WoodWeek 8 July 2020
Remember the good old days when politicians left forestry alone? Perhaps back then we should have been careful what we wished for. Since last year's grand plan for politicians to take credit for planting half a billion trees that industry was always going to "replant" anyway; to now telling landowners where not to plant them. Who would have thought today's candidates would be so keen to interfere in an industry that successive governments have loved to ignore for much of the last century? How long will they keep their beaks in our business this time? With exotic forestry looking so carbon friendly and fiscally attractive, we may have them riding on our coat- tails for a while yet.
Opinion: New Construction Policy Will Deliver More Timber Use - The Forest Owners Association says the MBIE announcement of ‘Building for Climate Change’ will mean more timber is used in New Zealand construction. FOA President Phil Taylor says he’s been waiting three years for the government to announce a wood preference, or wood first policy, for new government buildings, since it was part of the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto.
“Even though the MBIE announcement, just out, doesn’t mention wood at all, the inevitable result of a government attempt to drive down the use of carbon emitting building materials, will mean more wood is used in construction overall. So, it’s potentially better than having ‘wood first’ which would have been restricted to just the government sector”, says Taylor.
He says the biggest impact could be in mid- and high-rise construction, so that builders of commercial facilities will use more wood. Technical advances, such as Laminated Veneer Lumber and Cross Laminated Timber, allow taller wooden buildings to be made.
More good news: ACC levies will stay the same until 31 March 2022 for work and earners’ levies, and 30 June 2022 for motor vehicle levies.
Meanwhile, in Australia, private forestry operators will gain access to the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, under a federal government proposal to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional jobs and support investment in the sector. The government will simplify access to carbon funding for new forestry projects in five regional forestry hubs, including communities hard hit by last summer's bushfires. This will enable the forestry sector to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund.
This week we have for you:
FOA reacts to farmland protective policy plansThe Forest Owners Association is startled that the new Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chair is asking the government to restrict the right of farmer members to plant trees or sell their land for forestry.
Recently elected Meat and Wool Chair, William Beetham, has issued a media release calling what he says is the announced intention of the government to restrict forest planting as a ‘step in the right direction’.
Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor (pictured), says he is concerned that Federated Farmers have taken a hard and emotive line since the election of their new executive late last month.
“The Feds have previously strongly supported the right of landowners to make their own decisions about what to do with their own land.”
“There are many farmers who have woodlots. Beef + Lamb NZ has recently stated that this amounts to 180,000 hectares over New Zealand farmland.”
“Much of this would have been planted by farmers who realise the long-term farming prospects on marginal country are not good, and they feel more economically secure in planting much of their farm in trees.”
Phil Taylor says the Feds’ claims about the economics of afforestation are quite wrong.
“Per hectare, per year, the export returns from forestry are way above the returns from sheep and beef farming. Forestry will save many rural communities.”
“Employment in forestry, from the same area, is also above that from hill country farming.”
Phil Taylor says the Feds’ statement is also illogical.
“Mr Beetham demands government protection for what he calls his ‘vital food and fibre industry’. But, even before the recent wool-price crash, the yearly New Zealand export return from wool is only one tenth of the return from products made from wood - which is a fibre too.”
“This is not the 1960s anymore. Economies change.”
Phil Taylor says he is amazed at the added demand that the government should also stop the more marginal land being planted in trees.
“Foresters have little interest in the highly fertile land. It is too expensive. But it’s unbelievable that Mr Beetham should insist that marginal East Coast country, with a Land Use Capability rating of six or higher, should also be considered for restrictions.”
“Some of this land can’t support farming any more. Much of it is in severe drought with NIWA predictions for this happening more often. These farmers are facing huge costs of fencing off waterways under the impending freshwater discharge rules.”
“These are farmers who want to sell out or plant productive forests themselves. However, the message from Federated Farmers is to tell the government to block this opportunity for their own farmer members.”
Australia: Government cuts red tape for forestryAustralia: Government cuts red tape for forest industry to Climate Solutions Fund - Private forestry operators will gain access to the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, under a federal government proposal to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional jobs and support investment in the sector.
The government will simplify access to carbon funding for new forestry projects in five regional forestry hubs, including communities hard hit by last summer's bushfires, Energy and Emissions Reduction minister Angus Taylor says.
This will enable the forestry sector to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
"Reducing red tape for projects located in the five Regional Forestry Hubs will support regional jobs and investment, including in communities hard hit by last summer's bushfires," he said in a statement on Thursday.
"This will make it easier for the private sector to invest in new Australian forestry projects, supporting jobs and reducing emissions."
The ERF has committed $1.9 billion to projects in regional and rural areas since 2014, with more funding available through the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund.
The government says that through the CSF, it is targeting "dollar-for-dollar co-investment to drive $4 billion of investment in emissions reduction projects across Australia".
Major paper manufacturer Visy has described the decision as a "triple win" for the economy, the environment and the community.
"This important rule change is welcome news to Visy, Australia's Forestry Industry and the 55,000 jobs it supports because it means new plantations, new investment and most importantly new jobs in regional forestry areas," a spokesman said in a statement.
"The plan calls for establishing an initial footprint of new plantations of more than 20 million trees requiring an investment of over $200 million with scope for further investment beyond that."
The initial locations are southwest Western Australia, the 'Green Triangle' of South Australia, north/northwest Tasmania, and the northeast and southwest slopes of NSW.
Labour: Councils for forestry consentingLabour policy would put forestry decisions in council hands - The Labour Party will get tough on forestry conversions if it wins the next election, it says. Announcing the proposal to allow local councils to determine what classes of land can be used for forestry, Labour Party forestry spokesperson Stuart Nash (pictured) said the change would take place in the first six months of the next term of government.
The move has been supported with reservations by Federated Farmers but strongly opposed by the Forest Owners Association.
"Resource consent would be required for plantation or carbon forests on Land Use Capability Classes 1-5 - often known as elite soils - above a threshold of 50 hectares per farm," Nash said.
"While 90 percent of forestry planting for (carbon absorption) happens on less productive soils in classes 6-8, we want to ensure all planting happens away from our most valuable soils, 1-5."
The legislation would revise the National Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry. Federated Farmers Meat & Wool chairperson William Beetham praised the policy.
"We're really pleased there is now acknowledgement there's an issue with large-scale exotic plantings - particularly those grown just for carbon credits - swallowing up land used for food and fibre production," he said.
"The result of this trend is loss of export income, employment and the undermining of rural social cohesion."
Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor said Federated Farmers was actually contradicting a long standing policy of allowing landowners such as farmers to make their own decisions on what to do with their own land. He said its claims about the economics of afforestation were wrong.
"Per hectare, per year, the export returns from forestry are way above the returns from sheep and beef farming," he said.
"Forestry will save many rural communities."
He said there was no need for the law to protect high quality land from forestry - it was already so expensive that foresters would not buy it anyway, and would instead leave it to other uses such as dairy farms.
Federated Farmers' support for the proposal was not wholehearted, Taylor said. Getting resource consent from a council was expensive and cumbersome - and a better way had to be found to solve this problem.
Source and photo credit: RNZ
SnapSTAT: Monthly log harvest volumes since 2018
WorkSafe not exercising new powersWorkSafe squandering strengthened powers - A Wellington lawyer whose investigation of a forestry death helped prompt an independent review of Worksafe says the agency is squandering its strengthened powers. As RNZ reported last week, the independent review found multiple failings in the way Worksafe investigates deaths and injuries on the job. Yet the review still said the says investigations are good quality. Lawyer Hazel Armstrong speaks to Corin Dann.
Government: ACC levy freeze to 2022Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022 - The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID- 19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says.
“New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a result of COVID-19. We're taking practical steps to support levy payers throughout these difficult times, while also safeguarding the ACC scheme,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.
“We will be maintaining the current levy rates for the next 2 years. The economic outlook is uncertain, so holding levy rates is a prudent decision. It provides some certainty to businesses and other levy payers and gives ACC more time to reliably assess the impact of COVID-19 on its finances.
“The previous Government increased levies during the global financial crisis only to find they were too high in following years. We are taking a cautious approach and ensuring we do not add to pressure on businesses and New Zealanders where it’s not necessary.
“ACC is also helping businesses by delaying invoices normally sent in early July. These will be issued in October to give firms more time and flexibility in making their levy payments. Other invoices issued this year will also be on hold for three months.
Iain Lees-Galloway says the Government is changing the funding targets for the Levied Accounts to ensure levies reflect the true costs of accidents and minimise long-term impacts on levy payers.
“ACC’s previous funding target of 105% solvency for the Levied Accounts was more suited to a private insurance company. We are lowering this target to 100% solvency, which is appropriate given ACC’s unique position as a mandatory, sole provider and Government-supported social insurance scheme.
Levies will stay the same until 31 March 2022 for work and earners’ levies, and 30 June 2022 for motor vehicle levies.
Tolaga Bay recovery may take 100 yearsEnvironmental devastation at Tolaga Bay may take a century to recover, says councillor - Forestry waste has again flooded the beaches of Tolaga Bay. A video of a log-covered Tolaga Bay beach had been shared widely on social media last week. A storm hit the district on Queen's Birthday weekend 2018, washing over 40,000 cubic metres of wood onto beaches.
"We had 300 millimetres [of rain] up there over the weekend and a total new amount of wood has come down," local farmer Henry Gaddum said.
Gisborne district councillor Kerry Warsnop said the slash littered beach was the "new normal". She said there was consensus in the community that this was what Tolaga Bay beach would look like for the foreseeable future.
Heavy rainfall was common in the region. The rain, combined with soft sedimentary soil, meant that any slash – or foresty waste – left on the hills that could be washed away ended up in the sea, and was then pushed back onto the beach, she said.
Gisborne District Council director of environmental services and protection, Helen Montgomery, said it took the matter seriously and was investigating reports of slash washed up on the beach at Tolaga Bay.
Source: Stuff News
Labour: Right tree ... WRONG farmLabour Party moves to protect productive farmland - Labour MPs say they will require any conversion of highly productive farmland into forestry to have a resource consent to ensure rural communities are well supported during our economic recovery.
“While we will continue to plant the right tree in the right place to meet our climate change challenges, our food producing soil will be our number one priority,” Labour Party Forestry spokesperson Stuart Nash said.
“Within the first six months of the next term of Government, we will revise the National Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry to enable councils to once again determine what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.
“Resource consent would be required for plantation or carbon forests on Land Use Capability Classes 1-5 – often known as elite soils – above a threshold of 50 hectares per farm to allow farmers flexibility in creating small plantations to support environmental goals,” Stuart Nash said.
“While 90 per cent of forestry planting for ETS purpose happens on less productive soils in classes 6-8, we want to ensure all planting happens away from our most valuable soils 1-5,” Labour Party rural communities spokesperson Kieran McAnulty said.
“Forestry is not bad: we need the right tree in the right place, but we also need the right mechanism to ensure this.
“This move builds on Government work to protect our elite soils – which make up about 14 per cent of our New Zealand soil – including protecting elite Pukekohe soil from urban sprawl.
“Communities know best about their local sectors and should be able to determine whether forestry should be happening on their productive pastoral land.
“People always have a choice about who they sell their farms to, and foreign investment has always been part of our landscape – forestry has been two-thirds foreign owned for many decades.
“We’ve seen land use redistribution across the decades but it will always remain heavily weighted in farmland’s favour. This is even more important as we grow our way out of the Covid economic crisis and ensure we can keep exporting the very best, and nutritious, food and fibre to the world,” Kieran McAnulty said.
New Zealand has approximately 12.1 million hectares in farmland and 1.7m in forestry, following a decline in forestry which was at 2m hectares in 2002.
Planting the right tree in the right place has seen 22,000 hectares of farmland converted to forestry in 2019, some through the OIO special forestry benefits test, with up to 43,000 hectares estimated to be planted some years to reach the 1 Billion Trees target in 2028. In the past decade, 70,000 hectares of forestry was converted mostly to dairy.
AFPA: Bunnings decision knee-jerk reactionBunnings’ short-sighted decision will cost Aussie jobs and lead to environment-destroying imports - Bunnings’s short-sighted decision to stop stocking timber sourced from Victoria’s sustainably managed native forests and produced by local timber mills, is a knee-jerk reaction to pander to extremist activist groups that will only lead to more imported timber from less sustainably managed forests overseas, Australian Forest Products Association CEO Ross Hampton said.
“This decision puts at risk tens of thousands of Australian manufacturing jobs at a time when our country can least afford to lose them, especially in regional communities,” Mr Hampton said.
Mr Hampton said he was disappointed that Bunnings had been duped by anti-forestry disinformation campaigns that misrepresented the sustainability of Victoria’s native hardwood timber industry and warned it would have the perverse consequence of driving more deforestation in South-East Asia.
“The truth is that Victoria has one of the most regulated, sustainably managed native forestry industries in the world, harvesting the equivalent of just 4 trees out of 10,000. No old growth trees are used, and every area harvested is reseeded and regenerated by law. All Victorian native forest hardwood is harvested according to the highest standards under the world’s largest forestry certification scheme – PEFC, known in Australia as Responsible wood,” Mr Hampton said.
“Bunnings and its customers should be under no illusion that green groups will stop at Victoria – they are hellbent on ending all native forestry in Australia, which will mean even more imported timber from countries at high risk of deforestation and illegal logging, and it will be manufactured in countries with poor working conditions,” Mr Hampton concluded.
Bunnings stops selling timber logged by VicForests after court ruling - Retail chain will stop selling timber logged by VicForests after a court found the state government-owned forestry agency breached conservation laws.
“Bunnings has a zero-tolerance approach to illegally logged timber that dates back two decades and our commitment is to only source timber products from legal and well managed forest operations,” Bunnings’ director of merchandise, Phil Bishop, said.
Bishop said in light of the recent federal court finding that VicForests breached the code of practice in its regional forestry agreement for the central highlands, Bunnings could no longer stock products that used its timber. The decision comes as the Nature Conservation Council of NSW prepares to launch a campaign calling on the chain to stop selling timber sourced from native forests in New South Wales.
VicForests said it was deeply concerned by Bunnings’ decision and it would be appealing against the federal court judgment once final orders were made in the case. The court found in May that because VicForests had breached the code of practice, its exemption from national environment laws did not apply.
Source: The Guardian
Drone ‘mosaic’ helps find forestry cracksA drone "mosaic" of harvested forestry blocks is letting Marlburians see the wood for the trees, and could cut down environmental issues.
Marlborough company GeoInsight Limited is using drones, 360-degree cameras and an e-bike to "stitch together" images of forestry blocks and help the Marlborough District Council streamline compliance checks.
Of the council's 17 monitoring programmes, forestry is ranked the highest, due to its potential for adverse environmental impacts like land instability, erosion, and driving out native plants and animals.
GeoInsight co-founder Mark Spencer said the same issues cropped up "time and time again" during his decade-long stint as an environment officer at the council, so he teamed up with fellow co-founder and former council business analysis Rob Besaans to create 'RemoteHQ'.
The pair had spent three years developing the software while on independent compliance checks for the council, designing it to be used in the six years post-harvest, when blocks were vulnerable to weather.
"What typically happens is a company comes in, takes all the trees off [a block] and says, 'see you later landowner. Good luck with that'.
"The block will sit idle during that 'window of vulnerability' period and landowners just really hope that no big weather events come through. If there is, a lot of the time ... they tend not to do a lot of maintenance.
"It's important that pressure is put on either the landowner or the company to maintain what they put in place, otherwise we get erosion."
The software would help make compliance "proactive, rather than reactive", he said.
The pair would send up a drone to photograph the forestry block, with images "stitched together" to create a high-definition mosaic. Shots were also taken on foot.
An e-bike was used to get around forestry blocks and move equipment.
Spencer said the technology allowed compliance officers to spot issues that weren't visible on foot. He recalled a drone spotting "cracks" on a hillside, which could have triggered a compliance failure if wet weather had dumped forestry materials into the stream below.
After identifying spots that were a compliance failure, concern or excellent, the pair broadcast the results online on the RemoteHQ website for the council, public and other forestry members to see.
A council compliance officer could then use the software to point out problems to forest managers and landowners, with the aim of stopping environmental issues before they occurred.
GeoInsight's fees were paid by landowners, not ratepayers, Spencer said. The pair were developing the software from their own pocket.
Besaans described the software as a "radically new approach" to environmental management, one underpinned by public transparency.
"We set up GeoInsight ... to eliminate erosion and sedimentation across New Zealand, starting with the Marlborough region," he said.
The pair's long-term goal was to see RemoteHQ used by other regional councils.
Councillor Gerald Hope, who held the environment protection and compliance portfolio in Marlborough, said the software was "forward-looking".
"It's great for monitoring and compliance. It's also very good for the [forestry] industry at large to measure their success or failure," he said.
Councillor David Oddie, who said last year the forestry industry needed to take a "serious look" at itself after years of compliance issues, supported the software at a council meeting earlier this month, saying it was "positive" work.
Source: Scoop News
Nelson: Harvesting delayed for local goodNelson City Council’s Forestry Advisory Group (FAG) has made the decision to delay the harvesting of Council trees in the Brook/Codgers area until July 2021.
The delay is designed to give businesses that operate in our forests some breathing space while Nelson recovers from the COVID-19 shutdown.
The harvest had been due to start in July 2020, but after consultation with local operators in our forests it was decided that it was important for businesses not to be interrupted so soon after being able to return to work.
Businesses in the area include the Gravity mountain biking centre, Helibike, Wheel Woman, and bike coach/guide Sandy Vincent. This will also allow recreational users more time to get out on their bikes in the area after many trails were closed to mountain biking during the shutdown.
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, who sits on the Forestry Advisory Group, says Council wants to do everything in its power to help local businesses recover.
“Some of Nelson’s most innovative businesses operate within our incredible natural environment. Small, owner-operated businesses are the heartbeat of our local economy, so it’s vital that we allow these operators to get back up and running without further interruptions. I urge Nelsonians to get out onto our trails and into our forests to lend their support.”
Harvesting had originally been moved from October 2019 to July 2020 to avoid clashing with the peak season for mountain biking. The new dates still respect that decision, while ensuring that forestry companies will eventually be able to harvest.
Nelson Mountain Bike Club Comms Manager Brent Goddard welcomed the news.
"NMTBC is appreciative of NCC for revising and postponing the harvest dates. We are pleased that the new dates will have far less impact on our members riding in Codgers Bike Park."
"Krankin Kids mountain bike coaching is stoked to see the logging of Codgers pushed out another year and mountain biking access retained for this winter and into spring/summer,” says Wheel Woman Emma Bawtree.
“Our Krankin Kids (and Whanau) are so loving being back on the trials again after lockdown and are buzzing.”
Heart of Biking Trail Manager Joshua Aldridge says moving the harvest date was a pragmatic decision.
“This decision gives businesses that operate in our forests some much needed time and space to get back up and running. But this is also good news for tourism operators throughout our region, as domestic tourists will be able to come and enjoy all of our great rides if they pick Nelson for a post-COVID winter break!”
Forestry Advisory Group Chair John Murray says the right balance has been struck.
“Forestry is one of Nelson’s biggest exports, and key to the region’s economic success. But there are many other ways in which people make a living from our natural surrounds. I’d like to thank Council’s harvesting contractor PF Olsen for agreeing to the delay at this vital time.”
BC private forest owner on log exportsBritish Columbia: Private forestland owner - Log exports needed to keep model sustainable for domestic mills - The ability for BC’s private forest-land owners to export logs is crucial for the maintaining of supplies to domestic mill production - which is why it is vital to the entire sector for Ottawa to temporarily allow more log exports, officials with Mosaic Forest Management said.
The topic re-emerged on the forefront of the national policy debate surrounding the pricing model for logs produced in BC after a coalition of unions, environmental groups and mill operators sent a letter to Ottawa earlier this month asking the feds to reject Mosaic’s proposal to temporarily lift log-export limits.
But Domenico Iannidinardo, vice president of forest & logistics and chief forester at Mosaic, said such opposition is ill-thought-out because exported logs - sold at international log pricing typically 25-30% higher than domestic pricing - are a vital part of what makes the economic model work overall.
Under the current domestic pricing policy, any logs produced in BC slated for export must first go into a pool where domestic mills get the right of first refusal. In this process, domestic mills get to submit a price they wish to pay for the logs, and an Ottawa-appointed committee decides whether the prices are fair. Any log that is left after satisfying domestic demand can then be exported at the higher international pricing.
“Mosaic is very much appreciative and happy with the concept of domestic mills getting the right of first refusal,” Iannidinardo said. “The issue is, for that pricing process - which happens long after a tree is cut and brought to market - prices are typically 25-30% below international prices, and therefore in many cases well below our cost of production for those logs.”
In late 2019, when the global log market became soft, many licencees of BC public forest land actually ceased production, leaving Mosaic as the last company on the West Coast still producing logs. That means that domestic mills - who normally also had public logs they can access - intercepted 100% of Mosaic’s log production at the lower price point, a process that requires being subsidized by at least some international-pricing sales to maintain, Iannidinardo added.
“It means our overall revenue was negative,” he noted of the 2019 situation. “… The most value- added part of forestry is actually growing the tree, and converting it into other things afterwards is an additional, but much smaller, increase in the initial value of growing the tree. And that’s what our business is.”
Ottawa has not responded to either Mosaic’s request for a temporary change in rules (so that some logs can be exported) or to the counter-letter by the coalition including Unifor, San Group Inc. and the Wilderness Committee. The opposition letter argues that if Mosaic’s logs cannot be used for domestic production in BC, then the trees should not be cut in the first place.
Iannidinardo noted again, however, that domestic pricing is set after the log is cut. He added the company is working with domestic mills on achieving long-term supply agreements that guarantee for “cost-certainty” for everyone involved.
Until that happens, however, the only solution is opening some log supplies for export.
“We can subsidize our domestic mills if we have a portion of our market sold at international pricing, and the only way right now we can get access to that pricing is through export customers,” Iannidinardo said. “… If domestic prices get closer to international prices, we will see more reliable levels of harvest in British Columbia. And that would be good for domestic mills and all the loggers, foresters out in the woods.”
Mosaic recently restarted operations on Vancouver Island, although how sustainable the restart is, officials said, will depend on a solution to the domestic pricing issue. The company employs 2,000 contractors during production and spends $25 million a month on supplies and services, as well as supplying returns for thousands of pensioners relying on Canadian public sector pension funds.
Buy and Sell
... and finally ... be nice to older folks
I was in the McDonald’s drive-through this morning and the young lady behind me leaned on her
horn because I was taking too long to place my order.
Lastly, how hard can it be to close the fridge??
Check out this father's challenge...
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