Friday Offcuts – 12 August 2022

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Over 320 delegates were hosted this week at the 4th Annual Carbon Forestry Conference run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association. With the policy environment being so dynamic right now, seedling sales skyrocketing and significant activity around investment planning to establish new forestry portfolios to meet growing emissions obligations, the strong line-up of Carbon Forestry 2022 speakers delivered insights into the current state of the carbon forestry industry. Lively panel discussions allowed for a range of question-and-answer sessions throughout the two half-days that the event ran.

How carbon markets and the Emissions Trading Scheme are working were detailed by speakers along with what’s likely to change in future. Experienced forest and asset managers also outlined how the economics of ‘exotics-to-natives’ as a combined investment strategy is set to deliver sustainable investment solutions. There was plenty of networking over the two days and feedback received to date from delegates has been excellent. Given the potential for continued change in the sector, the next Carbon Forestry event has been scheduled for 29-30 August 2023. Detailed information from the Carbon Forestry 2022 event presentations will shortly be sent out to all registered delegates.

A single tree doesn’t make a forest. Well not just yet anyway. A range of precision forestry technologies are being developed and tested at the moment by Scion with a Hawke’s Bay forestry company, Pan Pac Forest Products. Early results from the project are being presented as part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2022 event planned to run in November. The objective is to amalgamate a number of new technologies (increasing the pruning height to 10m using robotic pruning, predicting the optimal planting locations for planting, automated release spraying using one set of GPS coordinates for tree locations …) to enable forest management decisions to be made for individual trees. The payback – when used together - potentially a seven percent improvement in final crop value per hectare across their forest estate. The aim is to make a ‘forest of one’ a reality sooner, rather than later.

We also have plenty of coverage for you today on wood products and manufacturing news. One of New Zealand’s oldest mass timber businesses, TimberLab Solutions has just been purchased by Red Stag, the company running the country’s largest sawmill, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) factory and frame and truss operation at their Rotorua site. Whilst TimberLab has been operating in Auckland since 1958, Red Stag only opened its CLT factory last year. The merging of the two prominent timber businesses will be a major step forward for the local building design and construction communities.

Meanwhile, in Adelaide, plans have been unveiled to build the world’s tallest timber hotel, 31 storey’s high. It’s being built with CLT supplied by a local manufacturer XLam, along with green steel (steel with the lowest carbon footprint currently possible). Plans involve the prefabrication of the CLT offsite, which will be delivered in modules for later onsite assembly. In other news, two large thermal treatment plants are being installed in New Zealand and Chile to process Radiata pine and Henkel Adhesive Technologies has announced that they’re investing in the Australian hardwood technology start-up, 3RT.

Finally we've got another update on 3-D printing. A US University’s Advanced Structures and Composites Centre is developing robotic and artificial intelligence technologies to automate construction using waste lumber, sawdust and construction debris. They’ll be feeding this into a giant 3-D printer (the world’s largest polymer 3D printer) for future home construction. Their target, to “print” a 600-square-foot house in as little as three days, including the walls, roofing and floors.

Remember also to check in on your regular commentary on the current state of NZ log export markets from Forest360. And that’s just about it for this week. Enjoy this week's read.

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250,000 house frames short by 2035

Australia’s housing construction sector faces a serious timber supply gap by mid-century if the nation doesn’t move quickly to implement the billion new production trees plan, a new Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) report has found.

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Master Builders Australia (MBA) says the final report released last week reveals the demand for new housing will rise from an average of 183,000 new dwellings per annum to an average of 259,000 per annum by 2050, driving huge demand for timber. To bridge the supply gap, Australia needs to meet the One Billion New Production Trees goal and not rely on vastly increased imports to fill the gap.

AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said, “International demand for timber continues to surge as governments demand more timber in buildings and fibre to replace plastics to meet laudable climate goals. This is a good thing but will make it even harder to source imports to fill our own expanding timber demands.

“Australia has vast areas of land suitable for timber production, yet our plantation estate has been stagnant – and has even been going backwards in some places – for the last two decades. That has to be reversed and there is no time to lose. Forest industries look forward to working quickly with the Albanese Government to commence the rollout of the $86 million committed during the election campaign as the first tranche of funding required to get seedlings into the ground.”

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, “The severe timber shortages experienced by the industry have put a huge strain on thousands of building and construction businesses and contributed to the inflationary pressures that our industry has been experiencing for many months. The case for increasing the supply of locally grown timber is compelling and will remain so even as COVID related supply chain disruption eases. It’s a move that will support jobs and economic activity in the nation’s residential building sector.”

Source: AFPA

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Forest360 Log Export Market Update

Last month I made the comment that there was some light at the end of the tunnel regarding increases in export log pricing. It appears that the tunnel is quite long and, although we have had a modest lift in pricing of around $10/JAS on average, and we are reasonably confident that the light isn’t a train, we’re not yet sure exactly what the light is, possibly just the flicker of a candle.

The underlying economics of the Chinese construction industry are about as shaky as Robertsons ‘cost of living payment’ and the news seemingly keeps getting worse. The mortgage boycott by owners of uncompleted apartments in the Evergrande debacle has sent shockwaves through the China Communist Party (CCP). The issue has been the cessation of construction work on these projects as the Evergrande company wades its way through financial turmoil.

Mortgage holders have joined forces in protesting local and central governments which has resulted in the president’s office calling on local officials to ensure these projects are completed and pressure going on State owned banks to finance the completion. In addition, a report by S&P Global Ratings highlights the expectation that China house prices will fall as much as 7% and sales will drop by 28 to 33 percent in 2022. This is all a bit untidy with the Communist Party elections in coming months but does show the level of pressure that homeowners are feeling in China at present.

Throw into the mix the US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s one- woman crusade to Taiwan last week to basically flick the bird at Beijing on behalf of Uncle Sam and the CCP is probably losing its sense of humour. This is very unlikely to do anything but further destabilise an already very unstable situation. The old theory that ‘if you are going to kick a tiger in the backside, you’d better have a good plan for dealing with its teeth’ comes to mind here and I’m not sure Pelosi, the third most powerful politician in the US, had completely figured out the teeth plan. Anything that increases tensions between China and the West is not likely to be positive for our exports in the medium term.

On the positive side, the log inventory position is slowly reducing in China as supply drops out of NZ, demand is stable but not yet increasing and global supply is almost non-existent. One of the bigger issues in recent months has been vessel wait times in NZ ports which has added as much as $NZ18/m3 in cost. As supply drops and covid absenteeism tails off in port operations, vessels are getting turned around faster resulting in lower freight rates and, in turn, increased at wharf gate (AWG) prices.

There seems to be a reasonable amount of optimism amongst exporters in terms of pricing for the next quarter, which is encouraging, however we are unlikely to see a repeat of 2021 price spike. NZ supply isn’t likely to swing back into action for a while yet as the current A grade price of around $125/m3 isn’t going really going to set a forest owners’ pants on fire, especially with the additional cost of fuel still taking a large bite out of the net return cake. And it’s wet, really wet. Winter is always a good excuse to complain about the weather, but this winter has been especially bad.

It was perversely encouraging to hear the media report that we have just had the wettest July on record which made us feel better that our whining about the rain has been justified. We are seeing significant damage around many forests with mass land movements not seen before, roads blown out and continual flooding and slips from land that is now super-saturated. In many of these forests we are having to completely change our way of thinking in terms of managing for 50-year rain events once a month.

Carbon prices jumped back up over $80/NZU in mid-July following the governments’ proposed changes to the NZU auction price parameters. At the $80/NZU level, this gives around $2,200/ha/year in revenue on a carbon regime which gives some significant optionality to farmers who have areas of marginal land. James Shaw has buckled under pressure from Iwi groups around the inclusion of exotics in the permanent carbon scheme and now radiata is back on the table as a permanent carbon species. Maybe the reality has set in that trying to establish native carbon forests at large scale in place of exotics is about as easy as holding onto the green party leadership.

Domestic demand for pruned and unpruned sawlogs remains buoyant. Several mills, especially those that rely heavily on private supply, are sailing close to the wind in terms of log supply. This isn’t a factor of the logs being exported, moreover a result of the significant drop in harvest levels.

Demand for framing lumber continues to be very strong around the country, however, pruned mills are signalling a reasonable reduction in clearwood demand, specifically from the states, which supports the media reports of a sharp slowdown in residential construction in the USA due to spiralling construction costs (sound familiar?).

So, all in all, August is a bit more positive than July – not that that would be hard. Summer is creeping closer by the day and markets are looking less negative. The light at the end of the tunnel is still shining, lets hope its Jennifer Anniston with a spotlight not Nancy Pelosi with a lit stick of dynamite.

Source: Marcus Musson, Forest360

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Precision Forestry: A forest of one

A single tree does not make a forest – just yet. Scion is developing and testing a range of precision forestry technologies with Hawke’s Bay forestry company Pan Pac Forest Products in New Zealand to make a ‘forest of one’ a reality sooner rather than later.

A forest of one means that we are effectively able to apply forestry management decisions to individual trees, explains Scion autonomous systems scientist Robin Hartley. The idea is not just conceptual – it is at or very near reality for a surprising number of forestry management operations.

“The future of precision forestry is not just sitting on a lab bench – it’s being used in the forest now,” says Hartley.

Pan Pac is moving to a precision forestry management model at a rapid pace. Managing 35,000 hectares of forestry, Pan Pac is a vertically integrated forestry products company. It uses 725,000 tonnes of logs in its own sawmill and 670,000 tonnes of residual and pulp logs are sent to the pulp mill. Consistently supplying the right type of log to its own mills is crucial and anything that can potentially interrupt that log supply is treated seriously.

Pan Pac forestry manager Sean Wright explains that current precision forestry technologies, when used together, will result in a seven percent improvement in final crop value per hectare across Pan Pac’s forest estate. These sorts of efficiency gains and the ability to de-risk possible future labour shortages will be crucial to help forestry companies thrive and innovate in the future.

“The reality of our industry is that there are not enough skilled labourers willing to take up work in our forests year-round. We need crews working in planting, pruning and thinning at different times of the year and it’s getting harder to source labour in the Hawke’s Bay. If allowed to continue, a shortage of skilled labourers could put future profitability of our processing operations at risk,” he says.

Scion New Value from a Digital Forest and Wood Sector portfolio leader Claire Stewart says it’s heartening to see a forestry company such as Pan Pac, who have a willingness to see things differently, put their own funding towards operationalising precision forestry. “There is an openness to work in partnership to change the way things have traditionally been done,” she says.

Pruning decisions for individual trees - The Pan Pac sawmill requires a consistent supply of quality pruned logs and this means the management of pruning operations is critical. All decisions related to the timing of pruning, which trees to prune, as well as pruning height impact on clearwood volumes.

Increasingly, these decisions will soon be able to be made from remote sensing data and powerful algorithms that consider individual tree qualities, such as tree height, their position relative to other trees in the stand and location. At individual tree level, pruning decisions are virtually impossible to make from the ground. A silviculture work crew cannot effectively evaluate all the factors to choose the ideal tree to prune in a stand, given they are swamped in undergrowth and surrounded by branches. They literally cannot see the wood for the trees.

This means that, by necessity, forestry management works to the average tree. “Average is rarely, if ever, optimal,” says Wright. “Some trees will be pruned too early and others too late and often the wrong trees are pruned.”

To increase the volume of pruned logs from these remotely selected trees, pruning will move from an average of around six metres (the height crews can reach from the ground) to 10 metres, which can be pruned by robots. This increase in pruning height means that Pan Pac can harvest two pruned logs per tree. Ten metre pruning height is at the upper limit of where it is safe and practicable to prune using silvicultural crews, so robotic pruning is a future reality.

Planning where to plant - Scion and Pan Pac are currently working on a model that uses spatial layers, derived from remotely sensed and other data, to predict the optimal planting locations for planting a 750 hectare radiata pine stand. The next step, spraying the site with herbicide, requires some heavy lifting (literally) and that’s where Tauranga based R&D company Envico come in.

Envico has many years of experience using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) for pest control work. Envico director Cameron Baker says they have been trialling a drone capable of applying 20 litres of herbicide in one flight. That would spray about 900 trees per flight. A larger model UAV, which they intend to use with Pan Pac, will spray around 2,000 trees per flight, or around 2.5 hectares. The repeatability of the technology is where it really comes into its own, says Baker.

“The ability to perform follow-up release spraying at the same points is automated by having one set of GPS coordinates for the tree locations.” Precision aerial application of herbicide greatly reduces the total volume applied per hectare when compared to broadcast application by helicopter or potentially spot spraying on foot. There are also significant efficiency gains to be made using UAVs compared to the traditional knapsack spraying methods. When combining remote sensing tools with powerful computer analytics to detect species like blackberry, the same technology can be used to control competing grass or weed growth around individual trees following planting.

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As part of the end of year ForestTECH 2022 event, presentations are planned both in the New Zealand and Australian events to outline how some of these new precision forestry technologies have been applied this year as part of the trial with Pan Pac. Details on the event programmes for both countries can be found on the event website.

Photo: Planting crews in the future could turn up to a site looking like this. This is one of Pan Pac’s recently afforested stands in the Hawke’s Bay

Source: Scion

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Vale JJK (Jim) Spiers - A forestry legend has passed

One of New Zealand's true forestry legends has passed. JJK (Jim) Spiers passed away peacefully on 10 August in Rotorua. He was a good keen man, whose interests in forest harvesting technologies led to his being part of the group to start the New Zealand Logging Industry Research Association in the 1970's, (LIRA, and later LIRO).

He was always interested in learning and developing the NZ forest industry and was a long-time member of NZ Institute of Forestry.

Not only was Jim part of the group to start LIRA, but he was the inaugural director for a decade. His enthusiasm and vision created a research entity second to none with combined industry and state support. A man who deserves his place at the forefront of the history of our industry.

SPIERS, John James Kennedy (Jim). Slipped away from us on the morning of August 10, 2022 at Rotorua Hospital. Aged 99 - a great innings. Wonderful father of Mike, Julie, Pete and Lisa. A celebration of Jim's life will be held at 1pm, Tuesday 16 August, at Osbornes Funeral Directors, 197 Old Taupo Road, Rotorua. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Blind Low Vision NZ in Jim's memory would be appreciated.


Photo: Jim (aged 95 at the time) telling a tale from his new book ("When Forestry Was Fun") to around 500 delegates at the HarvestTECH 2019 Conference run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association.

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Australian sawn softwood imports lift 62%

Australia’s imports of sawn softwood rose an astounding 62.2% year-ended May 2022, lifting to 895,314 m3 for the full year. While weighted average import prices may have peaked in January, there is very real prospect that annualised imports will continue to grow in coming months.

One factor that could sway the continued growth in imports is Russia’s war on Ukraine. The evident tightening in global wood fibre markets is likely to begin having an impact for supply delivered around August and after. To date, the extent of that tightening on Australian markets has been unclear and we expect will remain that way for some months.

Meantime, importers have responded magnificently to the rapid growth in demand, delivering a huge volume of imports and ramping up their supply in very short order, as the chart below shows.

Percentage change is from YE May 21 to YE May 22

There is little doubt, and the data shows this, that importers came to the party over the last year. Led by Germany and Sweden, there were very large increases in imports to meet Australia’s record demand. The sole exception was New Zealand, whose imports to Australia were wound back modestly as local producers worked to meet New Zealand’s own spike in demand.

The only factor that grew faster than import volumes were weighted average import prices, which lifted sharply through 2021 to peak at AUDFob827/m3 in January 2022, before declining more recently to AUDFob739/m3 in May 2022.

A large number of countries provide softwood products to Australia. As we can see below, seven of them experienced very large increases over the last year, and in fact, over the course of the pandemic. Whether all this is sustainable remains to be seen, especially as the big increase from Germany is understood to be related to salvage harvesting.

Looking beyond Germany, supplies from Estonia, Lithuania and Sweden all stand out. Though all are elevated on the prior year, those supplies are linked to major and ongoing supply lines and appear broadly sustainable, should demand in the market support them.

There is little doubt the import supply to Australia has made all the difference over the last two years. The reality is import prices have become necessarily more expensive, both for the goods and on a delivered basis. While shipping and freight costs are gradually beginning to unwind, we should not operate under any illusions about freight costs coming down dramatically.

As Tom Burton addressed in the AFR on 18th July, the expectation is the cost of shipping containers will subside over the next year, but there is no appetite or expectation for the USD3,000 container price to return. The question of the timing of lower sea freight costs is also a matter for continued conjecture because of continued congestion, labour shortages and supply chains that are struggling to find equilibrium.

According to RaboResearch, no real softening in freight costs should be expected until 2024.

How does that all play together? It seems import volumes and prices will remain high for some time to come.

Source: FWPA StatisticsCount, Industry Edge

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Giant 3D printer to build affordable housing

University of Maine scientists think they have a ground-breaking solution to the lack of affordable housing: small homes made with wood fibre using a giant 3D-printer.

Home to the world’s largest polymer 3D printer, the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Centre is developing robotic and artificial intelligence technology to automate construction, which they predict will be faster and less costly than traditional stick-built construction.

The centre, which has received US$30 million in federal funding and US$15 million in state funding, works around the construction industry’s material and labour shortages. The researchers are utilizing Maine wood residuals – which could be scrap lumber, sawdust, construction debris – in the 3D printing process, sidestepping the increased costs of traditional construction materials caused by supply chain disruptions.

The centre’s founding executive director Habib Dagher calls it “solving a problem using a Maine solution.” “We’re looking for a radical solution, a different solution, which isn’t going to happen overnight,” Dagher said. “We’re not looking for a quick fix, because there is none.”

The centre’s “Factory of the Future” will look almost like a next-generation car manufacturing line, Dagher said. Homes will be built in sections, or modules, and eventually delivered to sites to be assembled. “The printer’s doing a piece of the project, whereas the other robots are working with the printer to make it all work together,” he said. “Sensors will talk back to the printer, and then the printer has the ability to correct automatically with AI.”

In collaboration with MaineHousing, the centre is currently building a prototype – a single housing unit, which they hope will be ready for outdoor testing by the end of the year, Dagher said. Eventually, he said, it may be possible to “print” a 600-square-foot house in as little as three days, including the walls, roofing and floors. The technology could someday also be used to create apartment buildings, the researchers said.

Dagher said the goal is for the lifespan of the homes to match or exceed that of conventional housing. Unlike most 3D print construction projects, which use concrete, the UMaine centre’s project will use a new 3D printing material containing Maine wood fibres that are abundant, particularly because of the closure of paper mills.

The centre’s researchers are developing the material in partnership with researchers at Oak Ridge National Labs, a Tennessee laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. By developing the new construction material, they’re bringing down construction costs by essentially adding value to low-grade wood residuals that are cheaper than lumber.

Dagher said the centre aims to “produce the workforce of the future.” The “Factory of the Future,” which the ASCC is planning to have up and running by 2025, will include a training facility for students and industry professionals to learn how to operate, design and maintain the machines and software involved in automated construction.

The “Factory of the Future” is projected to be a $90 million facility, half of which has already been secured. Dagher said the centre’s goal is to raise the remaining half of the funds in fiscal year 2023. Other investors in the facility include the UMaine System, which has allocated $1.5 million, and the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Commerce.

Photo: The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Source: pressherald

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New campaign launched for NZ forestry careers

A new recruitment campaign called ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ aims to draw attention to the varied career opportunities available in New Zealand’s growing forestry industry. A sector-wide initiative, the campaign has just launched and hopes to attract more young people into the industry and fill people shortages being felt throughout the sector.

Designed to demonstrate the huge range of roles and opportunities available in forestry, the mostly digital ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ campaign is primarily targeted at school leavers and young people.

Showcasing everything from machine operation, silviculture and harvest management to science-based roles and wood processing, the campaign attempts to match a candidate’s areas of interest with suitable jobs.

A range of videos have been created, featuring real people working in forestry. A digital platform has been created, that prompts people to answer a quick-fire survey about their interests, before suggesting the areas of forestry that might fit them best.

Over the next 6 months this promotional collateral will appear across media channels including NZ Herald, google and social media – Facebook and Newstalk ZB and ZM.

Find Your Fit In Forestry is funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and Forest Owners Association (FOA) and actioned by the Forest and Wood Processing Workforce Council.

FICA CEO and Project Lead, Prue Younger, says the aim is to showcase the dynamic and diverse forestry industry and to attract more people into the many roles that are available.

“This campaign is unique in that it is a collaboration within the wider forestry industry. We’ve made it broad enough that we hope people will see that no matter what your skills or passion are there’s a place for everyone within the industry,” she says.

“There is an ongoing shortage of skilled workers across the sector, so we’re hoping by targeting young people we can capture hearts and minds from the get-go and place people in roles that fit their interests.”

Find Your Fit In Forestry is live now. Visit to see more. There is also a new Find your Fit in Forestry Youtube channel which houses all videos.

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Red Stag purchases TimberLab

Surging interest in sustainable construction has seen one of New Zealand’s oldest mass timber businesses combine with one of the youngest. After 64 years in McIntosh family ownership TimberLab Solutions has joined the Red Stag group following a share sale completed last week.

TimberLab has been the company behind many of the iconic large-scale glulam and laminated veneer lumber projects in New Zealand’s history. The company also has a significant portfolio of impressive projects internationally. Recognising the need from external investment to develop and grow TimberLab, discussions were initiated with Red Stag in late 2021.

“The purchase of TimberLab was a logical fit”, says Red Stag group CEO Marty Verry. “In many ways, it brought the missing pieces of a puzzle that Red Stag has been building over the last two decades.”

Red Stag runs the country’s largest sawmill, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) factory and a frame and truss operation, whilst TimberLab brings mass timber glulam, LVL and CLT capacity and expertise. Whilst TimberLab has been operating in Auckland since 1958, Red Stag only opened its CLT factory in Rotorua last year.

“The merger allows Red Stag to get a jump start on its growth path by combining two very capable teams and leveraging off TimberLab’s long history and institutional knowledge in the mass timber space.

“This is an exciting merger for the New Zealand building design and construction community,” adds Verry. “It means building designers and developers will be able to work with a single source for the entire building structure, and benefit from early supplier engagement to fully optimise the engineering of wooden structures to maximise advantages. This will make design and supply far simpler and more efficient than dealing with multiple suppliers.”

Verry says the group is seeing strong uptake of mass timber, driven by the desire by government and private developers to address climate change and build sustainably.

The name of the company will become ‘Red Stag TimberLab’.

Photo: Red Stag and TimberLab collaborated on the just-completed Clearwater Quays luxury apartment development

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DNA - transforming the fight against illegal logging

With the right equipment and a little luck, stealing a tree from a swath of land as remote and vast as the Olympic National Forest should have been easy enough.

In the summer of 2018, Justin Wilke, a Washington man in his late-thirties, found what seemed like the perfect candidate for poaching: a big-leaf maple located about a quarter mile from the Elk Lake trailhead on the forest’s eastern edge. A small number of big-leaf maples, which grow from British Columbia to southern California, have a distinctive grain that makes them particularly valuable.

When these trees are milled and finished, they reveal a watery psychedelic pattern that resembles something between a hologram and a Magic Eye image. Specimens can earn a few thousand dollars each at a lumberyard, from which the wood will eventually find its way to specialty furniture makers and luthiers. Wilke needed the cash, and judging by what he saw when he peeled back the bark, this tree promised spectacular markings.

That summer, prosecutors would later allege, Wilke had already poached three big-leaf maples in the Elk Lake area, bringing blocks of the felled trees to his home some nine miles from the trailhead, where he cut them into smaller blocks to sell nearby. Altogether, the value of the wood totaled $4,860. For Wilke, who lived in a run-down trailer, that was a lot of money.

Now he was going after a fourth maple. On August 1, Wilke, his girlfriend Cassie Bebereia, and two associates he’d hired for the job, Lucas Chapman and Shawn Williams, set up camp near the trailhead.

A few hours later, the three men hiked into the forest and began to clear the trees around their target. In the process, they found a wasp’s nest in the base of the maple. Their wasp spray wasn’t effective, so they decided to set the nest on fire. After failing to extinguish the blaze, Wilke and his team fled the scene.

Several hours later, a hiker reported a wildfire. By the time firefighters arrived, the flames had spread to the canopy, making quick work of the old-growth forest. Choking plumes of smoke were visible for miles. Over the next three months, the Maple Fire burned more than three thousand acres of pristine forest.

Wilke was a leading suspect from the start. It was clear to firefighters that whoever had tried to cut down the tree had likely started the fire, and Wilke had been spotted at the scene.

In late August 2019, he was charged with eight crimes, including conspiracy, theft of public property, trafficking in unlawfully harvested timber, and using fire in furtherance of a felony. Prosecutors felt reasonably confident, but to bolster their case, they decided to turn to an unlikely source of evidence: tree DNA.

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Law to protect forestry workers from protesters passed

Strengthened laws to protect forestry workers from illegal protest activity have passed the Victorian Parliament. The Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022, brings stronger penalties to deter dangerous protest activities that puts the safety of both forestry workers and people who illegally enter dangerous work sites at risk.

The new legislation introduces offences and updates existing penalties to deter dangerous protest activities in Timber Harvesting Safety Zones and prevent harm. Timber Harvesting Safety Zones are small and restricted worksites where forestry activities are undertaken. It is illegal for anyone who is not authorised to be in those areas.

To prevent repeated safety risks across multiple Timber Harvesting Safety Zones, Authorised Officers will be able to issue Banning Notices when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed or will commit a specified offence.

The notices will aim to stop individuals from repeatedly engaging in dangerous activities in Timber Harvesting Safety Zones and other forestry coupe areas. Authorised Officers will be given additional powers to search containers, bags and vehicles for prohibited items.

These changes are focused on illegal and dangerous behaviour occurring within THSZs and do not limit normal recreation in forests, or peaceful demonstration in areas where it is safe and legal to do so. This new legislation will bring the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 in line with other similar pieces of legislation in other jurisdictions and in Victoria such as the Wildlife Act 1975.

The legislation will come into effect from May 2023. For more information visit

Source: The Hon. Gayle Tierney, Minister for Agriculture (Vic)

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Henkel invests in Australian hardwood technology start-up

Henkel Adhesive Technologies strengthens its capabilities for timber construction solutions by investing in 3RT, Melbourne, Australia.

Together with partners the company has developed a robotic process to convert forest and plantation residue into high-quality and unique hardwood products. With the investment Henkel aims to further expand its Engineered Wood business and to drive the implementation of sustainable future-oriented technologies.

The investment is made through Henkel Tech Ventures. “As part of our venturing activities we are looking for novel and scalable technologies complementing our existing portfolio in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings,” explains Paolo Bavaj, Head of Corporate Venturing at Henkel Adhesive Technologies. “We believe that the combination of 3RT´s capabilities with Henkel´s unique expertise offers the potential to further expand the market for engineered wood applications."

Henkel is a leading provider of engineered wood solutions globally. Through its Engineered Wood business, the company offers high-impact structural adhesives under the well-known Loctite brand that enable the manufacturing of mass timber products for wooden beams, trusses, walls and floors.

“In order to expand and promote the use of wood as a material in construction and in buildings, Henkel continuously looks for partners with innovative technologies. 3RTs technology allows a more sustainable and innovative production of hardwood products that have the potential for a wide range of structural and decorative applications,” says Christian Fild, Global Head of the Engineered Wood business at Henkel.

Founded in 2014, 3RT has developed a novel automated production process for converting low-value wood fibre into hardwood products. Based on a patented process, 3RT applies a water-based, formaldehyde-free “Nano-bonding agent” that biomimics the structure of a natural tree. The technology platform uses advanced robotics and smart automation to create products of high-quality appearance and is 100% natural and recyclable.

“3RT is focused on continuous improvement both in the fields of new material properties and methods of production to help address the significant environmental and supply challenges relating to old growth forests. In addition to our partnerships with Flinders University and Bosch, this partnership with Henkel will assist in turbocharging our technological advancements and global expansion”, says Peter Torreele, Managing Director of 3RT.

Source: Henkel

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NZ law change for overseas forestry investors

A law change in New Zealand to ensure that forestry conversions by overseas investors benefit New Zealand has passed its final reading in Parliament.

Previously, overseas investors wishing to convert land, such as farm land, into forestry oly needed to meet the “special forestry test”. This is a streamlined test, designed to encourage investment in production forestry.

Associate Finance Minister David Parker said the Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Bill requires overseas investors to show their conversions will benefit New Zealand, by meeting the stricter “benefit to New Zealand test”.

“The existing rules did not give decision-makers enough discretion to determine the appropriateness of investment in a forestry conversion and whether it benefits this country,” David Parker said.

He acknowledged rural communities’ concerns about the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of farm land conversions to forestry. He also acknowledged the economic importance of the forestry sector.

“I want to be very clear to the sector and to investors: production forestry is and will remain important, both to the regions and to support our climate change goals.” The sector is a major contributor to the economy, jobs and rural communities. It employs about 40,000 and is the country’s fourth largest export earner.

“This Bill is not about stopping investment in the forestry sector. It ensures that any investment is beneficial to the country. Productive and sustainable investment is and remains welcome.”

The law change applies only to conversions and does not affect overseas investments in existing forestry land, which will continue to go through the special forestry test. Broader work is underway to investigate the impacts of forestry conversions more generally.

The Bill also includes minor and technical changes to improve the operation and effectiveness of the Overseas Investment Act’s forestry provisions.

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OneFortyOne to export sawmill woodchips

OneFortyOne’s New Zealand’s Kaituna Sawmill and Marusumi Whangarei Co. Ltd, have signed an agreement to export wood chip to Japan with the first vessel expected to depart from Port Marlborough (Picton) before the end of the year. Port Marlborough has been a critical partner in providing logistical support for the trial, including 4,000m2 (0.4 ha) in the port’s Shakespeare Bay log yard currently for the operation.

Tracy Goss, General Manager Kaituna Sawmill said this trial has been three years in the making. “It is part of our growth strategy and an exciting opportunity for us to diversify our wood residues market,” said Tracy.

“The woodchip is a by-product generated during timber production. In the South Island, woodchip is primarily used for making MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and utilised in biofuel and wood energy markets which we support our partners with. This new export initiative complements our existing market in New Zealand, and we now have access to a growth market in Japan.

“The first loads of wood chip were delivered into Port Marlborough last week, and we will deliver from Kaituna to the port every day until November, where it will then get shipped off to Japan,” Tracy said.

Rhys Welbourn, Port Marlborough CEO said the diversification of the port’s forestry industry offering was important for Marlborough. “Port Marlborough supports and facilitates a number of Marlborough’s key industries, and we want to create and deliver long-term value to our customers through integrated services. This is exciting opportunity for us to diversify our wood export offering, and to develop our commercial partnerships with industry leaders OneFortyOne.

Marusumi Whangarei Co has been exporting both softwood and hardwood chip from Marsden point since 1995, predominantly to its parent company Marusumi Paper Co. Ltd, and other end users in Japan and China. The first load is expected to depart Picton in November by sea and will be sent to Japan for use in paper production.

Source: OneFortyOne

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Two TMT plants for the southern hemisphere

Two large IWT-Moldrup thermal treatment plants with an annual capacity of 6,000 m3+ each are being installed in New Zealand and Chile to be used on radiata pine. The IWT-Moldrup plants work with the closed system under pressure, Moldrup-SSP, where the thermal treatment takes place at lower temperatures at around 180 C than the traditional open kiln type system at 230 C.

The process under pressure leaves residual humidity in the wood during the process that works as a catalyst for thermal reaction and reduces the brittleness of the finished product. The plant in New Zealand offers service treatment for other companies while the plant in Chile is for the operator’s own wooden products.

Both plants have emission control systems to eliminate emissions from the plant itself during operation. The market for thermally modified wood especially for cladding has increased dramatically in Europe during the past 2 - 3 years after many years of steady growth since thermal treatment was introduced industrially 25 years ago. A similar development is expected in North America and Oceania.

Source: IWT-Moldrup Asia Pacific

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World’s tallest timber hotel tower – in Adelaide

Cox Architecture has designed a tower in Adelaide’s city centre set to become the world’s tallest timber hotel. Covering 31 storeys and rising 100 metres above the ground, the tower will accommodate 324 hotel rooms, 22 apartments, a “sky terrace” on the twelfth level, and a rooftop bar.

Cox has designed the tower to be built out of cross-laminated timber – a product that is 25 percent of the weight of traditional building materials – and green steel. Developer Thrive Construct said it worked with the architect to develop a structure that is entirely carbon neutral and constructed from renewable, Australian-supplied plantation pine and green steel.

Plans involve the prefabrication of the cross-laminated timber offsite, which will be delivered in modules for later onsite assemblage. The current proposal is an evolution of a 2017 scheme for the site which proposed a 30-storey, 110-metre residential building also designed by Cox Architecture for a different development group – which failed to get off the ground.

Sustainable hotel construction is growing in prominence in Australia. Last month, Sydney’s first prefabricated timber hotel was snapped up by a local operator for about AU$30 million. In 2020, TFE Hotels opened a 220-room hotel built out of CLT and rising 10 levels above an existing concrete building in Melbourne’s Southbank, while SH Hotels & Resorts, will open its first 1 Hotel – considered one of the most sustainable hotel brands in the world – in Melbourne in 2024.

Veteran developer Barrie Harrop’s said genuine sustainability was at the heart of both its hotel developments. “A lot of hoteliers in the world greenwash,” he said. “CLT is the new concrete. Stored carbon, that’s the future.”

For further coverage on this story and sourcing of CLT being planned for this major project, click here


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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... enjoy the journey

An Airbus 380 is on its way across the Atlantic. It flies consistently at 800 km/h at 30,000 feet when suddenly a Eurofighter with a Tempo Mach 2 appears.

The fighter jet's pilot slows down, flies alongside the Airbus and greets the pilot of the passenger plane by radio: "Airbus, the boring flight, isn’t it? Now have a look here!"

He rolls his jet on its back, accelerates, breaks through the sound barrier, rises rapidly to a dizzying height, and then swoops down almost to sea level in a breathtaking dive. He loops back next to the Airbus and asks, "Well, how was that?"

The Airbus pilot answers: "Very impressive, but watch this!"

The jet pilot watches the Airbus, but nothing happens. It continues to fly straight at the same speed. After 15 minutes, the Airbus pilot radios, "Well, how was that?

Confused, the jet pilot asks, "What did you do?"

The Airbus pilot laughs and says, "I got up, stretched my legs, walked to the back of the aircraft to use the washroom, then got a cup of coffee and a chocolate fudge pastry.

The moral of the story is: When you’re young, speed and adrenaline seem great. But as you get older and wiser, you learn that comfort and peace are more important.

This is called S.O.S.: Slower, Older and Smarter.

It is dedicated to all my friends who, like me, as seniors, now realize that it’s time to slow down and enjoy the rest of the trip.

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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