WoodWeek – 24 August 2016

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Please stop for a minute and think about your safety and that of your workmates today. Nothing else could be more important at a time like this, when someone dies in our workplace, or for that matter, at any time. Stand in the gap.

On behalf of everyone on the forest floor and in management and the boardrooms of our forest industry, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and work colleagues of Niko Brooking who died at work earlier this week. Despite the efforts being made by some many people across our industry to make positive changes in safety, this week a family has paid a terrible price in his accidental death. We owe it to him and them to continue to strive for change.

Nelson secures its place as the engineered wood products (EWP) capital of New Zealand with the new timber terminal at the cutting edge of airport design. As public feedback for Nelson airport's $32 million terminal redevelopment builds momentum, its use of wood as a primary building material has been praised for being a tribute and a showpiece for the region.

New Zealand First is warning again that the forestry industry is 'heading for disaster'. Their leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters, has waded into the regional wood supply issues discussion with some superlatives that won’t be helping anyone looking for logic in the debate. There are different regional issues – as we report today from two particular regions – but the reality is our forests are owned by a diverse group of investors both locally and overseas. Forest assets left public ownership years ago. Of all of our nationally significant export earning industries, forestry has been sailing in the winds of the free market for decades now.

Indeed, it was a bunch of politicians back in the day who decided selling forest assets was the only choice. At the time they ignored the collective voice of the sawmillers who pointed out that forest assets are the key to the whole future value chain for NZ Inc. As an industry, forestry and wood products people have been living in the proverbial ‘interesting’ times ever since. More constructive debate might be around the potential changes in ownership coming as forest rights expire and come up for re-sale.

Remote sensing, forest inventory and data management is again the focus for ForestTECH 2016 which will run in Rotorua on 16-17 November and again in Melbourne on 22-23 November. Programmes are now out for both venues. Registrations are already coming in. Further details on the November technology series can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events.

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Log export prices down slightly

NZ export log prices fall to 8-month low on stronger kiwi dollar, higher shipping rates - New Zealand export log prices slid to an eight-month low in August as a stronger local currency and higher shipping rates dented returns.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs dropped to $110 a tonne in August, from $114 a tonne in July, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. That's the lowest level since December's $104 a tonne.

Shipping rates to both China and South Korea have advanced about 8 percent this month, rebounding from their lows, as fewer ships visit New Zealand due to greater northern hemisphere demand and a drop in local appetite for cargo such as palm kernel. A lift in the New Zealand dollar has also made the country's exports less competitive after the Reserve Bank cut the benchmark rate this month but was less definitive than expected about the need for further easing.

"Nearly all changes in export log markets were negative for New Zealand log traders over the past month," AgriHQ analysts Reece Brick and Shaye Lee said in their report. "Higher shipping rates, the appreciation of the New Zealand dollar, and steady-to-softer in-market pricing have all worked against returns at the wharf gate."

Still, inventory levels at Chinese ports were lower than the same time last year, pointing to stability in prices and the potential for a marginal increase next month, they said.

Meanwhile, returns in the New Zealand domestic market were in line with last month, AgriHQ said.

In the structural market, S1 logs slipped to $114 a tonne from $115 a tonne last month, which was the highest level since June 2014, AgriHQ said.

"Demand for structural logs has been impressive throughout all major regions, primarily a product of strong housing construction through key centres," the analysts said. "Many mills would be more than willing to take more logs than they currently are, but the relative tightness of supply is meaning this is not possible."

In the pruned market, P1 logs declined to $184 a tonne from $187 a tonne last month, which was the highest price since June 1995, AgriHQ said.

There has been an increase in the supply of lower quality pruned logs from owners of smaller woodlots who have been felling trees at a younger age than usual, although there is limited demand for these logs which tend to have issues with sapstaining, which affects the appearance of the wood, the analysts said.

"Mills will be seeking further price reductions in the short-term," they said in their report. "However there is a distinct lack of interest from domestic mills for any poorer quality logs" and Chinese buyers were also eschewing these logs.

Through July and early August, export pruned logs were trading for US$165/JAS (Japanese Agriculture and Forestry Standards), down from US$175/JAS at the same point last month, AgriHQ said.

"A period of increasing processing capacity within China appeared to mean these issues were overlooked, however now the demand situation has stabilised, the effects of trading these poorer quality logs is being felt," the analysts said. "The furniture industry within China is also in a weak state, which has also cut back interest in pruned logs."

Pulp prices were unchanged at $49 a tonne and have held within a range of $49 a tonne and $51 a tonne since September 2014, AgriHQ said.

Source: BusinessDesk via Scoop

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Nelson secures its place as EWP capital of NZ

Nelson's timber terminal at the cutting edge of airport design. As public feedback for Nelson airport's $32 million terminal redevelopment builds momentum, its use of wood as a primary building material has been praised for being a tribute and a showpiece for the region.

Breaking from the traditional use of concrete and steel, the use of laminated veneer lumber - or LVL - from Nelson Pine Industries will be integral to the structure. Around 440m3of locally-resourced timber has gone into the project. The LVL portal legs are cantilevered to provide a lateral bracing system that allows for unobstructed clear open spaces internally.

Twenty-four columns also incorporate a dampening system that can absorb large seismic loads while the roof is a lightweight stress skin panel that acts as the ceiling diaphragm.

Nelson Airport chief executive Rob Evans was excited to have such innovative design used in the ambitious project but admitted there were some initial reservations about the concept.

"It seems like that now but it probably wasn't back at the start and it took a bit of vision and courage from the architects and the airport to think about that first," he said.

"Building in timber is still not that prevalent in New Zealand so I think the fact we were able to get a functional building working and do it structurally with the timber is pretty neat."

While he was aware of its use in several European and American terminals, Evans said in his experience the use of timber in airport terminals was rare in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.

He said the design was appropriate given the value of the forestry and wood processing industry in the Nelson region.

Project manager for Nelson Pine Industries Andy Van Houtte said the company was proud to be a part of "a once in a life time opportunity" which would become the envy of other timber-producing regions like the Bay of Plenty.

"It's the best showcase you could possibly have and when the opportunity came up we jumped at it," he said.

"We've been calling ourselves the engineered wood capital of New Zealand for some time now."

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Regional wood supply issues differ

Canterbury's timber trade is in dire straights due to a serious shortage of logs. - The problem is two-fold. Not only are most of the province's logs going directly to export but the Big Wind of September 2013 knocked over hundreds of thousands that would otherwise be maturing this year.

Site manager for McVicars Timber Group of Christchurch, Ian Anderson, said the problem was price- related. Chinese buyers were paying higher prices for timber than local processors could afford, he said.

"Small forest owners who grow trees on a 20 or 30-year rotation have one chance for a dividend on their investment. Dairy and sheep farmers are struggling, and a good price for their forestry from a foreign investor can balance this out. And who can blame them."

Regional sawmills must pay export parity to attract forest owners, Anderson said.

New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) chairman Brian Stanley said timber processors were being hindered by a lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

Small-scale woodlot owners were being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers were not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to buy these logs.

"In many areas, small-scale owners would do well to get expert advice on terms and conditions for their sale and who to sell to, and not rush into contracts just because their logs are nearly mature. A slightly longer-term view might provide a better return."

"The problem is not so much with the large-scale dedicated forest operators who depend on being able to supply a constant volume into both the local and export markets and are managed and equipped for this."

Anderson said the storm of September 2013 dropped between 1.2 million and 1.6 million tonnes of logs, many of which were within two or three years of maturing.

"That's enough timber to keep McVicars going for 20 years, gone in one night."

Source: Stuff News

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Forestry worker killed was a talented rugby player

A forestry worker killed in an accident in rural Hawke's Bay on Monday was a talented rugby play who is being remembered for his strong commitment to the game.

Niko Brooking, 24, is the second worker to die in northern Hawke's Bay's Pohakura Forest within the past five months.

WorkSafe is investigating the death, which happened when Brooking was struck by a steel cable.

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Source: Stuff News

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Immature log sales another issue

Forest industry fearful as farmers sell immature logs - There are concerns that Jobs and environmental sustainability are under threat from foreign log buyers who are flying over New Zealand forests and offering struggling landowners cash to buy immature trees.

That's the claim of saw millers and wood industry organisations, who say they now have grave concerns about the country's long-term log supplies.

Brian Stanley of The Wood Council said he was getting reports from Northland of sales of logs as young as 18-years-old, when the trees should ideally be left to grow for another ten years.

"You've got overseas buyers from India, China and I think the Middle East as well flying into New Zealand, grabbing a chartered flight from Ardmore, and flying over all the forests.

"It's all the farmers' woodlots. They'll GPS those and then land at Whangarei, pick up a rental car with a wad of cash, and just go around buying them up."

The practice seems to be worst in Northland, but there are reports of the same thing happening in Southland and Canterbury.

And Northland sawmillers in particular fear logging could drop off massively in five years' time, if immature log exports continue.

Stanley added: "There's no law against it. The farmer or whoever owns the trees can do what he likes with them.

"What we're saying is they should probably get some professional advice on the basis that if they took them out to age 28, they would probably get a better value proposition."

n Otago, Roger Stuart of Stuart Timber said he was also hearing reports of exporters encouraging people to cut the trees at 22 to 24 years of age.

And it was hard for people who had perhaps put in a forest for their retirement to turn it down, he said.

Industry players said it was unlikely the young logs are being used for construction, although they say there are no controls once they leave New Zealand shores.

Neil Geerkens, general manager of Northland Forest Managers, said the concerns were real.

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Source: Stuff News

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Port of Tauranga reports operating results and plans

Port of Tauranga Completes Major Five Year Expansion Programme Highlights: Strong container volumes offset a fall in log exports
  • Net Profit After Tax down 2.4% to $77.3 million following increase in depreciation charges and downturn in log volumes

  • Parent EBITDA rises 2.2% to $125.7 million as strong growth in container traffic offsets a decline in log exports

  • Container volumes increase 12.1% to just over 950,000 TEUs1

  • First 9,500 TEU ships to start calling at Port of Tauranga in October after channel dredging completed and landside facilities upgraded

  • Final dividend of 30 cents per share lifts total dividends to 53 cents per share - up 1.9% on the prior year

  • Special dividend of $34 million, or 25 cents per share, announced as part of a capital restructure targeting to return $140 million to shareholders over the next four years

  • Improved health and safety performance – Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) down 62% to 5.6 (per million hours exposure)

Parent EBITDA for the year to 30 June 2016 rose 2.2% to $125.7 million from $123 million in the prior year as container traffic rose 12.1% to a record of more than 954,000 TEUs - up from 851,000 TEUs in the prior year.

These gains were offset by a decline in bulk cargoes reflecting continuing challenges in New Zealand’s forestry and agricultural sectors. Notably, log exports fell more than one million tonnes with declines also in imported stock feed and fertiliser.

The company is also targeting a $140 Million capital return to shareholders.

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Which tablet is right for your forestry business?

A Canadian company has recently provided an excellent review of tablet selection for use in the field. The question of which tablet to use out in a rugged environment is a very challenging one to answer. You will likely know the answer after you have used a tablet computer for several months. And just to make things really challenging whatever you choose will not be the best option in a year because of advances in technology!

You can make a good case for the adoption of Android, Apple and Windows tablets. None of them will be a perfect fit and of course the best fit will vary with job function and individual. To help you make an informed choice Brian Saunders has considered the following four “classes” of tablet computers.

1. Class 1 – Apple Tablets
2. Class 2 – The Android “Consumer” grade tablet
3. Class 3 – Ruggedized Android tablets
4. Class 4 – Ruggedized Windows PC

When he has conducted workshops on the field use of tablet computers one of the things that has surprised him is the high proportion of users that have chosen Apple tablets over Android devices. From the functionality perspective there is little reason to choose one over the other – both can perform the majority of functions required by field users. However, it is the lack of good harsh environmental cases available for Android consumer devices that tip the scales in favour of Apple’s tablets.

With a Griffin Survivor- or LifeProof-equipped iPad, you have a highly water resistant (or waterproof) tablet computer at a much lower cost than a purpose built ruggedized Android tablet. And these devices hold up remarkably well on Canada’s West (Wet) coast. He knows of one coastal consulting company that has about 5000 man-days of iPad field use without the loss of a single device due to moisture ingress.

If you require a device that will work in more extreme environments your only option is a purpose- built ruggedized tablet such as the Panasonic Android Toughtab or Motion Computers F5. These tablets are significantly more expensive than an Apple iPad equipped with a ruggedized case but you get what you pay for. The full article can be found by clicking here.

Remote sensing, forest inventory and data management is again the focus for this regions independent technology update, ForestTECH 2016 which will run in Rotorua on 16-17 November and again in Melbourne on 22-23 November. Programmes are now out for both venues. Registrations are already coming in. Further details on the November technology series can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events.

Source: tablet-ex-gear.com

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The Morgan Foundations “dirty dozen”

The Morgan Foundations first report “Climate Cheats” showed that New Zealand was the biggest user of fraudulent carbon credits from Ukraine and Russia. The Government responded saying that they didn’t purchase the credits, companies did. This is despite NZ being the only Emissions Trading Scheme in the world that allowed the use of these units from 2013-2015.

So the Foundation decided to look at which companies bought the most of these credits. The data isn’t perfect, but it gives some interesting results:

1. NZ Steel made big profits from buying fraudulent foreign units and selling or banking the (more valuable) free units they got from Government; essentially profiting from polluting.

2. The power and petrol companies, led by BP but including Z, Caltex and Genesis, were the biggest users of fraudulent units. They claim they did this to provide the best deal for their customers, but interestingly Mobil didn’t purchase any of these units and somehow remained competitive.

3. Some forestry companies also bought the units. Some of these may have been engaging in a rort similar to NZ Steel, but it is hard to tell which companies did this.

The Foundation wants these businesses to join our call for the Government to ‘dump the junk’. At the very least Government should not carry forward any surplus units past 2020; the only reason we have these surplus units is because we traded in fraudulent foreign units in the past. Without the Government stepping in to right the wrong, any company wishing to clear themselves of being implicit in greenwashing faces a potentially large liability.

Download the report. For further coverage of this story, click here.

Source: Scoop
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Firefighting technology boost

Innovative radio technology keeps New Zealand’s firefighters safe

• New solution embeds radio microphone within firefighters’ breathing apparatus

• Communication across multiple New Zealand public safety agencies made easier

• Built for the harshest environments with improved noise cancellation and battery life

Wellington, New Zealand – 16 August 2016 – Firefighters serving with New Zealand Fire Service will benefit from improved safety and communication while working in fire grounds through an innovative two-way radio solution.

The new solution from Motorola Solutions and Spark will enable the service’s 10,000 career and volunteer firefighters to stay connected to their colleagues in the field via reliable and robust voice communication.

Having attended around 73,000 incidents in the past year alone, New Zealand Fire Service needs the best tools for the job. The organisation will receive more than 4,500 new radios designed for use in the most severe fire ground environments.

A major feature of the solution is a cornerstone Motorola Solutions innovation, a remote speaker microphone that will be fully integrated within firefighters’ breathing apparatus. This will be combined with the radio’s convenient push-to-talk button, which enables firefighters to communicate easily and safely in the harshest conditions.

Paul Baxter, Chief Executive & National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service, said, “Communication is critical to safety on the incident ground, and much of that communication comes from the use of incident ground control (IGC) radio. That’s why we were so exacting in our requirements for these new radios.”

“The radios will help us to resolve radio interface issues with firefighters’ breathing apparatus while also delivering improved noise cancellation and battery life.”

By using a combination of single and multiband radios operating across both VHF and UHF bands, the solution aligns with the fire service’s vision of leading integrated fire and emergency services for a safer New Zealand.

“This radio solution enables us to move away from using a mix of models and frequencies and toward a nationally consistent standard that will make it easier to work with our emergency service partners,” Baxter said.

Murray Mitchell, Director ICT for the New Zealand Fire Service, said, “We wanted a solution that is safe, easy to use and doesn’t distract firefighters from their work during critical incidents.The design features incorporated in these new radios will help our firefighters work more safely and efficiently.”

Spark will provide in-country support including service management and a customer support desk.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles said: “Radios are life-saving tools for our emergency services, and great team communication can be the difference between a managed incident and a disaster. We are very proud to play a part in improving the on-ground experience for our Kiwi Fire Service heroes.”

Motorola Solutions Managing Director for New Zealand and Australia Steve Crutchfield said the solution drew on his company’s experience in providing tailored, mission-critical communications for public safety agencies all over the world.

“Firefighters depend on reliable and robust voice communications in emergency situations so they can concentrate on the job of protecting our communities and potentially saving lives,” Crutchfield said.

The radios are part of a five-year contract, giving New Zealand Fire Service operational and cost certainty throughout the life of the contract.

The contract also provides access provisions for related government agencies wanting to take advantage of the new radio technology.

Source: Scoop News

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Building future skills through Got a Trade Week

Got a Trade? Got it Made! Week is back for 2016. The national campaign in New Zealand to raise awareness of on-the-job training and careers in New Zealand’s trades and services is returning 22-26 August. The week also celebrates the talents and achievements of Kiwis making headway in their vocation.

The multi-channel campaign has been co-organised by Competenz and seven of the country’s industry training organisations representing more than 140 trades and services, including the forestry industry. Got a Trade will be promoted on TV, radio and via digital channels throughout August and into the beginning of September.

Competenz’ CEO Fiona Kingsford says that there are misconceptions on what a trade can represent. And that on-the-job training encompasses industries as diverse as forestry, to manufacturing, to refrigeration and air conditioning.

“There is a real and genuine demand from all trades for skilled people – we need 2,300 new people in the forestry industry by 2020 in order to meet employment growth and replacement demand. Genuine career opportunities currently exist within the forestry industry, yet the current housing crisis has led the public to mostly focus on the opportunities in the building and construction sectors,” said Kingsford.

In an increasingly technical world, the practical skills that can be gained in workplace training teach apprentices to help turn ideas, innovation and great thinking into reality. “In today’s job market practical intelligence and technical trades are in very high demand, and this translates in to excellent earning potential,” said Kingsford.

For forestry worker and Eastland Wood Council Apprentice of the Year 2016 Jasmine Kuru, leaving school at 16-years-old she was unsure of what she wanted to do, until she decided to join the family business. “I received a pair of orange spiked forestry gumboots for my sixteenth birthday, and decided to try working for the family business. I was so nervous and excited I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little bit apprehensive at first, but after a couple of weeks in the bush, I realised that my heart was set for the forestry industry,” said Kuru.

“Completing my apprenticeship has inspired me to share my knowledge with my fellow workers in the industry. I am now encouraging other young people in the hope of attracting them into the forestry industry.”

Kingsford says young people like Jasmine will ultimately reap the rewards of a country demanding a skilled workforce. “Trades and workplace training offers a genuine career pathway and there are rich opportunities for the trades in New Zealand now, with the well-documented skills shortage and the demand for skilled labour into the future.”

Employers benefit from training their people to nationally recognised qualifications. “Businesses who employ apprentices are building the skills that help their operations run productively and safely, while lifting quality and reducing downtime and waste – as well as boosting employee confidence, job satisfaction and loyalty. All this means a more competitive business. It also means the industry as a whole benefits from a more skilled pool of talent,” says Kingsford.

“With only 28 percent of school leavers going to university, Got a Trade Week is about showcasing the opportunities that exist out there for the other 72 percent.” Got a Trade Week will be launched at Parliament on Monday 22 August. The week also features the Future Business Leader’s Forum on Thursday 25 August where New Zealand’s ‘bright young things’ in trades and services will gather to learn about furthering their careers. Following the leader’s forum, there’s The Edge Got a Trade Future Business Leader’s Awards where Jasmine is a nominee.

For more information visit www.competenz.org.nz/got-a-trade-week
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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... a funny fishing story or two ...


"Two friends fished the Awahou - a cold water stream running into Lake Rotorua," writes regular Rotorua fishing enthusiast Alf Hoyle. "They called it quits at 11pm with two fish each. As they headed back to the car park - a lovely moonlit night - one had a problem with a bit of pumice in his waders.

Placing his fish on the ground he sat down and removed his waders just as a large ginger cat emerged from the hedge and proceeded to gnaw the head of one of his fish.

Most anglers, when leaving the water, reel the fly into the tip of the rod until back at the car.

Without much thought my friend slapped the moggie with his rod. Most fishing sorts have read Zane Grey's book, The Scream of the Reel - well that had nothing on a ginger tom cat, just before midnight streaking up the road with a Red Setter no 6 fly stuck in its arse."

That's all for our mid-week wood news roundup.

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John Stulen
PO Box 1230
Building X91, Scion Campus, 99 Sala Street
Rotorua, New Zealand
Tel: +64 27 275 8011
Web: www.woodweek.com

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