WoodWeek – 19 August 2020

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Greetings from your forest and wood products news team. This week we are saddened to report on the untimely passing of one of Australasia’s most energetic and successful advocates for mass timber, my colleague and personal friend, Gary Caulfield. As a pragmatic thought leader in our Australasian and wider industry, his energy was incomparable in making a difference for mass timber in construction. Speaking for everyone whose lives he touched, we are all devastated. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Fiona and son, David and extended family.

Today, both our stories and our SnapSTAT feature log exports from Germany. Thanks to several million unexpected beetles lunching on eastern European forests, the ligna-carnage continues to result in big log volumes headed even further east.

For our flagship ForestTECH Conference, today we are pleased to announce the addition of pre-conference and post-conference workshops catering for special technology interests. The first covers advances being made in remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory which has been the focus since the annual technology event’s inception back in 2007. The second theme will be focussing on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and are being trialled on flatter terrain by some of the larger forestry companies in New Zealand and Australia. Full details of the programme for both days can be viewed here.

For those of you in the engineered wood industry where building starts are now accelerating, early-bird rates for our 5th Annual WoodWorks Conference in mid-October are still available. This conference is going to be popular as it also includes site visits to mass timber building exemplars still under construction – the Scion Innovation Hub just across the cricket pitch from our office here on Sala Street in Rotorua and the 9-storey tall Auckland City Mission: Homeground building built in CLT in downtown Auckland. Click here to see details and register.

In today’s news, regional leaders in forestry are working hard to encourage understanding among farmers about where forests and farms make sense and can work well together. Carbon prices also continue to attract attention, hence our update from the great team at Carbon Match for you today.

In other news, several industry associations are canvassing the Government about re-classifying forest and wood products as essential services. Meanwhile, Te Uru Rakau reported in an industry meeting this week they have received reports that some logging trucks have been turned away at the Auckland border. However, police have confirmed at lunch time yesterday that they have advised frontline staff that logging trucks are covered under “road freight services” and therefore have an exemption.

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Vale Gary Caulfield

It is with great sadness that we inform you Gary Caulfield passed away last week.

His passing leaves a massive gap in our mass timber construction industry. From our experience, he was the single most enthusiastic, informed and motivating individual our industry has ever had.

As a pragmatic thought leader in our Australasian and wider industry his energy was incomparable in making a difference for mass timber in construction.

Speaking for everyone whose lives he touched, we are all devastated. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife and son and extended family.

If you are considering a way to celebrate, recognise or remember Gary the family would like you to consider making a donation to MATES in Construction NZ in his memory.

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Log and Lumber Exports from Germany

Germany continued to export logs at record pace in early 2020, with almost 50% of the volume destined for China - The log market in Germany has been extremely volatile in the first half of 2020, with high demand from the export market and a tight supply of fresh green logs. When the Coronavirus Epidemic forced sawmills to close in March, domestic demand for sawlogs fell and the price increases seen earlier in the quarter reversed – resulting in both domestic and export prices falling.

Sawlog prices varied throughout the country depending on the level of local supply, the quality of the beetle-killed timber, the availability of fresh logs, and the competition from log exporters.

Log prices also varied due to contract volumes and spot purchases. Towards the end of the quarter, spot prices fell to levels that barely covered the costs for logging and hauling the timber. The 1Q/20’s estimated average sawlog price was an increase from the previous quarter but substantially lower than the 1Q/19, according to the WRQ.

Softwood log exports from Germany have increased dramatically over the past five years, from 2.1 million m3 in 2014 to 7.4 million m3 in 2019. The oversupply of logs resulted in record high exports in the 3Q/19 followed by two quarters of q-o-q declines (see chart). Despite the reduction in exports during the winter months, total shipments during the first four months of 2020 were up 38% as compared to the same period in 2019.

China has quickly become the largest market for German logs, accounting for almost 50% of all exported logs so far in 2020. From January to April this year, almost 2.4 million m3 of softwood logs were shipped to China. Log exportation from Europe to Asia is a recent trend. As late as 2017, there were practically no shipments of German logs outside of Europe.

Source: WRI Market Insights – Wood Resources Quarterly

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Marcus Musson takes a stand

Whanganui's Marcus Musson takes stand against anti-forestry and carbon credit critics - There has been much hype and media attention in the past 12 months around the conversion of farmland to forestry, primarily for carbon.

There have been all sorts of social media groups and keyboard warriors vilifying the forest industry and anyone that dares to contemplate realising their investment in their farms by establishing a forest.

Recent TV advertising by the largest anti-forestry/farm conversion group, 50 Shades of Green, have shown that the truth can be used very loosely or not at all. Unfortunately, our industry body, The New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) attempted to rebut this campaign with a decidedly average TV advertisement that did little to help our cause and was soon taken down.

Very few countries can grow exotic trees as efficiently and quickly as we can. As trees are excellent carbon storage devices, the ability of NZ to lock up vast quantities of carbon as an offset to carbon emissions has become apparent.

The government signed up to the Paris Accord and we now have until 2050 to become 'carbon neutral' or risk some very heavy costs to cover our shortfall as a nation.

As we are all addicted to fuel, the chances of becoming carbon neutral through a vast reduction in fossil fuel use are highly unlikely. Thus, the most cost-effective way of offsetting this is forestry – hence the Billion Tree Programme.

To put some numbers around carbon, an average forest in the North Island will grow about 800 tonnes of carbon per hectare by age 28. The current carbon price is around $34 per tonne which gives $27,200 per hectare or around $1080 per hectare per year.

Not a bad return, especially on marginal country.

The Productivity Commission released a report last year that calculated the price of carbon had to be over $70 per tonne before the average Joe's behaviour around fossil fuels changed – that's pretty much double the above numbers and not unforeseeable if we want to meet our 2050 targets.

As an industry, we do not want to see wholesale conversion of highly productive farmland into forestry for purely carbon reasons. But we do see a significant opportunity for landowners to optimise the value of their land through smart land use.

If trees (and carbon) are part of this mix is this really any different to putting a flat paddock into an annual crop as opposed to grass?

The majority of the newly established forests will be entered into the Emissions Trading Scheme and the subsequent carbon sold to realise the investment. The problem arises when a forest is established solely for carbon sequestration with no intention of harvesting the crop.

These forests are planted at high stocking rates with no subsequent pruning or thinning. This creates a crop which is very unlikely to have an economic value at maturity due to the very small individual tree size.

This method may be suitable for remote areas of poor country that have no other viable land use. However, for productive land with multiple land uses this is purely sacrilege as the land is effectively permanently out of commission once the forest has reached maturity.

A forest that is established with the intention of an income from harvesting plus an intermediary income from the sale of the carbon will create value throughout the life cycle of the forest.

To create a saleable tree crop the forest is generally pruned and thinned or at least thinned to give trees that are of suitable size for domestic or export markets. The resulting wood products are used in all manner of products from construction to paper production both domestically and overseas.

While this is an alternative land use to traditional sheep and beef production, the land can be returned to farmland following harvest should the fundamentals change.

We all agree that the labour demand for a single age class forest can be lumpy but regions with multi-age class forests provide significant and consistent employment opportunities.

So, in summary, managed forests are an alternative land use to farming. In marginal areas on farm, (i.e 2-3SU/ha) a managed forest has been proven to provide much better economic returns in many regions.

Forests provide considerable employment in rural sectors, are a large contributor to the country's GDP and provide products with which to construct the things we like to live in.

Climate change is not going away, and it is generally accepted that locking carbon into forests is a very effective mitigator for this.

While the debate about land conversion to forestry is a hot one, the need for informed discussion has never been so important.

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Workshops added to ForestTECH Conference

As previously reported, ForestTECH 2020 is being run this year. At this stage, because of COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel, it’s being run as a physical conference along with exhibitions in Rotorua, New Zealand on 18-19 November.

Those unable to travel or get into New Zealand also have the opportunity of being involved as for the first time this year, it’s going to be streamed live to a wide range of Australian and international delegates.

In addition to the changed format for delivery, for the first time, the well-established two-day event is broken into two themes, the first being advances being made in remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory which has been the focus since the annual technology event’s inception back in 2007.

The second theme will be focussing on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and are being trialled on flatter terrain by some of the larger forestry companies in New Zealand and Australia. Full details of the programme for both days can be viewed here.

As an extra to those who will be attending the Rotorua event in person, three workshops or meetings have been set to capitalise on those travelling into Rotorua.

1. The first is a two hour focussed workshop being run by Eagle Technology at the conference venue on the morning of Tuesday 17 November. It will provide an updated overview of the ArcGIS platform (10.8.1) and a focus on GIS insights and location intelligence powered by drone flight data with ArcGIS.

2. The second is a half-day Remote Sensing Cluster Group meeting that’s being run on the afternoon of Tuesday 17 November. The meeting will combine recent research focussing on tree detection and forest health with a presentation around developing a sector-wide strategy to bring the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) to small and large forest growers. The second part of the meeting will present a series of talks that launch a new working group focussed on tech transfer of UAV related research to industry. This “Tools For Foresters” Working Group, will comprise a cluster of foresters and researchers who will be able to beta-test research tools and methods, accelerating the research and tech transfer process. Further information can be obtained by emailing: michael.watt@scionresearch.com. Please also find attached an outline of the planned programme.

3. A half-day demo and workshop on the Hovermap LiDAR simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technology which is being used for collecting very detailed stem data under canopy, is also being run by Interpine and Emesent following the conference and exhibitions on the morning of Friday 20 November. Numbers may need to be limited for this practical workshop. Further details will be supplied shortly.

Information on the three workshops running in and around the ForestTECH 2020 event in Rotorua can be read here

Full details on the planned two-day ForestTECH 2020 event can also be seen here.

Photo: Interpine

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SnapSTAT - Top 10 to China

Top 10 suppliers for China's imported logs in the first half of 2020 - volume cu.m

Data Source: China Customs

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Dealing with edge effects in forest inventories

Edge Plots – Forest Inventory Procedures Using PlotSafe - Before engaging staff in the field, an appropriate inventory planning step will save time and cost of the resulting forest inventory, as well as improve sample accuracy and precision. An element often missed when conduction forest inventories are dealing with forest edges. These have to be sampled correctly to prevent a biased inventory.

Edge plots (also known as mirage plots) are applied when part of the standard plot falls outside the forest boundary – typical net stocked area (NSA) of the forest inventory. Edge trees are often known for being shorter and larger trees with larger branching and increased damage from environmental factors. Basal area and stocking may be affected by the length of the drip-line related to NSA mapping.

There are several methods to sample edge plots; no method is more right than others, what is paramount is the measuring of edges. Before considering the establishment of edge plots the boundary definition has to be in place.

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ForestTECH Conference - Despite uncertainties in Australia, our forest technology annual event is running as planned on 18-19 November in New Zealand and online. Some changes to the usual format to cope with Covid-19 conditions are in place for this year's event. Subject themes are split for the first time between remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory and forest establishment, mechanised planting and silviculture, two half-day workshops. In- field demonstrations are planned both before and after the planned conference and exhibition. Click here to register.

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No land use conflict in Wairoa

No 'farming versus forestry approach' for northern Hawke's Bay – The Hawke's Bay Regional Council insists it's not pursuing a "farming versus forestry" strategy, as a Wairoa farmer fears a report commissioned by the council is a nail in the coffin. The report surveyed farmers to get their thoughts on planting trees in the Wairoa district.

The report titled "Community perceptions and values: Land-use change in the Wairoa district" was written by Dr Willie Smith and. Council chief executive James Palmer said Smith's report was commissioned for research as part of a "Right Tree Right Place" project.

"[It] was aimed at helping us understand the perceptions of farmers of planting trees in the landscape in order to inform policy design," he said. For the project, the regional council is assessing how it can improve erodible land in the region.

According to the council's website, planting certain trees on erodible land can improve financial returns, increase habitat for native species like kiwi and reduce the sediment run off into Hawke's Bay waterways.

The council would work with Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) to meet its One Billion Trees by 2028. Smith's report acknowledged the One Billion Trees programme was a threat to farmers' identities and "way of life".

"Increased afforestation is perceived as decreasing job opportunities, promoting depopulation, closing public facilities and as a threat to the survival of small, rural communities."

But he acknowledged scientists and researchers believe more forests could "significantly" counter climate change and improve erosion control, biodiversity and water quality. "In Wairoa, afforestation challenges a history of landscape change closely tied to clearing the bush and successfully creating a vibrant pastoral economy."

The report advises the regional council to design afforestation initiatives with the community to "navigate a path through conflicting views". It also recommended the council facilitate seminars and discussion groups that include farmers and forestry representatives.

For more details on the report click here

More from RNZ >>

Source: RNZ

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Carbon Market Update

NZUs have firmed all the way to $34 today despite caution about what a further potential lockdown could mean for businesses in NZ and hence underlying compliance demand for the year ending June 2021.

Surrender and allocation statistics for the 2019 calendar year were released this evening, albeit in a new format to that of the last 10 years. Here is a rundown of the key facts:
  • FPO usage was low relative to the previous calendar year, probably reflecting spot market conditions and uncertainty related to Covid-19 as we approached the May surrender deadline.

  • For the year ended 30 June 2020 it appears that there was an aggregate surrender of just over 40 million tonnes.

  • About 21% of this liability (8.6 million tonnes) was met using the fixed price option mechanism at a price of $25 per NZU. (Current spot price $34).

  • That usage of the fixed price option is roughly half the volume of credits that were paid at the fixed price option for the previous compliance year (over 50%).

  • Cash received by the Government under the FPO amounted to $215 million dollars for the year ended 30 June 2020, vis-a-vis some $420 million cash received the previous year.

  • As of 30 June 2020, i.e. following the surrender deadline, there were 121.4 million units sitting in privately held accounts.

  • Some 66 million of those remained in the hands of foresters or entities that had at some point registered for a forest activity.

  • Just over 25 million were in the hands of entities that are registered or have at some stage registered for any other (non-forestry) activity, i.e. emitters.

  • A further 30 million were in the hands of institutions or private account holders with no obligation under the ETS, and with no involvement in forestry or any other ETS activity.

What does this all mean? We believe that there will be a number of emitters wishing that they had taken what might now look like a cut-price deal from the Government on carbon ($25 compared with the current spot price of $34).

But that's just bygones - and the current situation is that there continues to be a $35 fixed price option covering emissions from activities in the 2020 year.

More >>

Source: Carbon Match

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Wellington forest protection boost

Greater Wellington proposes Operation to save Old Growth Forests - An operation to save approximately 11,400 hectares of pristine old growth forest, including 3000 hectares of plantation forestry, from damage caused by predators in the Akatarawa Forest is being proposed by Greater Wellington. “Possum numbers in the forest have risen way above acceptable levels. We need to act now to limit the threat they pose to some of the most treasured forests in the region.

“If we leave them unchecked we will see significant degradation of the forest environment and the habitats it provides for a wide range of regionally and nationally significant native plants, birds and animals,” says Greater Wellington General Manager, Catchment, Wayne O’Donnell.

The operation will have the additional benefit of simultaneously controlling populations of rats and stoats, which also predate on native plants, birds and animals.

Greater Wellington’s proposal is for an aerial possum control operation in the Akatarawa Forest from early November, using the biodegradable pesticide sodium fluoroacetate (1080). It would follow previous aerial 1080 possum control operations, which were carried out in the area in 2007 and 2013. Regular control operations are required for optimum predator control.

“The operation will be subject to strict safety, quality-assurance and monitoring requirements, and full information will be given to neighbouring properties and user groups,” says Wayne O’Donnell.

Helicopters will be equipped with GPS navigational technology to ensure the bait is accurately placed within agreed operational areas and identified ‘exclusion zones’ are avoided. This would only take place occur during suitable weather, timed for early November. The use of 1080 requires consent from the Medical Officer of Health. It also must comply with both the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, and the Resource Management Act.

Under the proposed approach non-toxic pre-feed cereal pellets would be sown by helicopter across the forest, attracting and familiarising possums to the bait and encouraging them to later consume toxic pellets which will be sown in a follow-up operation. They will be applied at a rate of 2kg per hectare, less than the equivalent of one small box of laundry powder per rugby-field-sized area. 1080 breaks down when mixed with water into a harmless substance. In June 2011 the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment strongly endorsed its continued use in New Zealand. To make the pellets less attractive to birds they are 20mm in diameter, coloured green and incorporate cinnamon.

If the proposed operation proceeds, the forest will be closed to all recreational users for three to four days so main tracks can be cleared of 1080 pellets. Following this, motorised recreation, mountain biking and walking will be permitted if precautions on the poison warning signs are followed.

Greater Wellington works in partnership with six mana whenua entities of the region to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for restoring and protecting the flora and fauna of parks, and recognises their interests in a healthy and sustainable environment in the Akatarawa Forest.

Greater Wellington will consult separately with iwi in relation to mana whenua values inherent in the forest and the nature of the operation. Full details of the operation will be provided to farmers and neighbouring properties, along with horse riders and known hunters. Local emergency services, medical centres, veterinary practises and schools will also be notified.

Information will be posted on Greater Wellington’s website. Warning signs and information boards will be put up before the operation starts, and will remain in position until poison residues are no longer present. This will ensure the general public and dog walkers are informed before they enter the forest. Dog walkers will be advised to stay clear of the area until all baits have become nontoxic and possum carcases have decomposed, which will take three to four months following the application of 1080. Statements and updates will also be made to the media and detailed information will be available through Greater Wellington’s website at www.govt.nz.

“We’re rightly proud of our magnificent old growth forests. We’ve heard the call from a broad range of conservation and environmental protection groups to help save them from threats posed by predators. The legacy of this operation will be a thriving forest with sustainable habitats for our native plants, birds and animals, and a wonderful place for our communities to visit,” says Wayne O’Donnell.

Source: Scoop

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Buy and Sell

Finally... your midweek laugh...

A fireman is at the station house working outside on the fire truck when he notices a little girl next door. The little girl is in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the side. She is wearing a fireman's hat and has the wagon tied to a dog.

The fireman says "Hey little girl. What are you doing?"

The little girl says "I'm pretending to be a fireman and this is my fire truck!"

The fireman walks over to take a closer look. "Little girl that sure is a nice fire truck!" the fireman says.

"Thanks mister" says the little girl.

The fireman looks a little closer and notices the little girl has tied the dog to the wagon by its 'gonads'.

"Little girl", says the fireman, "I don't want to tell you how to run your fire truck, but if you were to tie that rope around the dog's neck I think you could go faster."

The little girl says, "You're probably right mister, but then I wouldn't have a siren!'


One day, Mr. Phillard rushed his pregnant wife over to the hospital. As the doctors were prepping his wife, Mr. Phillard's idiot brother Bill arrived to watch the birth. But when Mr. Phillard saw the blood and everything else, he fainted. When Mr. Phillard woke up he was in a bed with the doctor standing above him.

"Mr. Phillard," the doctor said, "you are in the recovery room. Don't worry, your wife is fine and she had twins, a boy and a girl. Because you were unconscious and your wife was still under anaesthesia, she requested that your brother Bill name the kids."

"What! My brother, the idiot! I can't believe you let him! What did he name them?"
"He named your daughter Denise."

"Hey, not bad! I underestimated my brother. What did he name my son?"
"He named your son Denephew."

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

John Stulen, Editor

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