Friday Offcuts – 1 April 2022

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Getting boots off the ground has been a call for action for the logging industry for a number of years now. To address the very real safety issues that have plagued the industry for so long and with much more wood being harvested off steeper slopes, mechanisation and automation suddenly stopped being “nice-to-have”. They’ve became a must-have, particularly for larger forestry companies and contractors. As well as improved safety, productivity has also skyrocketed as a consequence.

More recently, Covid and the resultant labour shortages have hit workforces hard, not only in forestry. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of automated systems and robot technology in all sorts of areas. According to McKinsey Digital, the initial Covid lockdowns from a couple of years ago now sprang consumer and business digital adoption forward five years in a matter of just eight weeks.

Looking at the degree of mechanisation that’s been introduced into wood harvesting operations (both on the felling face and on the skid site) in the last few years, this probably comes as little surprise. An article this week looks at the impact that Covid’s had on businesses and whether automation is actually the answer to the labour and productivity woes currently being experienced. We’ve also built in a story on a recent report showing how the pandemic has just highlighted the lack of digital skills and urgent need for upskilling – of both students and our current workforce.

This week we’ve built in another article written by Keith Woodford of AgriFood Systems. He's suggesting that New Zealand’s tree planting efforts, as a consequence of the continual tinkering around with the ETS rules, are a mess right now. Carbon forestry has become the most profitable game in the country and under the current legislative pathway, the so-called ‘permanent exotic forests’ are now the most lucrative option for most sheep and beef farms. The tinkering, including the latest proposal to remove the permanent scheme for exotic forests, has led to a whole host of unintended consequences for both land owners and investors. Maori landowners for example this week have been vocal in their criticism of the suggestion that permanent carbon forestry might well be excluded. Read more in the story below.

And finally, typically on 1 April we add in a story that aims to “pull the wool over your eyes” or add in an article that just doesn’t quite ring true. So, how about this one – it’s one of those “back to the future” stories. It’s a NZ start-up company that’s looking to replace fossil fuelled engines with advanced steam engines. They’re fuelled by burning dry or wet wood chips. No, this one’s for real. The company’s currently building its first fully functional 150hp tractor, having already built and tested a 400hp boiler as a proof of concept in 2021. And for all you engineers’ out there, torque is also impressive, boasting 7920NM, nearly 10x that of an equivalent diesel. This week we’ve included both an article – and YouTube clip that details just how it’s been developed and their plans for the future. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.

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Public share float of Carter Holt Harvey?

One of the New Zealand sharemarket's former heavyweights may be destined return, in name at least, according to Australian media reports.

The Australian Financial Review is reporting that the Rank Group, owned by billionaire Graeme Hart, is looking at a public share float of building supplies group Carter Holt Harvey.

It has reported that investment banks Forsyth Barr and Barrenjoey have been appointed to advise on a float and listing on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges.

Carter Holt is involved in producing timber products, plywood and laminated veneer timber, and also operates the Carters building products chain. The AFR said the businesses targeted for listing had pre-tax earnings of about $150 million and revenue of $1.55 billion last year.

A value of $1b has been put on the group, which has a tentative name of the Building Supplies Group, with about $500m targeted for sale through an initial public offer (IPO).

Source: RNZ

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Early EOI to present at ForestTECH 2022

Despite continued Covid related disruptions to the running of the annual ForestTECH event, ForestTECH 2021-22 ran, albeit virtually as an on-line event on 23-24 February this year. Over 300 delegates from 15 different countries were registered for the event. Feedback has now been collated and the response from those involved, excellent. Feedback from delegates also very clearly told us that;

1. After years of disruption and travel restrictions, this part of the industry wanted to finally meet up again, in person, as originally scheduled in late 2022. In November 2022 it will have been three long years since the ForestTECH community will have met up in Australia. For New Zealand, it will have been two years.

All wanted to get back to the original concept that has worked so well for this part of the industry for over 15 years, a series being run both in New Zealand and Australia. The time is well overdue for this part of the industry to finally meet up again – and to meet key technology and equipment providers, face to face. Travel, border and meeting restrictions in March are easing and it’s anticipated that late 2022 will enable us to meet up, in both countries.

2. Stay with the same two themes; (a) remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory and (b), tree crop management, automated silviculture (including mechanised planting) and forest establishment used in 2020 and early 2022 for the next tech update, ForestTECH 2022.

The ForestTECH 2022 event is now planned to be run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 15-16 November 2022 and again in Melbourne, Australia on 22-23 November 2022. Early details can be found on the event website,

Early calls for presenters EOI:

Again, the very latest developments around remote sensing, data capture, forest inventory, tree establishment, automated silviculture and mechanised planting will form the basis of the technology update – research and trial results, new and developing technologies and key lessons from industry on the integration of this technology into forest operations.

If interested in being considered to present as part of the ForestTECH 2022 event in November (New Zealand, Australia or internationally), please get back to Brent Apthorp, FIEA Director, by Wednesday 20 April. Please include details of suggested content in your response.

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Covid – the tipping point for automation?

Critical labour shortages are the catalyst for companies to finally automate and boost our decades-long productivity stagnation

On December 19, 2013 a 20-year-old Levin man, Lincoln Kidd, was crushed to death by a falling tree – the 10th forestry worker in New Zealand to die in a single year; the 27th in four years. Forestry was setting the wrong sort of records. There were so many deaths, the industry had its own dedicated coroner.

Enough was enough. As the media waded in and the unions launched high-profile campaigns, the Government finally called for an inquiry. The industry’s legitimacy, its social licence to operate, was on the line. Companies needed to dramatically improve their safety record.

The way to do it was to get people off the ground. Everyone knew having workers in big machines with reinforced cabs kept them much safer than having them cutting down trees with chainsaws and, even more dangerous, hooking up cut tree trunks so they could be hauled up often steep slopes.

Mechanisation and automation suddenly stopped being nice-to-have, they became must-have, particularly for bigger forestry companies. From 2013 to 2021, the forestry industry went from under 25 percent of production being mechanised to over 65 percent, says Professor Rien Visser from Canterbury University’s School of Forestry, the country’s leading expert in forest engineering.

Whereas a decade ago the average logging operation involved all or the majority of the felling and hooking-up work being done manually, these days the typical forestry crew, at least in big forests, has everyone in a machine. The death toll has started to fall – over each of the past two years three people died. Too many, but better than 10.

But something else happened too: productivity in the forestry sector has gone through the roof. These days, most crews are harvesting on average 300 tonnes a day, Visser says. A decade ago, 150 tonnes was “a big target”.

Meanwhile, the industry has been able to handle a major expansion, from 20 million cubic metres of wood a year in the early 2010s to 35 million now. And the industry has done that with about the same number of workers, an important factor given increasing labour shortages.

It’s been a slow, painful and very expensive transition. Some of these big machines cost $1-2 million each, a massive outlay for smaller contracting companies that often do the bulk of the work. Some companies went under.

In some hideous way, that unacceptable death toll in 2013 was a tipping point. It forced New Zealand’s forestry companies to do what they should have done anyway, but may not have because of the cost and the risk, because of inertia or union concern about job losses or worries about having to train people to use the new machines.

It forced them to innovate and automate. The initial move to automation and mechanisation was very challenging, Visser says. “Contractors’ cost structures were much higher, and there was huge pressure to be productive all the time.

“But once you have established a level of automation, no contractor would go back.”

More >>

Source: newsroom

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NZ’s ever-changing forestry policy – it’s a mess

More forestry upheavals are coming as the New Zealand Government foreshadows big changes to the rules of the game. Sheep and beef farmers including iwi are the big prospective losers.

In 2018, the Government announced it was moving towards a new regime for New Zealand forestry within the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). The plans included a new so-called ‘permanent forestry’ category for introduced species, also known as exotics. The relevant legislation was passed in 2020 with regulations subsequently added for enactment on I January 2023. Industry has been moving forward on that basis. Things are now about to be upturned.

Over the last 12 months, the Government has been getting nervous about what it had set in place. It took a while, but Government now understands what some of us understood somewhat earlier, that carbon forestry has become the most profitable game in the country. That was not what they intended.

Hence, a discussion paper was released in early March signed off by ministers Nash and Shaw proposing that the permanent forest category for exotics should no longer be introduced. This has really set the cat among the pigeons, as the implications for various groups are recognised.

To fully understand thinking within Government as expressed by its officials, the place to go is the interim Regulatory Impact Statement (iRIS). This was released a few days after the release of the discussion paper. The iRIS is particularly insightful, particularly for those who read between the lines.

Although this impact statement is in the public arena, its release was not publicised and very few people appear to have seen it. I have seen no mention in the media. Quite simply, the iRIS released by MPI as the implementing agency for forestry acknowledges that, under the current legislative pathway, the so-called ‘permanent exotic forests’ are now the most profitable option on most sheep and beef farms.

The key driver of this situation is the price of carbon within the Emission Trading Scheme Right now, as I write, the price of carbon is around $73 having taken a breather from close to $84 just a few weeks ago, but now starting to climb again. The Climate Change Commission thinks the price needs to be about $140 by 2030 and then approximately doubling again thereafter.

However, Government officials were able to come to their profitability conclusions in the iRIS using prices much lower than current prices. So, without a drastic change to the legislation, it was obvious the move to carbon farming was going to be a goldrush.

The problem for the Government is that they know New Zealand needs forestry offsets if New Zealand is to come anywhere near meeting its commitments to the United Nations under the UNFCCC framework. But there is a lot of uncertainty as to how farmers will respond in the face of particular pricing rules. The iRIS acknowledges this uncertainty and this is reflected in it being described as ‘interim’. Essentially, we are all in uncharted territory.

More >>

Source:, Keith Woodford. Keith was 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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Solid biofuel powered tractors being developed

A prototype tractor which can run on solid biofuel is being developed for the primary industries by AgLoco®, a start-up company based in Christchurch, New Zealand. AgLoco® is developing advanced steam engines which burn woodchips (dry or wet) to replace diesel tractors on farms and diesel trucks for hauling heavy loads.

The company is currently building its first fully functional 150hp tractor, having already built and tested a 400hp boiler as a proof of concept in 2021. Their tractor, the AgLoco® 150, is purpose built for energy intensive jobs such as cultivation, harvesting and haulage, which are currently only possible with the use of diesel engines.

The AgLoco® team expect to complete their prototype tractor by November 2022 and it will be put through extensive testing. The AgLoco® 150 will provide producers with a practical and resilient Zero Carbon tractor option and a great opportunity to begin taking the diesel out of primary production in New Zealand and the world.

Chief mechanical engineer and AgLoco® cofounder Sam Mackwell leads both the design and build of the new machine and is optimistic about the progress to date. “Testing of the new boiler technology has delivered exciting results. We are focused on the challenging task of combining our new boiler technology with a drivetrain and chassis for the first time, then hooking it up to a cultivator to show farmers what it can do.”

Significant technological advances in modern steam engines utilised in the AgLoco® 150 include a threefold increase in efficiency, a safe low volume boiler design which has no risk of explosion and the incorporation of a complete combustion firebox which completely eliminates smoke emissions.

The AgLoco® 150 will match the power to weight ratio of a conventional tractor, heat up to full pressure in under ten minutes and run for 4 hours at an average 48% load capacity. Completing a full day’s work is no issue as the AgLoco® 150 takes less than 10 minutes to refuel from empty.

Torque is also impressive, boasting 7920NM, nearly 10x that of an equivalent diesel. Sam has incorporated a patent pending technology which eliminates all wood sparks to prevent fire risk into the design, a risk Sam identified for operating in arid regions. "We realised right away that one of the reasons we don't see steam tractors in use today is because they had a tendency to start fires. That's why we developed the new spark free boiler."

Being Zero Carbon, energy dense and transportable, solid biofuels are particularly well suited for use in heavy load applications such as log hauling and cultivating. “Although steam locomotives are most commonly associated with a bygone era, to rule them out for future use would be a mistake” says Sam.

“Globally, a number of dedicated engineers have continued developing steam technology ever since it fell out of favour. We are standing on their shoulders. The results that they achieved during the past 70 years gives us a great deal of confidence in AgLoco’s ability to meet our performance estimates and take the diesel out of production.”

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Tree planting key to controlling hill country erosion

The increasing frequency and severity of flooding events across New Zealand is highlighting the critical importance of Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s erosion control initiatives.

“Loss of productive land through erosion has a significant impact on the environment, economy and local communities. So, while we can’t prevent storms and floods happening, we can help mitigate against the impacts on people and livelihoods from slips and erosion, in particular by planting trees,” says Alex Wilson, grants and partnerships director, Forest Development, at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Alex Wilson says erosion and its effects in hill country areas alone are estimated to cost New Zealand's economy NZ$250 million to NZ$350 million a year. “Taking steps to reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment is much more cost effective than putting in flood-control structures in the lower areas and cleaning up after a flood”.

“Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service works to protect farmland from storm damage by supporting farmers to plant trees to stabilise land, re-establish vegetation, or retire their most vulnerable areas. Not only does this work retain productive soils on farms, it also reduces sediment entering waterways and potential downstream damage. It is particularly important to build on-farm resilience now in the face of a changing climate,” Alex Wilson says.

The Sustainable Land Management Hill Country Erosion Programme is the Government’s primary means of reducing soil loss on private land - through actively partnering with councils. “Establishing partnerships between farmers, councils and Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service are fundamental to the programme’s success. Since 2007, more than NZ$200 million has been invested in erosion control through the programme. This includes funding from central government, councils, and farmers.

Gisborne-Tairāwhiti is the latest region to suffer significant storm damage, particularly in the township of Tokomaru Bay, which has been cut in half by damage to a bridge on the main highway. “Tairāwhiti has a significant proportion of highly erodible land – three times higher than in other regions across New Zealand”

In recognition of the severe erosion problems in the Tairawhiti district the Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP) was established in 1992,” Alex Wilson says. “Since that time, ECFP has partnered with Gisborne District Council to assist landowners in the planting or retirement of over 45,000ha of the most erodible land features in Gisborne.

“While this is a significant improvement, work still continues to reduce the impacts of erosion on the district; impacts most acutely felt by farmers and rural communities during heavy weather events, like the recent downpours on the east coast.” Evidence of Hill Country Erosion Programme (HCEP) initiatives leading to more sustainable land management can be found in a series of case studies around New Zealand, including in Hawke’s Bay, Manawatū-Whanganui, Nelson, Waikato, and Greater Wellington.

For more information click here.

Comment on recent flooding from the Eastland Wood Council.

In the past few years forest owners in the Tairawhiti region have implemented a number of measures to ensure that harvesting debris from our forests is managed and mitigated. This extreme weather event has provided us with confidence that we are on the right track, and the changes we are implementing are having a positive effect in reducing the amount and size of harvesting debris emanating from our forests. Of course, there is more to be done, and we are committed to that.

What is noticeable after this event is the predominance in the woody debris of poplar, willow and other species of trees not associated with pine forests.

We have a number of methodologies in place, and while no one solution is a ‘silver bullet’ we believe it’s taking a much more informed approach to forestry in general, and using a number of methodologies in unison, that is having an impact. That includes things like reassessing where and how we are planting, excluding some areas that are high risk, and planting other species like natives on land that is vulnerable. We also prioritise carting away logs from unstable areas of the forest.

An environmental focus group, consisting of Eastland Wood Council members, has been established to ensure we are iteratively looking at solutions to reduce the risks from flood events. This includes a Memorandum of Understanding, containing forestry practises that EWC members will undertake to mitigate mass mobilisation of harvesting debris. It is in the process of being peer reviewed by environmental planners and Professor Rien Visser (School of Forestry, University of Canterbury).

We are currently keeping all our heavy vehicles off the road to prevent further damage and allow contractors to repair the roads. We are committed to supporting the community to recover from this emergency and are offering our services with machinery and personnel. At the moment, our members are in planning mode, having undertaken aerial and ground assessments, and now planning for the clean-up phase, supporting our neighbours and community as required.

Source: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, Eastland Wood Council

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Bob Brown Foundation lets down forestry debate

Opinion Piece: They talk about stopping local forestry. But they don’t talk about where the alternative timber will be sourced from.

They talk about stopping a non-deforestation model of forestry that is the envy of the world, that harvests and regenerates only 0.0012% of Tasmania’s land mass per annum to supply critical construction materials to local manufacturers and mills. But they don’t talk about overseas deforestation and the clearing of millions of hectares of forest that will be made into timber products imported into Australia.

They talk about removing carbon from the atmosphere, but they don’t talk about local forestry producing the most environmentally friendly flooring and dressed hardwood available, supplying the market with a carbon storing, natural product that is far superior for the environment than using concrete slabs covered with carpet, vinyl or tile flooring or aluminum windows.

They talk about solutions for affordable homes but are responsible for putting downward pressure on plantation forestry back when we needed trees in the ground to ensure local supply, forcing us to rely on 25% of our construction timber being imported.

They talk about reducing plastic waste, but they don’t talk about forestry providing the very alternative that they demand - natural, biodegradable paper and cardboard products.

They talk about saving the swift parrot but don’t talk about eradicating the sugar glider, an introduced pest that is responsible for 80% of baby swift parrot deaths per annum.

They talk about respect, mental health and people having the right to feel safe, and then they invade a workplace traumatizing staff, vandalizing floors and impacting surrounding businesses, including a full-time disability support outpatient service that specializes in sensory sensitivity.

They feel so self-righteous that they glorify this behavior and justify it without consideration for anyone else and they do it to fundraise and maintain their tax-free empire.

And that’s the problem. They don’t talk. They don’t show respect for others, they don’t engage in meaningful debate. They exaggerate their concerns, they show no consideration for any voice that challenges their hypocrisy, they do not provide solutions.

The Bob Brown Foundation have gone too far. Is this the type of behavior we accept in this day and age?

Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association

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Stirling Logging on building a good team

How can forestry companies look after their teams? See how Gisborne-based contractor Stirling Logging does it with things like top gear, hot food, smart targeting of bonuses and being a good neighbour. And see what their crews think. If you’ve got a story to tell about things helping you to run a better forestry business let us know. These stories are a great way for forestry businesses to learn from each other’s experiences.

Source: Safetree

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A million kiwi workers need more digital skills

It’s not that surprising to see New Zealand needs to upskill a million Kiwi workers with better digital skills, as covid has accelerated the drive to digital for most businesses in New Zealand and around the world, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a new research report which says the urgent need for Kiwi digital skills training became more acute during the pandemic.

NZTech’s digital skills for a digital future report released in 2020 highlighted the decreasing number of students learning digital skills in our education system and the growing need to have digital skills in many jobs.

It also pointed to the lack of focus on upskilling workers and the rapidly growing tech sector, all factors contributing to this massive need for more focus on digital skills in New Zealand, Muller says.

“The AWS research shows while 97 percent of Kiwi businesses see a need to upskill staff with digital skills, only 25 percent are actually doing it. Like our research back in 2020, this report highlights similar issues such as limited awareness of what is available to help Kiwis gain digital skills and a lack of time”.

“The New Zealand Qualifications Authority introduced micro-credentials to encourage shorter courses to support upskilling but a big issue continues to be a lack of awareness by Kiwi business and workers about what skills they might need”.

“The government’s digital boost initiative, focused on encouraging small business owners to take up more digital solutions to make their businesses more productive, is an example of what might also be needed in the general digital skills area”.

“Aotearoa’s digital industry transformation plan, currently out for consultation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has a large section dedicated to the critical need for improving New Zealand’s digital skills in order to ensure the digital sector continues to grow at pace creating thousands of new high paying jobs for Kiwis”.

“There is no silver bullet to this global digital skills shortage, but if New Zealand can accelerate our local response, we stand to gain considerable benefits including creating many higher value jobs, improved employee satisfaction and output, high productivity and high value exports.

“We need to pull every available lever to achieve this, marketing to encourage more people to want digital skills, creating new pathways and opportunities for training, leverage the (often free) training available from large multi-national tech firms to help our workforce upskill, and make it easier to attract and bring in the best possible digitally skilled talent from around the world.”

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A prototype forest monitoring framework

From a forest biosecurity perspective, there is growing interest in forest surveillance processes capable of providing information on foliar disease present within the planted estate.

Monitoring strategies often rely on aerial surveys to provide this information; they are, however, infrequent and only cover a small proportion of the forest estate.

In this article, we present the results of a collaborative project between Scion and Indufor that aimed to develop a monitoring framework capable of detecting Red Needle Cast (RNC) from remotely sensed imagery.

In the past, sporadic outbreaks of RNC (caused by a fungal-like organism, Phytophthora pluvialis) have significantly impacted the growth rates of radiata pine, particularly within the North Island of New Zealand.

First detected in 2008, the pathogen quickly spread through the forest estate. In a bad season and at its peak, it can reduce tree growth by up to 40%. The disease causes a gradual browning of the lower needles and progressively works its way into the upper canopy. Needles are usually dropped entirely by Spring.

Evidence suggests that tree mortality is rare, with needles reappearing within three months of infection. Existing forest surveillance include aerial survey and field reports; however, the randomness, severity and scale of outbreaks can make quantification and detection challenging, especially in remote areas.

Against this backdrop, the project team developed a methodology that uses repeat-visit Sentinel satellite data to systematically monitor broad areas. Initial testing took place within the East Coast region, where there was available expression data to train a model.

Over several months multiple Sentinel-2 images captured the gradual expression of the disease as it progressively moved into the upper canopy. Its impact was quantified using a classification approach that leverages repeat satellite observation with results checked against expression areas mapped from high-resolution images.

“The initial results are very promising and will only improve with more observations of the disease,” says Grant Pearse, who leads Scion’s Geomatics team. To encourage further discussions with industry the team developed a prototype application that allows users to view the results of the RNC detection model.

More >>

Source: Indufor, photo: Scion

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Future Foresters EOI new committee members

The Future Foresters Initiative (FFI) is a committee of Forestry Australia comprising eight students, researchers and early career forestry professionals who are passionate about forests, forestry and leadership in the sector. They are currently looking for new committee members to help them achieve their objectives for 2022 and to define new goals for the future of their vibrant committee.

What they’re looking for?

The FFI committee is planning to meet in person in May 2022 for a planning day where they will set their objectives for the year ahead—they want you to be part of this! They conduct monthly video conference meetings to discuss progress on their objectives and other relevant matters and opportunities. If you are an early career forester or forestry student and would like to help pave the way for the next generation of foresters in Australia, the FFI committee is the perfect opportunity for you.

How to apply

Please send a 200-word expression of interest which details why you want to join the committee and an up to date CV to by Friday 8 April 2022. About the FFI

The FFI was established as a platform for young and emerging forest scientists, professionals, managers and growers to connect with each other and the broader Australian forestry community. FFI committee members have regular conference calls to discuss how Forestry Australia and the forest sector as a whole are addressing issues of importance to emerging foresters.

In particular, the FFI aims to support professional development by facilitating access to networking, mentoring and career development events. Additionally, a key role of the FFI is to engage broadly with Forestry Australia’s staff, board and volunteers, advising them on issues that are critical to the future of forestry and providing guidance on the direction of Forestry Australia strategies and activities.

The FFI is committed to representing the communities in which we live and work. Diversity of thought, experience and background is acknowledged and celebrated and we welcome and encourage applications from everyone across our community.

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact us at and visit their website for more information.

Photo: Young forester in the field - Kylie Kemp, Trainee Forester South, Sustainable Timber Tasmania (Credit: Jenna Hammond STT)

Source: Future Foresters Initiative

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New FAO report outlining wood-based innovations

From drinking a glass of water to building a house, forests are precious resources for people’s lives and are key to solving many global challenges, including the climate crisis and poverty, according to a new report developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the European Forest Institute (EFI).

The publication:Forest Products in the global bioeconomy: Enabling substitution with wood-based products and contributing to sustainable development goals, was launched on the International Day of Forests 2022, celebrated at the EXPO 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The report is a comprehensive document that outlines wood-based innovations that pave the way for the use of forest products in ways that decrease environmental impact and waste generation. It also offers the private sector, governments, international cooperation bodies and researchers a set of recommendations to both enable and boost the substitution of products which are not sustainable from a social, economic on environmental perspective.

To read the full report click here

Source: FAO

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China’s largest timber structure completed

At over 75,000 m2, the new Tianfu Agriculture Exposition is the largest timber structure in China, and one of the largest timber structures in the world. This series of five vaults use unique Vierendeel-inspired trusses which are a hybrid of timber chords and steel webbing, achieving clear spans up to 110m and heights up to 44m.

The Tianfu Agricultural Expo Main Hall is part of a major development program in the greater metropolitan area of Chengdu, which aspires to compete with other major economic hubs in China. Located on the west border of the Sichuan Basin, where up to 5000m high mountains meet Sichuan’s great plains, the wide views of waving rice fields and mountain peaks on the horizon inspired the architect Cui Kai with the concept for the curved timber enclosures.

The unique wave of the building ensemble blends gently into the landscape, but also provided challenges for the engineering team to materialize the architectural scheme into a bold project on a very tight schedule. Housing museums and displaying agricultural products from the region, the roofs of these halls are clad with ETFE but are open-ended, encouraging a direct connection with the surrounding farmland.

The result is a unique series of long-span timber structures, created through cooperation of team members on three different continents in a year and a half, delivering indeed the owner’s desire to showcase the economic power of the Chengdu agrarian region, and provide a world-class attraction through innovative engineering and design.

Images on this timber inspired structure can be found here


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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... the dog jacket

My wife said "here's $40, go get the dog a warm jacket and if there's any money left over, get yourself a beer.

That will work!

And one more for you. Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, surely, I can't look that old? can relate to this then!

My name is Alice smith and I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. I noticed his dental diploma, which bore his full name.

Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my secondary school class some 40-odd years ago.

Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on, way back then?

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought.

This balding, grey-haired man with the deeply lined face was far too old to have been my classmate. After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park secondary school.

'Yes, yes I did. I'm a Morganner! 'he, beamed with pride.

“When did you leave to go to college?' I asked

He answered, in 1965. Why do you ask?

'You were in my class!' I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely. Then the ugly,




....grey haired,


....old man asked...

'and, what subject did you teach?”

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:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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