Friday Offcuts 14 October 2022
Comments from Climate Change Minister James Shaw about the option of centralising buying carbon credits in central government, and decoupling the Emissions Trading Scheme from forestry attracted criticism. A new report from NZ’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment suggesting that up to 5.8 million hectares of pine would be required for the country to achieve methane-neutrality also received plenty of media attention. That’s the equivalent of two out of every three paddocks in the country that would need to be planted out. An interesting read but Keith Woodford, a Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems, one of three people reviewing an earlier draft of the report, had quite a different take on some of the underlying figures and assumptions that had been used. He says the conclusions drawn would be different if long-rotation forests or so- called permanent exotic forests, possibly transitioning eventually to native forests were used in the calculations. Articles and links to reports are covered in this week's issue.
Looking to log markets, we bring you another informative, and as always, entertaining read on the current state of the NZ log export market. Read more from the team at Forest360 in their monthly update.
In wood processing news, a new state-of-the-art EUR 260 million pine sawmill in Finland (producing 750,000 cubic metres of pine sawn timber per annum) has just started full production. It’s the largest sawmill investment ever made in Finland and it’s already being touted as a world leader for new sawmilling technology including machine vision, self-learning artificial intelligence and integrated information systems that control the mill’s saw- lines.
The maximum sawing speed of Metsä Fibre’s Rauma new sawmill will be 250 metres per minute. The 110-metre saw-line has a capacity of over 40 logs per minute, making it three times faster than a conventional saw-line. Innovations like DX sawing, or pre-cutting, is also a first for the sawmilling industry. The mill’s running a single central control room which means that in practice, sawn timber passes through the processing line without any manual work stages. Check out more on this new mill, including videos, in the story below.
Finally, here's a good news story to finish your week. It touches on a century of vivid memories from Aline Douglas who turned 100 last month. Aline was Waipa Mill's first female worker, starting when the timber mill opened in 1939. Boarding in Rotorua during the week and with her father working in Kaingaroa, she and her sister would bike home in the weekend on the gravel roads, three hours one way and four hours the other. Think about that. An interesting read and an informative insight into how things have changed since Aline first started work.
This week we have for you:
Submissions open on NZ’s NES-PFPublic consultation has opened on how forests in New Zealand are managed through the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF), including:
- Giving local councils more control over where forests are planted
- Managing the effects of exotic carbon forestry on nature
- Improving wildfire management in all forests
- Addressing the key findings of the Year One Review of the NES-PF
- Confirmation that the permanent forest category of the ETS will open on 1 January 2023
- Māori and other technical forestry experts to help lead work to ensure the permanent forest category enables permanent native forestry, in line with the commitment in the Emissions Reduction Plan.
Feedback is invited on Government plans to improve the way New Zealand manages forestry to ensure it works for nature, the climate, local communities, and our economy.
Proposals including broadening the control by local authorities over the planting of exotic forests in their districts, including whether to widen the scope of the regulations to include permanent exotic afforestation (exotic carbon forests), with the opening of public consultation on the National Environmental Statement for Plantation Forests (NES-PF).
“This consultation supports the Government’s aim to balance the type and scale of afforestation happening across New Zealand – to get the right tree in the right place,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said. ”We are addressing concerns about the impacts to the environment and on rural communities from the potential conversion of productive farmland to exotic carbon forests”.
“We are seeing greater investment in forestry due to the significant increase in the carbon price, forestry's role in reaching our emissions reduction goals, and demand for wood products,” Minister of Forestry Stuart Nash said. “However, large-scale change in land use for exotic carbon forestry, if left unchecked and without any management oversight or requirements, has the potential for unintended impacts on the environment, rural communities, and regional economies”.
“The proposed changes include local government having more discretion to decide on the location, scale, type and management of plantation and exotic carbon forests in their districts. We’re seeking feedback on options for giving local councils more control over which land can be used for afforestation including both plantation and exotic carbon forests, through the resource consent process. Councils would be able to decide based on social and economic factors which are specific to their areas and communities,” Stuart Nash said.
Submissions close on 18 November 2022.
Find out more about the consultation and have your say by clicking here
Find out more about the next steps for the NZ ETS permanent forest category at www.mpi.govt.nz
Two in three paddocks' worth of pine neededRivers bursting their banks, flash floods and more intense cyclones – how climate change is making floods more extreme. We'll need more than a few shelter belts and riverside trees to offset farming methane. This is the conclusion of New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton.
His conclusions (and accompanying calculations) found up to 5.8 million hectares of pine would be required to achieve methane-neutrality. That’s the equivalent of two out of every three paddocks in the country covered by plantation forest – and would be in addition to the minimum 24% methane cut required by the Zero Carbon Act.
Upton said the results of his report showed New Zealand “cannot simply plant our way out of this problem, just as we can’t plant our way out of burning fossil fuels”.
The commissioner calculated how many pine trees would be required to go beyond the 2050 requirement to cut biological methane by between 24 and 47%. Introducing the report, Upton said this target was approved by a near-unanimous vote in Parliament, and he was not recommending any changes.
“This is not about planting trees instead of reducing agricultural emissions.” But Upton wondered whether new forests could help meet the methane target. Because it’s short-lived, methane has a different effect on global temperatures compared to long-lasting gases such as carbon dioxide.
Domestic livestock is producing roughly constant amounts of methane each year, the report said. (Landfills also produce methane, but this contribution isn’t covered in the report.) The warming effect of methane emissions is powerful in the beginning, but then tapers off over time – though it doesn’t flat line.
According to Upton’s report, harvested pine forests produce an almost mirror image of this pattern: they absorb a lot of carbon dioxide in their early years – and therefore quickly have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. In later years, this tapers off. The atmospheric heating caused by stable methane emissions can be offset by the impact of harvested pine forests as these absorb carbon dioxide and store it as wood, the report found.
Based on this alignment, 0.6ha of pine plantation forest would offset the emissions of each dairy cow. Each beef cattle would require 0.4ha, deer 0.2ha and sheep 0.08ha. To offset total livestock methane 10% below national target, 770,000ha of pine forest would be required by 2050.
Keith Woodford, a Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems in this article presents and discusses some of the big issues that Simon Upton raises exploring the possibilities of using carbon sequestration from forestry to offset methane emissions.
Forest360 NZ log export market updateIt would be nice to be reporting on a rebound in the export market on the basis of solid demand and improved overall global macro-economic factors, but that would be about as factual as the government’s recent announcement of lower crime statistics - during a year of repeated lockdowns. Not much has really changed in the past month in terms of demand and supply with both reasonably lackluster.
Normally, at this time of year, we are seeing strong increases in demand as the Chinese construction industry kicks into 5th gear and in-market log inventories start depleting at a reasonable rate, leading to at wharf price increases. The current inventory position in China is around the 3.7Mm3 mark which equates to around 48 days supply. This is down around 800Km3 from a month ago but still not at the level that gives buyers uneasy bowel motions.
In reality, although the October at wharf gate (AWG) prices are mostly flat across the exporters (around $133/m3 for A grade), the actual sales price in the market is down around $US20/m3 in the last month. The ability to hold the NZ AWG sales prices is primarily due the spectacular value drop of the $NZ against the $US in the wake of the US Fed Reserve hiking rates much faster than many other peer banks.
This has given most currencies a Tyson Fury sized smack on the nose which has driven many to drop to lows against the greenback not seen since the Global Financial Crisis some 14 years ago. The FOREX rate can’t do a Jacinda and steal all the limelight though, as lower global shipping rates have also played a part in keeping NZ returns flat through sales prices. Shipping rates are expected to come under continued pressure during October and November which may help offset further sales price reductions.
So, what is leading the reduction in sales prices in China? There’s a number of factors all at play here with the biggest uglies being continued lack of demand from waning confidence in the construction sector. The oversupply of built and part built residential property is yesterdays news but it’s not going to go away as easy as wrapping it around and order of fish and chips and it is likely to linger for the medium term.
The increased US interest rates are having a double whammy as, although it’s helping our exporters with lower $NZ:US rates, it is increasing the cost of finance for log buyers which is further eroding the price they are able to pay in $US terms. To put some icing on the bad news cake, the continued covid restrictions have severely dented China’s ability to produce and consume which has hit Chinese consumer confidence in general.
To read this week’s full commentary, click here.
Marcus Musson, Forest360
Apartments showcase low carbon building benefitsBuilding with renewable engineered wood rather than concrete offers a significant win for the environment and the financials, a new case study has revealed.
The study used Clearwater Quays luxury apartments in Christchurch, New Zealand as a test case. Clearwater Quays was constructed as a part of Mid-Rise Wood Construction, a public-private programme, a public-private partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Red Stag Investments. The programme objective is encouraging greater use of New Zealand-engineered timber in multi-story, prefabricated buildings.
“Calculations show that using wood in place of concrete to build this five-storey demonstration building is removing over a million kilograms of carbon dioxide from the environment,” says Barry Lynch, director of Logic Group, and Eoin McLoughlin, senior quantity surveyor for the Clearwater project.
Mr Lynch says carbon calculations for the Clearwater building show its timber construction saved 87,400kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), compared with a CO2 release of 952,600kg if it had been built of concrete, and 794,600kg if built of steel and concrete. The NZ$3.37m price to design, develop and construct the apartment block would have been NZ$3.89m for concrete construction or NZ$3.59m for steel and concrete. The calculations include financial impacts of a reduced construction time.
The Clearwater case study is now freely available for construction professionals. The project has been deliberately designed to be open source, with all project information being made available to showcase the advantages of the new building materials and methods.
The Clearwater demonstration building is funded jointly by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Red Stag Investments Ltd. Funding for the programme is part of the ‘Mid-Rise Wood Construction’ partnership between Red Stag and MPI. The programme aims to accelerate and increase the use of mass timber and prefabrication in a range of public and commercial building types.
‘Mid-Rise Wood Construction’ complements the government’s initiatives to encourage high value domestic processing and manufacturing from New Zealand’s plantation forests and deliver a zero-carbon construction sector by designing to increase low carbon materials used in construction.
Programme projections suggest if engineered timber is widely adopted, this construction method could save the country NZ$330m annually by 2036.
Full details of the case study are available here.
Note: Registrations for the region’s annual mass timber construction event, WoodWorks 2022 including conference, exhibitions and pre-conference tours through Red Stag Wood Solutions CLT Plant, Waipa continue to roll in. At this stage over 250 registered so it's going to be a full house. The annual event is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 8-9 November. Registrations to WoodWorks 2022 can still be made here.
Does the government want more trees or not?NZ foresters are saying a suggestion by Climate Change Minister James Shaw to centralise buying carbon credits in central government, and decoupling the Emissions Trading Scheme from forestry, is a message that trees are irrelevant to fighting climate change.
Forest Owners Association President Grant Dodson says he wholeheartedly agrees that forest planting should not delay any actions to reduce the overall output of greenhouse gas emissions.
“However, there is a limit to how much gross emissions can be reduced, either by 2035 or by 2050, without knee-capping the New Zealand economy. If we had started earlier, with greater commitment by successive governments, we might not be in this position, but we are.”
“Forestry can buy us time to meet those targets. Countless independent studies have all concluded – we must plant fast-growing trees because the need to soak up carbon is now very urgent. Or we don’t meet our targets.”
The Climate Change Commission has stated forests are the only option available now for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at scale. It has assessed an additional 380,000 hectares of exotics must be planted by 2035 to meet 5-year carbon budgets. Grant Dodson says planting is at about that level.
“But now the government is floating ideas to drive the planting rate down again. This will happen if the government decides it will be the sole purchaser of forestry units and thus control price. It’ll be as successful as when the government took over meat exports through the Meat Board in the mid-1980s.”
The President of the Farm Forestry Association Graham West adds that integrating farming and forestry on the same property can make for a more profitable farm operation. “Many members of the Farm Forestry Association have been planting trees on 10 – 20 percent of their farm. With the right policies and encouragement, farmers will make a major contribution to meet our carbon targets and earn timber income as well.”
Grant Dodson points to the report just issued by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, which raises concerns about the volume of agricultural methane, which will remain in the environment after 2050, even if methane reduction goals are met.
“Upton directly says huge areas of exotic forestry need to be planted just to offset this methane. Other than de-stocking, he doesn’t see alternatives to using trees to offset.” Both forestry leaders emphasise that it will be hard for New Zealand to meet its international targets.
Grant Dodson says “Changes in technology, business practice, and land-use are all vital and all way beyond tinkering at the margin. But what we have right now is yet another signal to would-be forest investors that the government is weak on the real means to fight climate change.”
Source: Forest Owners Association
State-of-the-art sawmill starts in FinlandThe new state-of-the-art pine sawmill in Rauma in Finland, owned by Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group, has moved from production test run to continuous sawn timber production. The sawmill is operating continuously in three shifts. Construction of the Rauma sawmill started in the spring of 2020, and the value of the investment is approximately EUR 260 million. This is the largest sawmill investment ever in Finland.
The Rauma sawmill is a worldwide forerunner in technology, efficiency and operating models. Technological innovations such as machine vision, self- learning artificial intelligence and integrated information systems that control the sawline’s various functions provide improved conditions for the production of sawn timber of consistent quality and the sawmill’s industrial efficiency.
With the aid of new technology, the Rauma sawmill’s operation is controlled from a single central control room, and sawn timber moves along the converting line without any manual work stages.
The new sawmill has directly created 100 new jobs in Rauma. The sawmill also provides work to approximately 500 people across its direct value chain. The sawmill’s employment impact during the construction phase was roughly 1,500 person-years.
The annual capacity of the Rauma sawmill is 750,000 cubic metres of pine sawn timber, and the annual use of pine logs sourced in Finland is around 1.5 million cubic metres. The sawn timber produced in Rauma is sold mainly to Europe and Asia. The sawmill’s location enables smooth logistics to transport the sawn timber to customers through the Port of Rauma.
The new sawmill has been built next to Metsä Fibre’s Rauma pulp mill. “The full utilisation of the wood raw material is central to our unique bioproduct concept. Log wood is used as raw material for the sawmill. The bark and sawdust generated during the production of sawn timber are used for bioenergy and the chips are used as raw material for pulp. Pulp production generates bioenergy for the sawmill, and the surplus energy is sold outside the integrated mill.
In the future, this investment will enable both the Rauma sawmill and pulp mill to operate without using any fossil fuels,” says Nousiainen.
To check out a video showing the mills construction click here. For further information on the new mill and equipment being used, click here or here.
Source: Metsä Fibre
AFPA committee drives transport safety initiativesThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Growers Chamber’s Work, Health and Safety Subcommittee (WHSS) has helped drive two new initiatives to improve safety across forest industries transport.
The initiatives, funded under Round 7 of the Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), managed under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR), include:
• A ForestWorks project to develop two new projects to support adoption, implementation and compliance with the Log Haulage Code of Practice, including, a set of education videos and an updated Log Haulage Manual.
• A Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) project to develop new cases studies and modules for the Heavy Vehicle Rollover Awareness Program (HVRAP) as well as updating existing modules, including one forestry specific, log, chip and wood products module and around specific rollover awareness.
AFPA’s Forest Industry Safety Manager Amanda Bell said the WHSS had a key role in each successful proposal. “The WHSS helped develop each of the two successful HVSI proposals and forest industries will certainly benefit from them,” Amanda Bell said. AFPA’s Acting CEO Victor Violante welcomed the newly funded initiatives, which are expected to be completed in 2023.
General Manager Jubilee Sawmill announcedOneFortyOne is pleased to announce Nigel Boyd in the role of General Manager of Jubilee Sawmill. Nigel started his career in the timber industry in 1992 as an apprentice Saw Doctor. He has worked across optimisation and leadership functions in progressively more senior roles. He has been Jubilee’s Production Manager since 2018. Acting CEO Peter Brydon said “Nigel brings a strong combination of operational expertise and outstanding leadership culture. We welcome Nigel to the role.”
OneFortyOne is a trans-Tasman business that owns and manages softwood plantation forests and operates sawmills in Australia and New Zealand.
About OneFortyOne Wood Products
Jubilee Sawmill in Mount Gambier, South Australia is a historic fixture of the community and is one of Australia’s most progressive, productive, and efficient mills. Employing over 300 people from the local area, we produce structural framing, framing, outdoor treated timber, and roundwood posts.
The Marketing and Sales team is located in Box Hill, Melbourne and in Adelaide South Australia. The team supports a range of customers including major hardware retailers and international markets.
Napier Port successfully trials prototype log grabsOn Friday 2 September, Napier Port’s senior crane operators safely and successfully loaded logs onto the Norse Mobile bulk cargo vessel using log grabs custom-designed and built for use on the port’s existing mobile harbour cranes. Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson was on board the Norse Mobile to observe the initial operational trial and was very pleased to watch this new infrastructure in action.
Dawson said, “Our new log grabs are a significant safety improvement for log loading operations on port and are set to enable operational efficiencies with an increased throughput of logs. Not only is it a boost in productivity for vessels calling to Napier, loading logs onto charter vessels also represents a new service offering and revenue stream to Napier Port.”
“Alongside our new log-debarking facility, and other infrastructure projects in the pipeline, we are continuing to develop and invest in efficient cargo solutions for our customers and create greater value right across our operations.”
The port’s bulk cargo and crane teams have worked closely with Page Macrae Engineering over the last 18 months to develop the prototype log grabs to suit the specific operational requirements at Napier Port. Introducing log grab infrastructure to port operations reduces the need to rely on a ship’s own smaller cranes to load logs and will also allow Napier to welcome log vessels that don’t have cranes at all.
“Over the last few months, we’ve also worked collaboratively with our stevedoring tenant C3 to develop, plan and carry out this trial. A big thank you to their local operations team who have been genuine partners throughout this project. From an operational stand-point the feedback on the ground has been fantastic and we’re excited to fine-tune this new operation going forward,” added Dawson.
For more, including the video of the log grabs in action click here
SnapSTAT - NZ top export destinations
Waipa Mill's first female worker turns 100Aline Douglas was Waipa Mill's first female worker, in 1939. On 23 September, she turns 100, and sat down in her Rotorua home with journalist Zizi Sparks to share a century of vivid memories from her great loves and favourite inventions, to the times that changed the world.
When Aline Douglas was 17 years old, she had to bike a mile home from work in her dress and high heels just to use the toilet. Then Aline Bailey, she was the first female employee at Waipa Mill when it opened in 1939. She worked as the mill's typist–telephonist working nine-hour days for the equivalent of $4.17 per month.
But the mill did not have a toilet the first year so she would wait until lunchtime to bike about a mile home to use the toilet. The men would go among the trees. Douglas was born in Palmerston North on September 23, 1922, and has celebrated her 100th birthday.
She spent her first 15 years in Karioi near Waiouru, at boarding school in Palmerston North and at Whanganui Girls' College. The family of six moved to Rotorua in 1937 as her father, a forest ranger, had been transferred. In Karioi, the family used candles for light so it was a treat to be able to turn the lights on at the wall.
Douglas went to the city's only high school at the time which is now Raukura, Rotorua Boys' High School. "Then I wanted to be a nurse and of course, the war was coming and dad said 'no, you're not becoming a nurse, they climb out of windows and go off with boys'.
"He knew of a job coming up at Waipa Mill. I got the job in 1939 on August 14." While Douglas worked at the mill, her father got work in Kaingaroa. She would board during the week and, with no car, bike with her sister from the mill to Kaingaroa on a Friday afternoon and return on Sunday. "It would take us three hours one way and four hours the other. It was all gravel roads." They never punctured a tyre.
Source & Photo: nzherald
World's first commercially viable pseudo satelliteIn 2016, a bizarre-looking plane, covered with more than 17,000 solar panels, showed the world a glimpse of the future of flight. With the wingspan of a Boeing 747, but weighing only as much as an SUV, it circumnavigated the Earth without using a drop of fuel.
Called Solar Impulse 2, it was the brainchild of Swiss explorer Bertrand Piccard and Swiss engineer Bertrand Borschberg, built to showcase the potential of renewable energy. After its record-breaking flight, it had accomplished its goal -- but now it's getting a new lease of life.
In 2019 it was bought by Skydweller Aero, a US-Spanish start-up which aims to turn the plane into the world's first commercially viable "pseudo-satellite," capable of doing the work of an orbiting satellite, but with more flexibility and less environmental impact.
"A pseudo-satellite is an aircraft that stays aloft, let's say, indefinitely," says Skydweller's CEO, Robert Miller. "That means 30, 60, 90 days -- maybe a year. And as such, it can do basically anything you would imagine a satellite can do." That includes providing telecommunications and Earth imaging, as well as disaster response and monitoring natural resources.
After buying Solar Impulse 2, Skydweller spent months modifying it and flew it again for the first time in November 2020. Since then, it has completed 12 test flights, in the sunny weather of southeastern Spain. "We're in the process of turning it into a drone," says Miller. "The pilot is still there for safety, but we now have the ability to fly the aircraft totally autonomously."
Take-offs and landings are still handled by the pilot, but Miller says the next step is adding systems that will make them automatic. "After that, we can remove the pilot from the aircraft. We're in the process of beginning construction of a second aircraft that has no cockpit at all," he adds. Removing pilot and cockpit makes room for larger payloads, and is a necessary step to allow the plane to fly for weeks or months (Solar Impulse 2's longest flight was just under five days).
Miller says that the aircraft could be deployed as early as 2023, and that he believes there will be a market for a fleet of thousands. Companies like Facebook and Google have tested pseudo-satellites in the past, but without ever developing a commercial product.
"There will certainly be increasing demand for the type of services Skydweller provides," says Jeremiah Gertler, an aviation analyst at aerospace and defence market analysis company Teal Group. "While others are offering similar and different solutions to high altitude and long endurance missions, there is a clear advantage to being the first ant at the picnic."
Telecommunications are likely to be a key use for Skydweller, because using the aircraft to provide internet or cellular access could be economically viable where satellite or traditional infrastructure would not be.
Last November, the company announced a partnership with Telefonica, one of the world's largest mobile network providers, to develop connectivity solutions that can offer cellular coverage in unserved or underserved regions around the world. Skydweller would operate as a "cell tower in the sky," with no physical or carbon footprint. It could also provide temporary communications infrastructure in disaster areas.
Skydweller could also offer aerial support during search and rescue operations, for example during forest fires, with the flexibility of being able to take off from existing airports, be deployed thousands of miles away and remain in the air for months -- without carbon emissions. It is able to fly at night on battery power, using energy stored during the day.
Among the challenges that Skydweller will face is the fact that the plane will need sunshine to fly -- which will limit its use at certain latitudes -- and the regulations regarding unmanned aircraft. "Governments haven't gotten their minds around uncrewed vehicles yet, and carving out airspace for a long endurance mission would be a new challenge," says aviation analyst Gertler.
"It's a real race to see whether technology or regulation solves its issues first, but there's every reason to bet on technology," he adds. "It seems likely that they will arrive at the finish line before government has even begun to find the checkered flag."
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... bringing back memories
Someone asked the other day, 'What was your favourite 'fast food' when you were growing up?'
On that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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