WoodWeek – 21 February 2018

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. Brendan Slui has been appointed Managing Director of Rayonier Matariki Forests following the resignation of Paul Nicholls who is stepping aside after 25 years.

Between 2012 and 2017, it’s estimated that Chinese imports of softwood and hardwood logs have increased by 42 percent, hardwood chip imports have jumped 59 percent and lumber imports (again both hardwood and softwood) have soared 81 percent. How sustainable is this growth? Will it continue? While the Chinese enjoy their annual Lunar holiday break we have one analyst’s view in today’s issue.

Next month, the Southern Wood Council will host a meeting on robotics in our industry. In August the FIEA Forest Industry Safety and Technology Conference (see www.forestsafety.events) will also expand on the robotics theme, with a particular focus on how robotics can enhance safety in our operations.

“Advancements in robotics and automation for forestry companies, everything from planting, silviculture, wood harvesting, extracting the wood from the forest site and transporting logs to the port or processing plant are moving at a fast pace” says Grant Dodson, chairperson of the Southern Wood Council (SWC).

Safety workshops for log transport operators are running in Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia in coming months as part of a campaign hosted by the Australian Forestry Contractors Association (AFCA). General manager Stacey Gardiner says the 3-hour workshops provide training on truck rollover, load restraint risks and Chain of Responsibility. The training modules have been developed in consultation with engineering firm Engistics.

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New leadership for Rayonier Matariki Forests

Brendan Slui has been appointed Managing Director of Rayonier Matariki Forests following the resignation of Paul Nicholls who is stepping aside after 25 years service.

Brendan has held a series of roles during his 18-year tenure with Rayonier Matariki Forests, joining as a Senior Forester and progressing to Resources Manager, Regional Manager and most recently, Director of Operations. Brendan also spent six months in the USA working with Rayonier's operations there.

“I’m thrilled to be taking over the reins. It is an exciting time be leading Rayonier Matariki Forests and working towards the continuing success of the New Zealand operation." "However, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that Paul has made to both the company and the industry. His ongoing commitment to improve our industry has been tireless and we wish him well for his future.” said Brendan.

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Regional Development Fund launched

Cabinet has given the final sign-off for the billion-dollar a year Regional Development Fund, and the checks and balances to be put in place for any money allocated.

The contestable fund was part of the coalition deal between Labour and New Zealand First and will be overseen by the minister Shane Jones.

Proposals from around the country have been coming in thick and fast, and they will start to be considered once the system is in place.

The details of how that will look will be announced by Mr Jones and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Gisborne on Friday.

The coalition agreement detailed a number of initiatives including "significant investment" in regional rail, planting 100 million trees as part of the "Billion Trees Planting Programme", and giving Winston Peter's Northport proposal "serious consideration".

It's understood there will be a three-tiered system.

At the bottom will be regional initiatives costing less than $1 million, likely to be administered under the same system as under National - by senior regional officers and senior public servants across several key agencies.

Next would be larger projects in sectors like tourism, aquaculture and forestry, including the billion tree planting programme.

At the top level would be major infrastructure projects like broadband, road and rail, that would all need Cabinet sign-off, as would any projects costing more than $20 million.

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Photo: Shane Jones, New Zealand First

Source: RadioNZ

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Analysts on China’s imported wood future

Imports of logs, lumber and woodchips have been growing at such a rapid rate, and to such lofty heights, that it’s been close to unbelievable at times.

Between 2012 and 2017 (estimated), Chinese imports of logs (softwood and hardwood) have increased by 42 percent, hardwood chip imports have jumped 59 percent and lumber imports (again both hardwood and softwood) have soared 81 percent.

Over the past 15-20 years, the excessive and often very wasteful surge in construction activity in China was made possible by lax lending standards, including the rise of the “shadow banking” sector, corruption between banks and local authorities, a lack of concern for environmental impacts or maintaining land for agricultural production, and a rapidly growing mountain of debt. President Xi has been promoting policies to address these issues for several years, but RISI believes that the 19th National Congress sets the stage for him to make major reforms in the years ahead. This means that the out-of-control construction binge seen in China for the last decade is going to quickly come to an end.

RISI’s new forecast of Chinese timber demand projects a decline of about 18 percent in softwood log imports and 10 percent in hardwood log imports over the next decade, relative to estimated 2017 levels. Of course, it isn’t just changes in Chinese demand that will drive this decline, but also RISI’s expectations on what is happening in the supplying countries and competition from other markets, such as the decline in availability of tropical hardwood logs and an increase in demand for softwood log imports in India.

And demand in China is not driven only by construction activity. A signi cant share of logs and lumber are imported to make value-added products for export. And it has seemed like China’s exports of furniture, plywood, flooring, etc. have been doing nothing but increasing for more than a decade. But recently this picture has also changed. And the trend in exports hasn’t just slowed, it’s actually gone negative in a number of cases. Export values of plywood and flooring began shrinking in 2015, continued on their downward trend last year, when they were joined in retreat by wooden furniture and door and window exports.

Even China’s exports of paper and paperboard, which had been growing at a 19 percent CAGR from 2000-2015, have had zero growth over the past two years. Increasing labor rates in China, as well as various trade restrictions by importing countries, have largely been to blame, but the point is that the period of never-ending growth in forest products exports looks to be over.

Source: RISI.com

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China's top 10 wood import ports

Top 10 ports ranked - At the recent China Wood Supply Chain Conference and Wood Industry Zone Development Forum, the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA) announced the top 10 ports handling wood products. These were in order of rank:

Zhangjiagang, Taicang, Jinjiang, Dafeng, Xinminzhou and Changshu Ports in Jiangsu Province, Penglai and Rizhao Ports in Shandong Province, Zhanghzou Port in Fujian Province and Qinzhou Port of Guangxi Province.

Local experts think that about 40% of China’s log are imported through Jiangsu provincial ports, including Zhangjiagang, Taicang, Jinjiang, Dafeng, Xinminzhou, Changshu, Lianyungang and Taizhou Ports, the second is Shandong Province ports such as Penglai, Rizhao, Qingdao and Lianshan.

Guangdong Province and borders in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are important for sawnwood imports.

Source: ITTO TTM Report

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Exploring robotic forestry machines

Robotics opportunities in forestry explored - Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organisations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway.

Local forestry contractors in conjunction with local engineering companies have really led the charge. Firstly, a myriad of new designs and operations, including vision systems for remote operation of equipment, have been introduced to extract wood safely off steeper slopes. More recently, tele-operation of wood extraction has successfully been trialled in New Zealand where the operator is sitting separately and away from the felling and log extraction operations.

Instead, they’re sitting in an operator’s cabin (can be on or off site) with live video and audio feedback from the machine being transmitted to the operator. The console with joysticks and pedals (not too dissimilar to the Xbox they’re probably using at home) is a replica of the layout in the felling machine. In addition to improving worker safety, remote controlled felling will change how wood harvesting is undertaken on steeper terrain.

Having a similar impact on the wood supply chain are the rapid advances being made in loading and transporting wood. Like remote felling, virtual reality goggles have been introduced where operators can now operate log loading cranes remotely in the relative safety of the truck cab. The objective, like remote felling is to develop the technology so that the operator is out of the truck and operating the crane remotely from a distance.

“Advancements in robotics and automation for forestry companies, everything from planting, silviculture, wood harvesting, extracting the wood from the forest site and transporting logs to the port or processing plant are moving at a fast pace” says Grant Dodson, chairperson of the Southern Wood Council (SWC).

In August the FIEA Forest Industry Safety and Technology Conference (see www.forestsafety.events) will also expand on the robotics theme, with a particular focus on how robotics can enhance safety in our operations.

To provide local operations with an insight into just where the technology is heading, both internationally and locally, and the opportunities for using remote controlled and autonomous machinery, the SWC is running a meeting for the forest products industry in the lower South Island.

Rien Visser, Forest Engineering, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury will be presenting his findings to local companies from just completed research undertaken for the Australian forest products sector in late 2017. It looks at remote control, tele- operation and automation of forest operations, both inside and outside the forestry industry.

“There are some clear near-future opportunities, including operating extraction machines such as skidders and forwarders without an operator. This will not only increase efficiency, but allow good operators to work on more complex machines, and provide a unique opportunity for new equipment design” says Professor Visser.

“Advanced robotic systems are already commonplace in controlled workspaces such as factories. The future of wood harvesting systems is most certainly going to be robotic. The SWC meeting will be exploring the use of remote controlled or autonomous machines in these more complex environments like forestry operations,” says Mr Dodson.

The meeting runs in Balclutha on Wednesday 14 March.

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Australia: Log transport safety workshops

Safety workshops for forestry contractors will take place across Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia in coming months as part of a campaign hosted by the Australian Forestry Contractors Association (AFCA).

AFCA general manager Stacey Gardiner tells ATN that the three-hour workshops, which have already been held in sites in Western Australia and Queensland, provide training on truck rollover, load restraint risks and Chain of Responsibility.

The training modules, developed in consultation with engineering firm Engistics, are expected to be rolled out to more than 300 operators and loaders across the forestry supply chain.

Ms Gardiner said the workshops held so far, in the WA towns of Albany and Bridgetown and Queensland centres of Caloundra and Gympie, had been very well attended.

"Industry participants have commented that this has allowed them to improve their understanding of Chain of Responsibility laws and hear about recent research and findings regarding key risks specific to industry, especially relating to load restraint," she said.

The programs have been funded in part through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program.

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Stumped? Remove unwanted bluegums

Meet the Aussie-American duo planning to solve a problem that's stumped others. Naracoorte’s Brad Dickenson knew he was looking at something special when he saw a video clip on social media of a machine in USA wrenching old stumps out of the ground.

Brad is a mechanic and he saw it as the perfect solution for removing unwanted bluegum stumps from the so-called green triangle of southeast South Australia and western Victoria.

“I always keep my eye out for new technologies coming out,” he said. “I’ve been fixing all these machines in forestry and realising they’re slow, they break, and they cost a lot of money to fix. When I saw this machine, I started doing my research very quickly before anyone else saw it so I could snap one up for myself and get out there in the field before anyone else jumps on board.”

The machine was developed by USA company Savannah Global Solutions. Director Mark Sauer says the inspiration for the “stump plucker” was a machine from the 1970s that was being used to extract Christmas tree stumps. Mark said the challenge to replicate this machine was set by a client who processed harvest residuals and recycled wood into biomass for boiler fuel to produce electricity.

The machine has two lifting wheels mounted so that it rolls over the stumps and pulls the stumps into their midpoint, and it grabs them with enough force to pull them out of the ground. The Australian machine is patent pending, a hydraulic compression system that “really allows us to run longer with less downtime than if we were using the spring option on the original product”, Mark says.

The current version in Australia was released in WA last September and Brad had the chance of seeing that machine in action. The stump plucker works in conjunction with a separate rake, which Mark says is mainly to pile the stumps to minimise the area they occupy.

Dickenson imported the “stump plucker”. He says it could be used for different trees, blue gums are the target. “The industry here has just come to a stage where the blue gums are all getting chopped down, and basically, they’re getting pulled out. People don’t want them anymore,” he says.

“The price of land has gone up. The price of stock, cropping has all gone up, which has all played a part in getting rid of the blue gum — and the chip price is not so good for blue gums, it has gone down from where it originally was.”

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Council values forest for other benefits

Councillors signal value of Gordon Kear Forest property ownership - Palmerston North City Council’s Finance and Performance Committee has today unanimously voted to recommend that Council retain ownership and consider ways to enhance the community environmental value of the 678 hectare Gordon Kear Forest property, south of the city.

The property currently includes 250 hectares of native forest and 401 hectares of young plantation forestry.

Council began a review into its long term ownership of the property, following the first forestry harvest in 2016. The report was presented to the Committee this morning and confirmed the area’s important social and environmental values, including carbon storage, biodiversity, water supply, recreation, soil and water protection.

The Committee then unanimously voted to recommend that Council retain ownership and consider ways to enhance the area to maximise its value to the city.

“Today’s decision signals the continued value Council places on the area as a significant natural asset and its potential to create better social and environmental opportunities for Palmerston North,” says Fiona Dredge, Council’s Business Development Executive.

“Not only this, but the commercial pine plantation is expected to provide a return of around 6% across the current rotation – in line with national forestry investment returns.”

Further recommendations to Council included undertaking investigations relating to recreational uses and future city water supply options on the property. The recommendations will be voted on as part of a full Council meeting.

Source: Scoop News

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FWPA: New era for commercial timber

FWPA ushers in new era for commercial timber construction in National Construction Code - Quicker, cheaper and greener construction of retail shops, carparks, storage warehouses, laboratories, hospitals, schools and aged care facilities would be enabled under proposed changes contained in the draft 2019 National Construction Code (NCC).

The move would make it easier to use fire-protected timber in all buildings of up to eight storeys in height and builds on the program of work undertaken by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), which previously co-ordinated similar changes for apartments, hotels and offices into the NCC 2016.

FWPA’s proposal has achieved the support of the Australian Building Codes Board’s technical committee – which includes a broad range of representative industry groups such as the fire services, architects, builders, building surveyors, building designers, engineers as well as state planning and building authorities – with extensive modelling to demonstrate timber construction systems can meet the required building and fire safety standards.

Timber construction systems permitted under the Code would include both traditional ‘stick’ framing and newer ‘massive’ timber building systems utilising glue-laminated timber, laminated veneer limber (LVL) as well as cross-laminated timber products, used in buildings such as Library at the Dock in Melbourne and International House in Sydney.

FWPA National Manager Codes & Standards Boris Iskra said that under the proposed changes, builders and developers wanting to use timber would no longer have to undertake time consuming and expensive ‘performance solutions’ to gain building approval, as long as their designs met the deemed-to-satisfy requirements.

“At FWPA, we do everything we can to remove unnecessary restrictions on the use of timber. In 2016, we were successful with introducing similar changes for apartments, hotels and offices – and now we’re on the brink of extending that to other types of buildings,” he said.

“We’re proud to have successfully made the case to the authorities that timber can meet the required standards, and would urge the timber industry and progressive builders and developers to make submissions supporting the proposed changes to the Code – it’s a great opportunity.”

Fire protection measures under the proposed changes include fire-protective grade plasterboard; fire-resisting cavity barriers; and a compliant sprinkler system; as well as hydrants, hose reels and portable fire extinguishers as required.

FWPA managing director Ric Sinclair, said buildings made from sustainably sourced timber are greener than alternatives in a number of respects.

“Obviously, wood stores carbon dioxide over the life of the building, which other materials don’t. It performs well thermally, so it doesn’t require as much energy to heat and cool. It also lends itself to prefabrication and quick installation, meaning less disruption to neighbours and fewer truck movements,” he said.

“The other major advantage is the speed of construction. Time is money when it comes to building.”

Click here to see the draft 2019 National Construction Code
It is open for public and industry comment until 13 April 2018.

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The latest TALLEST Timber Tower

On the occasion of the announcement of" Yet another "World's tallest timber tower" going up in Norway" here is what Lloyd Alter had to say on treehugger.com:

It may be treesonous of me to say this, but we should stop this silly competition to be tallest.

If you search TreeHugger you will find eight posts with the words "tallest timber tower". Here is the latest- an 18 story building in Brumunddal, a small town in Norway.

When you look at a photograph or Google map of Brumundal, the first thing you might wonder is- why does anyone need an 18 story building here, especially one that is pushing the edge of the technical envelope like this?

The second thing you might wonder is, what happened to Brock Commons at 18 stories, isn't it the world's tallest timber tower? Well, no, because evidently the rules, as set by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) that runs the world's tallest buildings lists, have changed, and it is now calling buildings like Brock Commons "wood-concrete Hybrids" because it has a concrete core of elevators and fire exits instead of being 100 percent wood. It's not pure enough.

I am wondering if perhaps we are at the point where this competition to be the tallest timber tower is just getting silly, especially when the Scandinavians are brilliant at designing mid-rise buildings that make far more sense in wood.

After meeting Anthony Thistleton and and discussing his Dalston Lanes project, I wrote:

Neither Thistleton or Waugh have much time for the super-tall wood towers that architects are competing to build, and prefer to build mid-rise. I think they are right, that it is a better typology for CLT and wood construction. That's why I have written that With wood on the rise, it's time to bring back the Euroloaf. This is what wood buildings want to be.

Writing in Dezeen, Clare Farrow says much the same thing:

In fact, Andrew Waugh's argument is that we don't necessarily need to be thinking of wooden skyscrapers in London, however seductive the concept is, but rather of increasing density across the board. He is thinking more in terms of 10-15 storey buildings, which many believe to be the comfortable height for human beings. What is needed, he argues, is a broader political understanding of the potential of engineered timber.

More >>

Source: treehugger.com

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... something for a chuckle (hopefully)

No one is more cautious than a first-time parent. After our daughter was big enough to ride on the back of my bicycle, I bought a special carrier with a seat belt and got her a little helmet.

The day of the first ride I put her in the seat, double-checked all the equipment, wheeled the bike to the end of the driveway, carefully looked both ways and, swinging my leg up over the crossbar, accidentally kicked her right in the chin.


A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.

I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

Broken pencils are pretty much pointless.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

Thanks for keeping up with the latest wood news with us!
Have a safe and productive week.

John Stulen

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