to end native forestry is where will replacement products be sourced. The demand from the public for hardwood products like floors, windows, doors and decks still continues.

“If we are not responsibly sourcing the product from our own backyard, where is it going to come from?” questions Ms Porteous. “Thankfully we have many staunch and proud supporters in Government, such as Melina Bath, MP, Member for Eastern Victoria Region. Ms Bath understands the socio-economic contribution of the industry to regional Victoria and to Australia’s sovereign capability, in addition to forestry’s contribution to carbon targets.”

One of the challenges for many AFCA members and forestry businesses during the pandemic was being able meet collectively with industry colleagues and openly discuss the issues facing industry. “Connecting with our members to understand their needs is a priority for me,” says Ms Porteous. “It may be an old saying, but it’s never been truer in these challenging times, we’re stronger together.”

Dinner in Traralgon provided several of the Gippsland’s native forest businesses an opportunity to provide AFCA with direction on how to best represent their needs moving forward. The members made it clear they were invested in the industry as have been their families and the generations before them.

“We need all of the industry to get on board, we cannot do this alone, we are all in it together, especially when government decisions will have a flow on affect for us all,” says local AFCA member Ricky Leeson, Leesons Logging and Cartage.

Ms Porteous will continue to visit these members during this critical time, especially ahead of the Victorian election. Next on the agenda at the start of February is regional Queensland and New South Wales regions affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, such as Tumut, Tumbarumba and Bombala.

Photo: Carlie Porteous, Australian Forest Contractors Association & Cory Kennedy, Kennedy Trailers

Source: AFCA

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New biomass mapping tool launched

Mapping the world’s carbon stores is essential for taking stock of the climate crisis. It informs our climate solutions, the emissions targets’ that countries set and so - it goes without saying - the figures need to be as accurate as possible.

It’s not an easy picture to take, however. Humans are constantly upsetting the amount of carbon in forests, soils and oceans - natural ‘carbon sinks’ that should absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere than they release. So much so that the Amazon rainforest was found to be emitting more CO2 than it sequesteredlast year.

A new biomass mapping tool launched on 13 January takes us ever closer to Earth’s actual dynamics. Chloris, founded by Marco Albani and Dr Alessandro Baccini provides a net view of the planet’s aboveground biomass (AGB), showing how it has changed over the last 20 years.

“The industry practices around carbon measurements in land and forest are still very much stuck in the old way of doing things,” says Albani. The scientists hope their combination of satellite observation, fieldwork and AI can offer greater “integrity” to nature-based solutions.

Chloris has a wide set of applications. It can be used by companies looking to acquire carbon credits or those running projects to identify areas with the highest carbon stock. It can be harnessed by experts monitoring the risk to forests within supply chains.

And, most importantly, it gives governments a more detailed way to meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

Publicly available on Microsoft’s Planetary Computer, a higher resolution version of the map is available for clients at 30 metres. That’s around the length of a tennis court, or the crown of a single, mature tree in a tropical rainforest. Biomass at this level can be measured to give an incredibly detailed global picture.

More >>.


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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... brass monkey

You've all heard the saying, "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". Ever thought where did it come from? A few years back now, it was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.

There was only one problem - how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". And all this time, you thought that was a vulgar expression, didn't you?

One more for you. A guy goes into the confessional box after years being away from the Church. He pulls aside the curtain, enters and sits himself down.

There's a fully equipped bar with crystal glasses, the best vestry wine, Miller High Life on tap, cigars and liqueur chocolates nearby, and on the wall a fine photographic display of buxom ladies who appear to have mislaid their garments.

He hears a priest come in:"Father, forgive me for it's been a very long time since I've been to confession and I must admit that the confessional box is much more inviting than it used to be".

The priest replies, "Get out, you idiot. You're on my side".

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Let's be careful out there. Cheers.

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