WoodWeek – 14 October 2020

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Greeting from our team to yours. Got some good wood news? ... Email us! This week we’ve got a real mix of the good, bad and the ugly. First, the good news – novel wood applications are being developed in many new ways for fresh solutions to other industry problems. Now, to balance that is the bad news, as some of our old wood processes appear to be headed into oblivion.

The best news is that you, our fantastic industry people are back in force for our upcoming conferences. We’ve been inundated with people registering for both our WoodWorks and ForestTECH conferences. Don’t worry, we have plenty of room left to accommodate everyone. We look forward to seeing you all in person once again next week and next month respectively. Click here to register for WoodWorks or ForestTECH and remember to choose your pre- and post-conference site visits or workshop preferences before they fill up (and they will, sooner rather than later).

Today's SnapSTAT (... a picture is worth a thousand words) compares wood export values of Chile and New Zealand. Both countries have a similar planted production pine estate, yet our export sales outpace Chile's by a reasonable margin in the period shown. This comparison does not show value per cubic metre, but export earnings are a vital part of our economy, and big is good. SnapSTAT is brought to you by the team at Chainsaw & Outdoor Power Limited & Oregon.

Joining the queue forming behind an old aluminium smelter and steel mill, the future of the Tasman newsprint mill in Kawerau is in doubt, with its Norwegian owners seeking alternatives to newsprint production at the site. While the direct employment numbers are being reported as 160 people, there will be a multiplier effect with suppliers and contractors whose livelihoods will be negatively impacted. It’s been no secret the operation had been battling for survival for more than a decade.

Futurity Bio-Ventures has licensed two international technologies for the plant it aims to have operating in 2025. It would convert forestry waste and processing residues into wood-based chemicals for everything from paints to packaging and concrete. They are pushing to develop a $160 million biorefinery near Gisborne. Sounds great, but, as yet there is no mention of who will fund it.

Meanwhile, hot off the press, our industry leaders have weighed in on this lightweight election campaign saying both the Labour and National parties’ policies on forestry, leading into the election, are disappointing. Phil Taylor says the policies jeopardise New Zealand’s post-Covid economic recovery and New Zealand reaching its carbon emission goals. Speaking of election campaign highlights, we’ve got a delightful little clip in todays’ final story (you know the one). A real boon for Mary Poppins fans!

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Kawerau mill future uncertain

The future of the Tasman newsprint mill in Kawerau is in doubt, with its Norwegian owners seeking alternatives to newsprint production at the site. Late last week Norske Skog announced it has ordered a strategic review of one of the central North Island's largest industrial plants. The company has hired KPMG to find alternative production options and is running a strategic review process for the Tasman mill in Kawerau, consistently one of the nation’s poorest regions.

The review is the latest to put the future of one of New Zealand's most energy-intensive industries on the line. The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, NZ Steel's Glenbrook mill and the Refining NZ oil refinery are all currently going through similar reviews. James Hardie’s Penrose building products factory is also facing a review.

The impact of covid-19 on demand for newsprint was cited as the primary reason for a review that has been announced just a week before the Oct. 17 general election.

“Norske Skog has announced to employees and stakeholders in New Zealand that, due to the likely irreversible and rapid negative impact that covid-19 has had on the newsprint industry in the region, the group has engaged in a broad process to identify alternative production options to reposition the Tasman newsprint mill at Kawerau industrial site in New Zealand,” the company said in a statement to the Oslo Stock Exchange.

The company was declared an essential service during the level 4 lockdown in March and April, but only cleared to operate for nine days to provide enough newsprint to keep NZ’s newspapers fully stocked through the period. It typically employs 170 staff and contractors, producing 150,000 tonnes a year.

The potential closure comes a week out from a general election where the incumbent Labour Party is in the box seat to be voted back into power. Kawerau falls in the East Coast electorate, where sitting National Party MP Anne Tolley is retiring.

Norske Skog said it’s considering several options for the long-term future of the site and will start consulting with staff when it has a preference. Among possible uses being considered is a bleached chemical thermo-mechanical facility at the site. The mill was already unprofitable heading into the pandemic, reporting a loss of $20.4 million in calendar 2019, including a $31.5 million impairment charge on the value of its factory. Its gross profit dropped 27 percent to $36 million.

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Source: BusinessDesk

Additional reporting from RNZ:

Norwegian forest products company Norske Skog is reviewing the future of its Tasman newsprint mill at Kawerau. The company said Covid-19 has had a rapid, negative and likely irreversible impact on the industry in the region. It said it was now looking at various long-term options including making bleached chemical pulp and once it had a preference it would be put to staff.

The Kawerau mill employed about 160 staff and it had been battling for survival for more than a decade. That had resulted in temporary closures, halving production to 150,000 tonnes a year, and selling assets. Along with other major energy users it has long complained about high energy costs.

Source: RNZ

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Gisborne plan: Wood for paint and packaging

Gisborne group planning $160m biorefinery: A venture pushing to develop a $160 million biorefinery near Gisborne believes the project can help fill a long-standing gap in the country’s forestry research sector.

Futurity Bio-Ventures has licensed two international technologies for the plant it aims to have operating in 2025. It would convert forestry waste and processing residues into wood-based chemicals for everything from paints to packaging and concrete.

The company has raised $1.5 million to date to fund research into five products for a range of potential end- users it has been working with, including Resene and Foodstuffs. It is aiming to raise a further $3 million by early 2021 to complete work validating the costs, performance, ease of use and value benefits for customers from the products.

The timing to complete the work may vary across different products, but based on previous work, chief executive Jacob Kohn said 19 months is an achievable target for the trialling, preparation of materials and market analysis involved.

Funders of Futurity’s work to date include Callaghan Innovation, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and Trust Tairawhiti, which has been working to develop a wood processing cluster south of Gisborne. LanzaTech founder Sean Simpson joined the firm’s advisory board in August.

Kohn said interest among funders has been good and he is confident the next funding round will be successful. He expects a pre-construction spend of about $15 million, within the total $160 million estimated for the project.

Kohn said New Zealand’s rotation forestry industry is strong, as is its research sector. But to date the latter hadn’t been able to develop new products at scale to capture the unique properties of radiata pine.

Futurity’s focus is on developing high-value materials and advanced renewable chemicals from radiata’s cellulose, hemicellulose and lignan. They can either replace petroleum-based chemicals in existing products, or feed into entirely new products.

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Source: BusinessDesk

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Wood chip, lime and tomatoes - Who knew?

Promising new technology using leftover forestry wood to extract clean carbon dioxide is expected to benefit commercial greenhouses growers and the environment. A Kiwi CO2 invention would help increase crop yield and reduce emissions at the same time.

New Zealand Gourmet's Roelf Schreuder said the produce wholesaler is currently getting CO2 for their Taupo crops from Taranaki as a waste product, which is brought in through trucks every week and "can be a hassle".

Now, Hot Lime Labs has developed a way of producing clean CO2 on site. The technology uses wood chips to warm the plants at night while producing carbon dioxide, which is soaked up by limestone pellets, which acts as a "CO2 sponge," founder and CEO Vlatko Materic said. “It grabs CO2 and lets all the other components out and then releases CO2 on demand on contact with air."

Trials have shown the higher-quality gas creates better produce. “It gives a bigger yield and better fruit at the same time so they probably would have increased the output by 10 per cent,” Materic said.

The company now wants to work with the forestry industry to use its problematic waste wood, or slash. “All the things that would be otherwise just rotting on the ground, emitting their CO2 anyway, and are much lower cost and also readily available everywhere.”

The technology is seen as a game changer for growers in the South Island who rely on coal, which is subject to the emissions trading scheme. Switching to biomass fuel like slash would avoid the cost of levies placed on higher emission energy sources. "By using the opportunity to take the CO2 production from that biomass and add it to the greenhouse, that makes it a much more attractive option for growers," Tomatoes NZ’s Helen Barnes said.

A commercial model is expected in the middle of next year, and there is already interest from growers around the country.

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Source: TVNZ

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FOA: Main political parties have abandoned us

Forest Owners Association: "Main political parties abandon forest industry at economic and environmental cost - The Labour and National parties’ policies on forestry, leading into the election, are disappointing to forest industry leaders. They say the policies jeopardise New Zealand’s post-covid economic recovery and New Zealand reaching its carbon emission goals.

Industry leaders are pointing to recent statements from both the major parties which want to restrict forest planting, as well as potential changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Labour ministers are saying that they want a 50-hectare limit on planting forestry on all but the steepest and most erodible land. They say local councils should be given the power to impose these restrictions. Labour says carbon offsetting is threatening rural communities and unfairly competing with farming.

But Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the recent PwC report, on forestry compared with farm economies, shows that forestry should be seen as a lifeline for some rural communities, and not as a threat.

Farm Forestry Association President, Hamish Levack, says statements by some in the National Party are equally unfounded and negative.

“National Leader, Judith Collins, has complained that pine trees give her hay fever while others in her caucus have complained that plantation forestry planting should be restricted,” Hamish Levack says.

Phil Taylor also points to the National Party Manifesto which he says plans to reintroduce bureaucratic obstacles in the way of overseas forest investment. And it plans to review the place of forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme. If this is a genuine attempt by National to severely decrease industrial greenhouse gas emissions over the next few years, then that is wonderful.”

“In the meantime though, National needs to understand forestry is a vital short-term tool to get New Zealand through the transition.”

Phil Taylor says ACT seems to want to copy the main political parties, with some completely unfounded idea that overseas investors were receiving planting subsidies from the government, and these – non-existent – subsidies should be stopped and restrictions put on where trees can be planted to maintain food production.

But Hamish Levack says ACT is at least on the right track with its wish to have carbon locked into timber products recognised as carbon-capture from the atmosphere in the Emissions Trading Scheme, just as trees are recognised.

Phil Taylor says the Green Party policy sounds the least negative for the forest industry. “It encourages forestry because of what the Greens say is its important contributions to water quality, greenhouse gas sequestration, and economic success. But then Co-Leader Marama Davidson is quoted in the media as saying pine trees were inferior to indigenous forests at carbon capture – which is quite wrong.”

Phil Taylor points to The Opportunities Party’s manifesto support for gene editing.

“Most politicians avoid talking about the advantages of this technology. It’s great that TOP has raised this, as our New Zealand primary sector is increasingly being left behind by our competition in the rest of the world, though completely misplaced fears of what gene editing actually is.”

Phil Taylor also acknowledges the New Zealand First Party forest policy. “It supports things which are important for us, such as industry training. But most importantly, I have to say that Shane Jones, as Forestry Minister, has done a great job of looking after our industry concerns and ambitions.”

“We haven’t supported everything he’s wanted to do, but in the end, a track record can be far more important than promises.”

Source: Forest Owners Association

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NSW: Salvaged timber recovery milestone

Recovery milestone: Two million tonnes of fire salvaged timber sold - Forestry Corporation of NSW has reached an important recovery milestone – two million tonnes of fire-affected timber harvested, hauled and sold from the organisation’s bushfire-affected Tumut and Bombala softwood plantations.

Forestry Corporation’s Acting Snowy Regional Manager, Louise Bourke, said the milestone represents around 46,700 truckloads of logs and was a significant boost for communities recovering from the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season.

“Congratulations to our staff and industry partners for this result,” Ms Bourke said, adding “The salvage harvesting program has meant the local timber industry has had an incredibly busy year, and can continue to support the region’s recovery from the impact of the bushfire season.”

Forestry Corporation is working with local harvesting and haulage contractors and mills to help ensure timber is available for the NSW community to rebuild after the fires.

“Whilst the fire was clearly a devastating event, the recovery process has been a boost for some local contracting businesses this year in what are otherwise very difficult times,” Ms Bourke said. Roughly one third of the plantations in the area surrounding Tumut and Bombala were impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Fire-affected timber has the same structural properties as unburnt timber, so can be harvested and processed into house frames, furniture and other essential renewable wood products. After a fire, there is a 12-month window to salvage the timber before it starts to deteriorate. To find out more about Forestry Corporation and the recovery harvesting program, see www.forestrycorporation.com.au/

Source: Forestry Corporation NSW

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Fatality: Contractor to pay $365k reparations

Company must pay $365k in reparations after death of forestry worker in Northland -A company’s failure to assess risks on a wood block resulted in the death of a forest worker, a court has found.

In May 2017, Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited were engaged by Asian Natural Resources Limited to harvest a wood block in Northland.

While workers were felling the trees, a man who had been using a chainsaw to manually cut them down was found unresponsive, underneath a tree, with fatal crushing injuries.

There were no witnesses to the event, but a WorkSafe investigation found it was likely a tree the worker had felled had brushed past a dead tree, causing the dead tree to uproot and fall, pinning him to the ground.

“The number of dead trees in the block should have been properly considered for the risk they posed and proper ways of working around them should have been managed.

“WorkSafe guidance recommends that dead trees be machine-felled where possible before manual felling takes place.”

Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited was sentenced at the Whangārei District Court on Tuesday.

The company was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and reparation of $365,225 to the victim’s family.

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Source: Stuff

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SnapSTAT - Wood Exports: Values since 2004

Value of Chile Exports of Wood & Wood Articles from 2009-2019
(in US dollars)

Source: tradingeconomics.com


Value of New Zealand Exports of Wood & Wood Articles from 2009-2019
(in US dollars)

Source: tradingeconomics.com

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Port Nelson: Progress amid challenges

Port Nelson Continues To Progress Amid A Challenging Year - Port Nelson has released its 2020 Annual Report which shows the Port’s increasing strength and sustainability in the 2020 financial year amid a series of challenges. The most significant of these was the impact of COVID-19 on cargo volumes, operating costs, and the main wharf re-development project.

Apples, kiwifruit and wine cargoes were strong, reflecting what was a bumper harvest in Tasman. Logs made up approximately 30% of the volume, well down on the record high of the previous year due in part to the dramatic increase in the export of logs from central Europe as a result of a beetle infestation, as well as the close down of the forestry industry during the COVID- 19 lockdown.

The Port’s total cargo for the 2020 financial year was 3.3 million revenue tonnes (RTs), down 12% on budget and down 15% on the 2019 financial year. Container volumes were 116,162 twenty foot equivalent units, down 5% on budget and 3% on last year. CEO Hugh Morrison said, “We saw an outstanding response by exporters in Te Tauihu, who did a courageous job adjusting to the challenges of COVID-19 and kept exports flowing”.

The Port continues its commitment to be zero carbon by 2050, this target has been embedded in the Port’s revised Environment Policy. Other environmental initiatives include: the ongoing electrification of the Port’s small vehicle fleet, retained ISO 14001 certification for the Port’s environmental management system, purchased a new crane to improve efficiencies as well as improved results in noise reduction, and recycling of packing used in the transportation of wine.

Adapting to COVID-19 has dominated much of the Port’s year from a people and safety perspective. “As essential workers the Port was aware of the privilege of having steady work, while also carrying the risks of working at a Port receiving first call international vessels” says Hugh. The Port implemented and continues to have strict work practices in place to ensure the safety of the Port’s people and the Te Tauihu (Top of the South Island) community from exposure to COVID-19.

The Port continues its work on the resilience of the Port with its capital works programme addressing both natural disasters as well as economic resilience. These works include the re- development of Main Wharf North which is progressing well and is due for completion early 2021, a new tug, a replacement crane, and proposed dredging to help enable the safe passage of ships into the harbour.

After 20 years of service, Phil Lough stepped down as Board Chair. He is succeeded by Geoff Dangerfield. New board directors include Jon Safey and Paul Zealand.

More >>

Report highlights:
Revenue of $66.7 million
Operating profit of $20.9 million
Overall net profit after taxation of $8.2 million
Shareholder Equity as % of total assets is 70.2%
Total cargo volumes of 3.3 million tonnes
Container volumes of 116,162 TEU
Full declared dividend of $4 million

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Wilding pines under assault

Husqvarna Helping Slash The Wilding Pine Problem In Mackenzie - Wilding Pine is a huge problem in the Mackenzie region and owner of Aoraki Tree and Scrub Control, Geoff Webb is on a mission to help eliminate this species of pine.

Wilding Pine, also known as wilding conifers, are an invasive pine species that is rapidly spreading through New Zealand’s high country, threatening our ecosystems and iconic landscapes in its path.

Across New Zealand, wilding pine covers 1.8 million hectares of land and is growing at a rate of 5% year on year. As it grows, it colonises and out-competes for space with our native species. It doesn’t provide food for native birds and insects, and their needles create an acidic layer that discourages regeneration causing native animals to flee the forest areas.

Webb says wilding pine is invading 90,000 hectares each year throughout New Zealand and the key is to act fast, “Husqvarna has proven itself as the tool up to the challenge. It starts and runs every time, and the machines are running all day every day, five days a week” he says.

“We use Husqvarna clearing saws to attack the smaller young seedlings or trees where a saw is not required, enabling the area to be covered very quickly,” Geoff says.

“We also use Husqvarna saws to cut down the wilding pine from the base of the tree and then the stump is marked with a special chemical to ensure no regrowth happens.”

Geoff finds the Husqvarna outdoor power tools the easiest of all products to use and likes the comfort and ergonomics of the saws along with its high quality.

Husqvarna Regional Sales Manager Steve Middleton says they’re pleased to be supporting the local McKenzie region, “Husqvarna are always looking for ways to help improve the native environment. We are proud to be supporting Geoff in his efforts to help eliminate the wilding pines.” says Steve.

Geoff Webb says the backup service he gets from his local Dealer, Paul Dixon from Dixon Machinery is first class and is a contributing factor to why Geoff chose Husqvarna for the job.

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Clever app planned for tracking trees

New Zealand: World-first tree-planting app - TreeTime, a new tree planting non-profit enterprise, is developing an innovative app which will utilise new drone software to enable donors to track their tree’s journey from seed to maturity.

The app gives the assurance to users that each contribution is truly making a difference. Those who donate to sponsor a tree will be able to follow the growth of their individual tree over the course of 50-plus years through the app.

TreeTime is the passion project of Auckland lawyer Nick Muir, a millennial driven to empower people across the globe to contribute towards leaving a lasting, positive legacy on the planet and help prevent irreversible anthropogenic damage.

“Our vision is to make TreeTime the world's leading tree planting non-profit platform,” explains TreeTime co-founder and CEO Nick Muir, adding, “after working on this for more than 12 months, I’m excited to finally unveil this sustainable and engaging way for people to participate in planting robust forests on a large scale here in New Zealand.”

App development is well underway, and a crowdfunding campaign will be launched soon with funds be applied to the development of the drone software.

“We have exclusive access to unique geo-positioning software which will enable app users to follow the journey of their unique trees – TreeTime supporters will know exactly where their contribution is going and receive regular updates on the growth of tree,” says Nick.

When people purchase a tree via the TreeTime app, planting coordinates are assigned to each tree and users receive a unique ‘BarkCode’. The app then links to drone technology that surveys TreeTime’s forests and uploads video footage to the TreeTime database. Individual photos of the trees tracked via the BarkCodes are then automatically sent to that tree’s sponsor.

Every six months TreeTime photos will be shared with each app user so they can see their tree’s progress and rest easy knowing their tree is still alive and sequestering CO2. The app is being developed by Auckland-based digital studio transformative, and Qual IT, New Zealand information technology and quality assurance company, who have approached this project with a shared passion, and who have gone above and beyond to ensure the TreeTime platform reaches its full potential.

Nick, who plans to put his legal career on hold in order to focus solely on the smooth delivery of TreeTime’s vision, wishes to thank donors in advance for their support.

“We're all in this together and share the same future on this planet. We've designed the app so that anyone anywhere can do their part in protecting our earth,” says Nick, who has engaged his sister Celine Muir’s expertise in marketing and not-for-profits to assist at TreeTime.

Note: This story has been modified at the request of the developer to reflect its current status." Source: Scoop

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MPI update: Environmental standard guidance

The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 (NES-F) came into force on 3 September 2020.

The Ministry for the Environment has released guidance to explain the relationship between the NES-F, and the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry) Regulations 2017 (NES-PF).

Regulation 7 of the NES-F specifies that the NES-F regulations are subject to the NES-PF. The guidance explains that:

- Where the NESPF and the NES-F conflict or overlap, the relevant provisions of the NES-PF will prevail over those in the NES-F.
- “Prevail over” means the relevant performance standards, permissions, activity status, or conditions of the NES-PF apply, and those in the NES-F do not.
- For completeness, stringency and leniency (concepts covered in regulation 6 of both the NES-PF and NES-F) apply to the relationship between national environmental standards and plans or consents, but do not apply to the relationship between two national environmental standards.

The guidance, including examples of where the NES-PF prevails over NES-F for the same activity, can be accessed via the Te Uru Rākau website here.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... Spitting image does Jacinda spoof

For those that have yet to see the original spoof, check it out: Spitting Image & Jacinda Ardern

And if you're wanting an extra hit of comedy, The Spinoff has kindly explained the background behind many of the quips in this video especially for our international readers.

Spitting Image explains Spitting Image's NZ spoof...


And one more for your midweek chortle:

A young man who was also an avid golfer found himself with a few hours to spare one afternoon. He figured if he hurried and played very fast, he could get in nine holes before he had to head home.

Just as he was about to tee off an old gentleman shuffled onto the tee and asked if he could accompany the young man as he was golfing alone. Not being able to say no, he allowed the old gent to join him.

To his surprise the old man played fairly quickly. He didn’t hit the ball far, but plodded along consistently and didn’t waste much time. Finally, they reached the ninth fairway and the young man found himself with a tough shot.

There was a large pine tree right in front of his ball – and directly between his ball and the green. After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot the old man finally said: “You know, when I was your age I’d hit the ball right over that tree.”

With that challenge placed before him, the youngster swung hard, hit the ball up, right smack into the top of the tree trunk and it thudded back on the ground not a metre from where it had originally lay.

The old man offered one more comment: “Of course, when I was your age that pine tree was only a metre tall.”

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

John Stulen, Editor

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