WoodWeek – 9 December 2020

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Greetings from your festive WoodWeek team. Figuratively speaking, a quick look to our graphic summary of our (NZ) log exports for the year show the market has warmed considerably. You’ll recall it was a slow start, then came the Covid-crush; and on to a welcome lift in volumes since June. In fact, every month since then has seen volumes approaching those of 2018 each month and that was a bumper year. That said, Stats NZ reports it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride with lower forestry export prices, which fell 11 percent in the September 2020 quarter, following an 11 percent rise last quarter. Forestry products export volumes rose 27 percent in the quarter.

This week's SnapSTAT chart confirms statistics showing the volatility which creeps in and out of our market prices. Thanks to our sponsors of this feature for the year - the great team at Chainsaw & Outdoor Power (COP) and Oregon!

The Forest Growers levy rate is set to increase for the first time in seven years, going from 27 cents a tonne to 33 cents. It raises about $10 million annually. Part of the funding goes to support the Forest Industry Safety Council.

Looking to our next opportunity to bring everyone in forestry together, our FIEA HarvestTECH 2021 Conference (a two-day event) is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 13-14 April. As you all know – it’s BIG. Well, for 2021 its getting even bigger as it runs concurrently with our Forest Safety & Technology Conference (a one-day event). Registrations are open now. Exhibition stands for sponsors sold out ages ago. Get in soon as tickets will be selling fast come January!

This week, FOA showed its support for the urgent need for climate action. President Phil Taylor says, “Our key message is that forestry has a critical role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change. We urge Government to recognise the opportunities that forests can bring to this problem. “There is a lot of misinformation regarding the role of trees on farms and in the right places in the rural landscape. We urge everyone involved in rural land use to take the opportunity to enhance our environment by planting trees.”

The challenges and opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders will be covered in the FIEA Carbon Forestry 2021 Conference running on 15-16th June 2021 in Rotorua, New Zealand. The keynote speaker for this event will be announced shortly.

As we are near to the end of the year, I suspect we are all looking forward to 2021 already, hoping for a much better one with a new calendar. So much for 2020 vision – that turned out all wrong. On the bright side, summer has started to make its presence felt this week. Just as we were wondering where that heat wave from Sydney ended up, it’s 26 deg C here in Rotorua. While you are relaxing during the coming holiday break – spare a thought for us – and if you hear a good joke, pass it on thanks! Thanks for your support during this challenging year!

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Statistics: September quarter exports drop

Export performance in our key industries for the third quarter are a reminder of how Covid has affected our economy this year - In the September 2020 quarter Lower export prices for dairy, meat, and logs led to the biggest drop in terms of trade since June 2009, Stats NZ said last week.

Export prices fell in the September 2020 quarter, down 8.3 percent from its highest ever level in June 2020. This is the third largest fall in export prices since the series began. Import prices fell 3.7 percent, resulting in a terms of trade fall of 4.7 percent.

The terms of trade measures the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and is an indicator of the state of the overall economy. A fall in the terms of trade means the country can buy fewer imports for the same amount of exports.

“Export prices for dairy products fell 12 percent overall in the quarter,” business prices manager Bryan Downes said. “Dairy values have been the most affected with a 16 percent drop in the quarter compared with a 3.3 percent fall in dairy volumes exported," Mr Downes said. “Dairy is one of New Zealand’s top exports, along with travel services, both of which have seen falls in value this quarter.”

Also contributing to the fall in export prices were lower forestry products prices, which fell 11 percent in the September 2020 quarter, following an 11 percent rise last quarter. Forestry products export volumes rose 27 percent in the quarter.

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Source: StatsNZ

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HarvestTECH 2021 already drawing keen interest

If you’re involved in wood harvesting, you’ll remember well the major logging event, HarvestTECH 2019 that ran a couple of years ago. It ran in Rotorua, New Zealand and the event SOLD OUT well in advance of it actually running. It was by far the largest ever gathering of its type seen in New Zealand with close to 500 logging contractors, harvest planners, forestry managers and equipment and technology suppliers into the region’s logging industry attending.

Roll on two years. HarvestTECH 2021 is being planned with the two-day event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 13-14 April 2021. The conference programme is already full. Registrations are now live and exhibition spaces, as expected, sold out six months before the event runs.

It’s going to be another major turnout and after the major disruptions of 2020 (bush fires and a slow down through excess log inventories in Chinese ports at the beginning of the year, COVID-19 lock-downs and then a halt on log exports out of some Australian States into China towards the end of the year), it will be well overdue.

So, it’s going to be another huge turnout. All major key suppliers to local wood harvesting and log transport operations have put their hand up to be involved and include;

McFall Fuel, Cookes, Eagle Technology, BOA, Duxon Donaldson, Randalls Equipment, AGrow Quip/John Deere, Tracplus Global, WorkSafe NZ, Porter Equipment, SouthStar Equipment, Lubricants NZ, Komatsu Forest, West-Trak Equipment, Finance NZ, DC Equipment, Remsoft, FISC, TDDA, TerraCat , Braford Industries, Footwear & Apparel, EMS, Husqvarna, Rearsense Warning Systems, Trimble Forestry, Waratah, Toi Ohomai, Seeing Machines, C3, Hydraulink, Shaws and Chainsaw & Outdoor Power.

“A few extras have also been added to the event this year for those attending” says Brent Apthorp, FIEA Director. “Topics like mechanised harvesting on steeper slopes, integrating automation & robotics into wood harvesting operations and best practices around ensuring the environmental sustainability (roading, stream crossings and harvest residues management) of logging operations will be covered. With a raft of new technologies being developed and adopted by some leading companies, the 2021 event will also be outlining new log scaling and measurement technologies, log docketing options through the wood supply chain, wood flow logistics and log transport innovations.”

“As an added bonus, the very popular forestry safety event run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association, Forest Safety & Technology 2021, is also being held at the same venue on the first day, Tuesday 13 April” said Brent Apthorp. This is going to enable delegates from both events to network during the breaks and it’s also going to capitalise on the large number of trade exhibitions that will be set up over the two days for those attending”.

And finally, with the uncertainty still surrounding travel and border restrictions that may or may not exist in April 2021 because of COVID-19, for the first time, live links from the New Zealand event will be set up for those unable to travel into Rotorua. We had in 2019 a large contingent of forestry companies and contractors come into New Zealand from Australia and North America. This means the full two-day event can be viewed in real time or if delegates are going to be tied up in the forest during the two days, each recorded presentation will be able to be viewed later.

Like 2019, it’s anticipated that places at the venue again will go very quickly. Full details on the programme along with registration information can be found on the event website, www.harvesttech.events/ht21

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Levy rate set to increase for foresters

Forest Growers Levy Rate to increase for the first time in seven years - The directors of the Forest Growers Levy Trust have raised the rate on Harvested Wood Materials, for the first time since the levy was introduced by a forest grower referendum in 2013. The chair of the Levy Trust, Geoff Thompson, says clear support for the value of the investment, led to the decision to raise the levy from 27 cents a tonne to 33 cents.

“We had overwhelming support in our levy referendum at the beginning of last year, from small and large scale foresters, even more than when the levy was first voted on.”

The FGLT was set up under the Commodity Levies Act, where producers of a commodity can vote to impose a levy on production for common-good projects. The levy has raised about $10 million per year in recent years. Geoff Thompson says Covid-19 in China early in the year and the lockdown in New Zealand soon afterwards, was a severe hit on levy income and required a fresh look at how spending commitments could be met, and the prudence of replenishing reserves.

“Our main priority is research, to fund projects which increase forest productivity, whether in large forests or in farm woodlots. We fund major investments in harvesting technology, forest management and mechanisation. Another priority is the Forest Industry Safety Council and its projects to make forestry a safer place to work after the horror stories early in the decade. We still unfortunately aren’t at zero fatalities and serious injuries, which is the aim, but this year we’ve had the lowest fatality rate in six years,” Geoff Thompson says.

“Biosecurity is no less vital for us than for any other part of the primary sector. A biosecurity officer is now part of the FGLT Secretariat’s staff. Projects like these allow leveraging of other funding from the Government sector. Our biosecurity funding is an additional eye-out for all the pests and diseases which may arrive in New Zealand and harm native trees or the horticulture industry.”

“This is the first time the rate has been increased since the levy was brought in. In the following seven years inflation has chewed through its value, so half of the increase is just catching up to where we were before.”

Geoff Thompson says the decision followed close consultation with the Forest Owners Association and the Farm Forestry Association. “We also surveyed owners of forests when we did the referendum last year. The consensus was that we had set the levy rate too low, and it should be about 35 cents a tonne, so more work could be done with it.”

“The change will also meet new challenges in the industry, such as the political attacks on landowners’ right to prevent a land use choice of planting trees for harvest and carbon credits. But looking forward, we need to assist in the huge and vital area of research into new wood uses, such as resins which replace plastic, transparent timber sheets that can replace glass and biomass use for no-emission energy production. Trees are a huge part of the bio-economy future.”

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Forest owners recognise climate emergency declaration

“It is clear, with last week’s declaration by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, that the Government now recognises the importance of this issue for New Zealand and each of us, as New Zealand citizens,” says NZ Forest Owners President, Phil Taylor.
In doing so, it’s important for everyone to recognise the key role that trees, and forests play in mitigating climate change in the short term, while we unite to take action to deal with the carbon emissions at source, he added. “Unless New Zealand takes the opportunity to take action on both fronts, we will have trouble meeting our international obligations for emissions reduction.”

Taylor said the alternatives are neither desirable or palatable to either Government leaders or us, as citizens. New Zealand is not in a position to renege on or modify our emissions reduction targets. The only other option would be to purchase carbon credits on international markets using capital which can then not be invested within New Zealand, and nobody wants that possibility.

“Our key message for all New Zealanders is that forestry has a critical role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change. We urge the Ministers responsible for setting policy to also recognise the opportunities that forests can bring to this problem.”

“There is a lot of misinformation regarding the role of trees on farms and in the right places in the rural landscape. We urge everyone involved in rural land use to take the opportunity to enhance our environment by planting trees.”

The challenges and opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders will be covered in the FIEA Carbon Forestry 2021 Conference running on 15-16th June 2021 in Rotorua, New Zealand. The keynote speaker for this event will be announced shortly.

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SnapSTAT - sponsored by COP

Source: Figure.nz

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Australia follows Canada with logbooks

The rollout of approved Electronic Work Diaries in Australia will reduce red tape and improve safety for transport operators, ATA Chair David Smith said recently, after the NHVR launched the rollout of approved Electronic Work Diaries (EWD) for heavy vehicle drivers to manage their fatigue.

Step Global’s Smart eDriver and Teletrac Navman’s Sentinel systems have been listed by the NHVR as approved EWD solutions, following collaboration with the ATA and its members, technology providers, transport operators, and transport and police authorities.

“Today’s announcement is a big step forward for our industry. It will reduce paperwork for our drivers and the unbelievable amount of record keeping that companies need to do to stay compliant,” Mr Smith said. From December 1, transport operators will be able to voluntarily use the approved EWD systems as a regulatory alternative to a paper logbook, the National Driver Work Diary.

Step Global and Teletrac Navman are both members of the ATA’s Industry Technical Council. The ITC’s role is to enhance the trucking industry’s safety, professionalism and viability by providing technical input and best practice advice to the ATA.

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Rail wagon cradles revolutionise log trains

Leading shipping container supplier Royal Wolf and KiwiRail have jointly developed a bespoke logging container that significantly improves efficiencies and capacity when transporting logs to the Port of Tauranga for export. The 484 logging cradle cassette containers, built by Royal Wolf’s Intermodal Business Unit, were specially designed as a replacement for KiwiRail’s old log wagons which were designed to only carry logs.

The new 20-foot cassette containers can be loaded and secured onto different types of railway wagons to increase compatibility and capacity across KiwiRail’s network.

“We’re problem solvers,” says Michael Horne, Royal Wolf General Manager Intermodal. “We modify containers to meet a company’s specific logistics and transport needs. KiwiRail’s logging cassettes are a perfect example of us tailoring a container solution to help increase efficiencies and capability for a client.”

Royal Wolf worked closely with KiwiRail to develop a prototype container followed by the manufacture of a batch of containers and then the final product. Mr Horne says having the right container is essential to enable logistics companies to maximise loading and capacity for products as they transport freight around the country.

“There are a wide range of commodities and products transported in our containers but coming up with a solution for the safe transportation of logs required a very specific design. The cassette containers are functional but also highly innovative because they are able to be secured to a range of different wagons in the KiwiRail fleet.”

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Funding Boost for Generation Programme

Eastland Wood Council’s Generation Programme has received a huge boost from Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) who have topped up the coffers by $441,000 through its One Billion Trees Programme.

EWC chief executive Kim Holland says the funding has secured the future of the programme for the next two years. “It is fantastic to strengthen our relationship with Te Uru Rākau through this kind of support and to see them invest in forest industry training like this,” said Ms Holland.

“It means we can continue to develop the programme to ensure it meets industry needs. This recognises the success of our Generation Programme in providing skills and people to our industry work ready. The industry and contractors are snapping up our trainees – that says so much.”

At the heart of the programme is health and safety, ongoing training and plenty of mentoring to give candidates the best possible chance of success in the future.

“The forestry industry is a significant employer on the East Coast and there is an ongoing demand for skilled and trained forestry workers. To ensure there are trained people, ready to go and aware of the hazards of their work, sound training programmes, such as the Generation Programme, are required,” says Annie Hindle, Acting Director of Forest Development, Grants, and Partnerships, Te Uru Rākau.

“We are proud to support the Eastland Wood Council in their efforts to provide contractors with ‘work ready’ employees by investing in the training and upskilling of our forestry workforce.”

Ms Holland says COVID has meant a particularly tough year for so many, but Te Uru Rākau stepped in to support when it was needed.

“Our programme has had to adapt as things rolled out. We established online learning during COVID Alert Levels 3 and 4, and made sure our trainees were all safe when returning to the new normal.”

There are currently 14 contractors working with the Generation Programme, all of whom contract to EWC member companies.

“The success of this programme comes through our ability to continue to recruit, even in a very challenging year,” says Ms Holland who also tipped her hat to programme manager Siobhain Fyall.

The programme is now in its third year, and the current intake is its seventh.

“It is great we have the continuity of both the programme and the ability to retain the likes of Siobhain and continue to grow the forestry industry relationship with Tūranga Ararau whose pastoral care involvement had been crucial to success for a number of candidates.

There has been an impressive list of achievements this year, with several gaining level 3 qualifications as well as head breaker out tickets, licences, first aid certificates and wheel, tracks and rollers completions.

“We have interest in the programme from far and wide, with trainees moving to Gisborne to train with us and then work in local forestry,” says Ms Holland.

“We have been blown away by the number of women who are stepping up to take part in the programme. It is great to see and it is making such a difference to people’s lives.”

Over the three years, there have been over 60 trainees, with 33 trainees – men and women – continuously employed in forestry, with 14 more moving into other industries.

“Candidates see there is massive opportunity within the industry to not only earn good money but also for the career opportunities – the world really is your oyster.”

Next year the programme will accept rolling enrolments, allowing people to tap into the training as they are looking for work. “It also means we can place trainees into employment on a rolling basis so the contractors don’t have to wait for the end of a cohort.”

The practice has already been successfully trialled with trainees who entered the programme with experience but needing to gain tickets.

The newly-formed Central North Island Wood Council is in the throes of establishing its own Generation Programme in Tokoroa where they will follow the Tairāwhiti blue-print but tailor it to meet the requirements of the industry in their region.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved here and we are all looking forward to 2021,” said Ms Holland.

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Canada: Natural gas from wood waste

Thermo Design Engineering Ltd. has partnered up with REN Energy International Corp (REN Energy) to create a first of its kind Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) plant in the British Columbia (BC) Kootenay region, Canada. The REN Energy team has been working for the past several years on a method that creates Renewable Natural Gas from wood waste.

Source: Lesprom

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Live log exports – I mean, Christmas trees

SMART trees will be ‘a game changer’ for Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree industry - So, here in New Zealand and Australia we think we are pretty clever, growing trees for 20+ years, ripping a few sawcuts in them and loading them onto the ship for Asia. Meanwhile those clever Scots who immigrated to eastern Canada are now exporting “live” trees for serious money! Check it out: Field trials are underway for naturally made in Nova Scotia balsam fir Christmas trees that are SMART (senescence modulated abscission regulating technology). “It’s a game-changer for us,” said Andrew Crouse, president of the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers’ Association. “We’ve had interest from other provinces here in Canada; there’s going to be a lot of interest in these trees when they start getting out in numbers.”

SMART trees were developed at the Atlantic Christmas Tree Research Centre in Truro and are healthier, longer-lasting trees that have been naturally selected to hold their needles for up to three months, making them more attractive to international markets. Crouse said the project was started about 10 years ago. The problem, said Crouse, is that although balsam firs have a lovely aroma, they tend to shed their needles.

“The Americans have developed the Fraser fir, a breed of tree that grows in New England that doesn’t lose its needles but has no aroma. It’s like a pine tree. You can beat it and it never gives up its needles. We need a tree that is comparable.”

Working with “the best balsam fir trees that nature had to offer,” the trees were cloned and are now on trial in the ground, said Crouse. “The technology to clone these trees has thrown us a few curveballs,” he said. “The balsam fir is not giving up its secrets like the spruce tree would. It’s a little bit ornery. The true test will be when you take a branch off and let it dry out and shake it.”

The Department of Agriculture provided funding to support the development of the SMART tree through the province’s Building Tomorrow Fund. Nova Scotia Minister of Agriculture Keith Colwell says, “I think it’s going to be a huge game-changer,” he said. “These trees will grow in rural areas and will create jobs. I think there is a great future for the Christmas tree and greens industry in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.”

In the 2016 Census of Agriculture, there were 319 farms in Nova Scotia reporting Christmas trees grown for sale with 6,179 hectares of land in Christmas tree production.

“There’s a lot of work to it,” said Crouse, who has been growing Christmas trees since he was 11. “It can be cold and wet. You got about four weeks to make on what you’ve grown that year that’s ready for sale. Four years ago, you couldn’t sell a two-foot tree. Today that’s rocket gold. If you grow tabletop trees and are good at it you can make some serious money at it.”

“The greens industry is quite big as well, very profitable,” said Crouse. According to the latest data in 2019, Nova Scotia Christmas tree exports to international markets were worth $9,476,878; in 2018, $6,701,304; and 2017, $7,071,894. The United States is by far the largest market, said Colwell.

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Vehicle sales for year to end of November

Toyota regained the market leader position for passenger and SUV registrations with 18% market share (1,452 units) followed by Mitsubishi with 12% (927 units) and then Kia with 9% market share (735 units). The top selling passenger and SUV models for the month were the Toyota RAV4 (511 units) followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander (394 units) and the Mitsubishi ASX (369 units).

Commercial vehicle sales – Ford regained the market lead with 28% market share (1,094 units) followed by Toyota with 22% (859 units) and Mitsubishi third with 9% market share (336 units). The Ford Ranger regained the top spot for the month of November as the bestselling commercial model with 26% share (1,006 units) followed by the Toyota Hilux with 17% share (636 units) and the Mitsubishi Triton in third place with 8% market share (300 units).

Smaller vehicles dominated the market in November – The top spot went to the SUV medium vehicles with 20% share followed by SUV Compact also with 20% market share and then the pickup/chassis 4x4 segment with 14% share.

Shift happens: For the first Toyota New Zealand is selling more hybrid cars and SUVs than conventionally powered petrol and diesel cars. Hybrids so far this year account for almost 60 percent of sales across both the Toyota and the Lexus fleet, NZ chief executive Neeraj Lala told BusinessDesk last week. That is up from 27 percent last year and just 8 percent in 2017.

Lala said the increasing availability of hybrid options across the firm’s range is a factor. But he said consumers are also increasingly willing to pay a small premium – typically $1,500 to $2,500 – for the lower-emission option.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... your midweek laugh...

Quote of the week: "Typical, you wait ages for a vaccine and then three come along at once."


An elderly man in Adelaide calls his son in Sydney and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams.
"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Brisbane and tell her," and he hangs up.

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."

She calls her dad immediately, and screams at the old man, "You are NOT getting divorced! Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares."


The wise old Mother Superior from county Tipperary was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her comfortable. They gave her warm milk to drink, but she refused it. One nun took the glass back to the kitchen.

Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey the nuns had received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened and poured a generous amount into the warm milk.

The nun took the glass back to Mother Superior's bedside, and held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more. Before they knew it, she had downed the whole glass, down to the last drop. "Mother," the nuns asked earnestly, "please give us some wisdom before you die."

Mother Superior slowly raised her head, and with a pious look on her face whispered, "Don't sell that cow."

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

John Stulen, Editor

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