WoodWeek – 24 November 2021

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You don't need to look long at daily news headlines to see how the mainstream media is more than happy these days to report on your average Joe or Jane complaining about how the Government is overstepping the boundaries by telling us how to act. Conversely, this week, our very own forestry leaders’ group is applauding recent administrative action recommending we diversify our wood markets and reduce our historic reliance on using only bucking saws to add value to our vast wood fibre resources.

The Forest Owners Association (FOA) says the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has laid down a blueprint for the New Zealand forest and wood products industry, with the release of a report enititled ‘Forest Products in the Global Economy’, as part of the COP26 meeting and events in Glasgow. The UN FAO Report cites a New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) report, issued in 2017, ‘Primary Sector Science Roadmap’ which identified desired potential developments, in particular “new forest ecosystem services such as biorefinery forests, the use of short-rotation trees for biomass and bioenergy products.”

David Rhodes says MPI has updated and begun to act on the 2017 report with a ‘Forest Industry Transformation Plan’, designed to lessen New Zealand’s dependence on log exports, increase timber production in New Zealand and develop new sustainable technologies to utilise large volumes of wood which otherwise may be left in the forest after harvest.

Rhodes says, “We are already seeing a move in New Zealand towards using wood fuel to replace coal in school and dairy factory boilers, but the transformation is going to be huge from now on.”

On that note our team is finding strong interest in two upcoming conferences which look more deeply into who’s leading the way on transforming residues to revenues and where our environmental harvesting solutions are coming to the fore to improve post-harvest forest and land outcomes.

For more information on our FIEA Residues to Revenues 2022 Conference running on 9-10 March 2022, full details can be found on the event website.

Then in May we bring a new conference forest management and harvesting conference to you, Environmental Forestry 2022. More details on the programme will be released in coming weeks.

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Forest owners recommend UN report as blueprint

Forest Owners Says Lessons For New Zealand In UN Wood-Based Products Report - The Forest Owners Association says the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has laid down a blueprint for the New Zealand forest and wood industry, with the release of ‘Forest Products in the Global Economy’, as part of the COP26 meeting and events in Glasgow.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chief Executive, and former Chair of the UN Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest Industries, David Rhodes, says while trees are best known here for their ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, the future of forest products, as a replacement for petrochemical sourced materials, is equally important.

“This just released FAO Report details what can be done with both timber itself, and what can be achieved as well using wood materials.”

“Much of it is already well proven technology. What has been lacking is the realisation of the dreadful consequences on the environment if we continue to use vast volumes of fossil fuels, steel, concrete and plastics.”

“The FAO identifies what it calls resistance by vested interests in making way for a sustainable bioeconomy, and it says the inertia these interests create “should be actively addressed and tackled.”

The UN FAO Report cites a New Zealand MPI report, issued in 2017, ‘Primary Sector Science Roadmap’ which identified desired potential developments, in particular “new forest ecosystem services such as biorefinery forests, the use of short-rotation trees for biomass and bioenergy products.”

David Rhodes says MPI has updated and begun to act on the 2017 report with a ‘Forest Industry Transformation Plan’, designed to lessen New Zealand’s dependence on log exports, increase timber production in New Zealand and develop new sustainable technologies to utilise large volumes of wood which otherwise may be left in the forest after harvest.

“We are already seeing a move in New Zealand towards using wood fuel to replace coal in school and dairy factory boilers, but the transformation is going to be huge from now on.”

“The FAO cites all sorts of developments, such as using wood fibre to replace viscose and polyester, through ventures such as the Swedish based Tree to Textile AB.”

“Put together, wood derived materials and products will constitute what the FAO Report calls a necessary ‘rethink of the global economic system.”

See the FAO Report here

See the Tree to Textile AB site here

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Loggers expecting lean Christmas

A dramatic drop in global log prices will hurt East Coast loggers - meaning some crews are facing a lean Christmas until prices lift again and production resumes in 2022.

Eastland Wood Council (EWC) chief executive Philip Hope said global economic factors could have major repercussions for the forestry industry while a prominent contractor said the industry was facing “a very bleak year-end. Right now, the forestry industry is dealing with the impacts of a log export crisis that has seen prices plummet,” Mr Hope said.

“The cost of shipping wood to China has almost trebled since January — the result of Covid, increased fuel prices and so on. The slowdown in the China economy extends to the construction industry.

As we speak, 10 percent of the global shipping fleet is sitting in the water off China waiting to discharge and incurring demurrage costs daily,” Mr Hope said.

“Many ports have been shut down due to Covid and the holiday season has added further to delays. These factors have resulted in significant increases to inventory costs and a drop in demand for wood.” Mr Hope said pundits expected the market to recover in the first quarter of 2022. “However, this is little comfort to the forestry industry, which includes everyone in the supply chain. Everyone is facing a very tough time.”

EWC has been in regular contact with member forestry companies and reached out to many contractors and industry stakeholders across Tairāwhiti to help them understand the challenges they face so EWC can help with solutions. “While member forestry companies are doing all they can to retain contractors, at the present time it is uneconomic to harvest, especially the smaller woodlots”.

“We are aware some contractors have received notice to finish harvesting operations, others have been placed on reduced harvest volumes and others have been given notice of an extended break over Christmas.”

More >>

Source: gisborneherald

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Volvo trialling tele-operation forestry machines

Volvo Construction Equipment says it is the first company in the world to trial a remote-controlled high-lift wheel loader over a 5G network in a complex forestry application – in a bid to develop safer, more productive timber processes and explore its potential as an enabler for automation.

Their Remote Timber research project is a collaboration between Volvo CE and telecoms operator Telia, alongside timber and paper manufacturer SCA, Mid University Sweden, Skogforsk and Biometria. The tests at SCA’s timber terminal in Torsboda, Sweden, have demonstrated that it is possible to tele-operate a Volvo L180 high-lift wheel loader, from hundreds of kilometers away, says Volvo. The low latency of the 5G network allowed operators to perform the sensitive process of picking, loading and organising logs remotely.

Tele-operated forestry is expected to deliver improved productivity by allowing one operator to work across multiple – and sometimes isolated – sites around the world. It is also expected to make it both safer, by removing humans from potentially hazardous environments, and more sustainable, through more efficient logistics flows as the loading and unloading of timber can also be done during the night.

Christian Spjutare, advanced engineering program manager at Volvo CE, remarked, “We expect tele-operation to open up far greater opportunities for operators than is currently available. Sometimes it can be difficult to hire people in timber terminals because of their remote locations. But tele-operation allows people to work from any location, no matter the distance, making it a more desirable work setting, with the added advantage of more efficient and sustainable work logistics.”

An important aim of the research project is to explore exactly what is required from an operator perspective in making tele-operation a user-friendly and efficient experience. Because each load of timber can be so varied – from an unwieldly pile of heavy logs through to just a few short pieces of wood – it is vital that the lifting process is carried out with pinpoint accuracy and incredibly precise handling.

As a result, the handler utilizes several connected cameras and sensors located at strategic points around the machine that transmit real-time data via the Telia 5G network back to the control station. The intent of the testing is to both explore how to mature the technology and gather vital feedback from the operators on the optimum placement of those cameras for handling precision.

More >>

Source: Volvo

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Demand for energy-rich forest fuels growing

The use of forest-sourced biomass to replace fossil fuels is now gaining momentum across the forestry sector says the Bioenergy Association (BANZ) - Executive officer Brian Cox says “The opportunities for revenue from wood residues as a fuel for stationary heat, for producing renewable gases, and as a feedstock for transport biofuels has finally woken up suppliers in the forestry sector. There is an increasing and growing awareness of the opportunities for additional revenue from residuals and biomass that otherwise would be wasted or sold for a low financial return”.

“Recent enquiries from manufacturers for supply of biomass fuel have resulted in a number of new forestry sources coming forward. While many of these potential biomass suppliers have not previously been solid biofuel suppliers, new demand for biomass has them interested now,” says Brian Cox.

In some regions the total demand for biomass for stationary heat would be around 14% of their total plantation forest production so this new market is manageable and is also within the 15-20% of their production that is currently wasted. These volumes are easily achievable and can be additional to their existing business.”

“Some farmers are realising they can use up to 9% of their land for growing biomass. These are the slopes of gullies, shelter belts, riparian strips, and erosion control which can produce biomass that is suitable for processing into being a solid biofuel”. Biomass is available throughout the country so investment in distributed transport biofuel production facilities will occur near the sources of biomass. Some investors are also considering planting their own future sources of biomass.

With the expanding focus on future sources of biomass additional to existing land uses, plus new plantings with a view to future domestic uses, there is no doubt that there will be an on-going balance between demand and supply of biomass. “However, to ensure that having the right biomass in the right place, at the right time, will require good information from those who want biomass, to those who can supply biomass, right out to 2050. Communication between potential buyers and potential suppliers will be very important.”

The location and organised aggregation of woody bio fuels to meet the growing demand for industrial process heat users is a focus for the Residues to Revenues 2022 event that will be running for bio- fuel producers on 9-10 March 2022. Full details on the programme can be found on the event website.

Source: BANZ

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New fuel cell truck arrives and goes straight to work

Late last week the Hyundai NZ team welcomed the nation’s first hydrogen-powered truck, the XCIENT FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) at the Port of Auckland.

As the new vehicle arrived completely road-ready, and with a reliable hydrogen supply on tap through Ports of Auckland, it was able to be driven to our Mt Wellington headquarters immediately.

This is the first of five trucks we can expect to see on the nation’s roads next year running freight across the country in a real world demonstration within commercial fleets. New Zealand is just the second market outside Korea to commence a multiple truck program. XCIENT fuel cell trucks already operate commercially in Switzerland, where the fleet has clocked up over 2 million kilometres of service.

The XCIENT Fuel Cell truck has a manufacturer gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 28 tonnes and a combined gross combination weight of 42 tonnes. It will operate lower than this here due to our New Zealand road weight limitations, however it illustrates the genuine heavy duty nature of this truck.

Hyundai NZ has secured the trucks from Hyundai Motor Company, with the help of funding from EECA, to put them into a working demonstration program. The aim is to speed up adoption by helping industry, government and the public grow in confidence to use hydrogen powered trucks.

The trucks will be introduced into an on-road (in-service) demonstration program with specialists in heavy vehicle transport and road transport logistics. Those partners are still to be confirmed. They will be fuelled by our own hydrogen supplier until the first group of hydrogen stations are available. These are well underway already.

The XCIENT is powered by a 350kw electric motor with 2237Nm of torque. Driving energy is provided by a 180kW hydrogen fuel cell system with dual 90kW fuel cell stacks combined with a 72kWh battery. Seven tanks make a combined storage capacity of about 32.09kg of hydrogen. The range is about 400km – the driving distance between Auckland and Palmerston North.

The arrival of these new truck is an exciting milestone - New Zealand is now at the forefront of international efforts to shift heavy vehicle transport to zero emission formats. Each XCIENT Fuel Cell vehicle on our road in place of a diesel truck will save 50 tonnes of C02 per year from being emitted into our environment, based on 80,000kms per annum.

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Pentarch Group appointment

New Laboratory Manager at Pentarch Technical Services (PTS) - Australasian forest products company Pentarch Forest Products has announced the appointment of Alex Bruce as the new manager of Pentarch Technical Services (PTS) laboratory based in Kawerau, New Zealand.

PTS provides a range of wood testing services for clients such as Oji Fibre Solutions as well as more than 30 sawmills and forestry companies in New Zealand. Testing is carried out on woodchips, biomass and solid wood. Analysis of dry matter content is also undertaken on agricultural feedstock for a range of clients. The PTS laboratory has operated for more than 25 years, providing services 365 days a year.

Mr Bruce brings to the role an extensive background in laboratory analysis with specialist knowledge of wood and industrial adhesives and their application, most recently with Hexion in Tauranga. He joins PTS as the laboratory further develops its capabilities in testing biomass for energy production. Independent testing of glue laminated products bond quality is a service that PTS is also considering offering.

Mr Bruce said, “I am excited to have joined PTS as it expands its testing capabilities. The conversion of biomass to energy is a growing sector and PTS is well placed to service this market. We are able to test for dry matter content, basic density, bulk density, ash, classification of particle size and calorific value. We are also looking at leveraging Pentarch Australia laboratory knowledge in further testing agricultural and horticultural products for local use and export”.

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Nelson City Council carbon credit scheme debate

The Nelson City Council is being advised against signing up to a carbon credit forestry scheme, but an industry veteran says there is much to gain and little to lose.

A report on the potential benefit of registering indigenous forests for carbon credits was brought before the council on Wednesday. No decision was made on the report, as the meeting was adjourned early before it could be discussed.

However, during the public forum of the meeting, Carbon Farm director Dr Murray McClintock spoke in support of developing council forestry for carbon credits. The possibility of utilising indigenous forests to earn carbon credits was raised in council’s 2020/2021 Annual Plan, with an analysis of the situation commissioned from Carbon Forest Services in April.

Under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), indigenous forests that had not been forested before 1989, and not forested at least four years prior to establishment, could qualify for registration and earn carbon credits.

While two areas were identified as having potential for ETS credits in the report, the financial returns were expected to be minimal compared to the cost of assessment. These included about 2220 hectares of grassland and scrubland in the Dun Mountain "mineral belt” that could be established in forest, and 27 ha of existing indigenous forest.

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'Jobs for Nature' teams removing wilding pines for good

More than 34,000 wilding pines have been removed from Black Jack Reserve in Kuaotunu.

This control work is one of nine wilding pines community-led projects in the Waikato to receive funding from the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme.

Kristina Pickford, a trustee of Kuaotunu Peninsula Trust, says the number of wilding pines removed from the 83-hectare site is testament to the threat they pose to the environment.

Kuaotunu Peninsula Trust successfully applied for Community Partnership Project funding of $375,000 from the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme for the project which is being administratively and operationally led by Waikato Regional Council. The funding is for work not just in the Black Jack Reserve but also for wilding pine control at Matarangi Bluff Reserve and tracts of land between WhauWhau Beach and Opito Bay.

“I see pines as a massive threat to biodiversity,” says Kristina. “They are everywhere you go, covering New Zealand. The Coromandel is blessed with quite a lot of native bush, but take some time to look at the land, what is disturbing is the sheer scale of wilding pine infestations.

Wilding pines are a fast-spreading pest plant that, if left unchecked, will take over more than a quarter of New Zealand within 30 years.

Kristina and her husband purchased land in Otama about five years ago, having moved from Christchurch, so she’s aware of the wilding pine problem in the South Island and was determined to address the problem within the Kuaotunu Peninsula.

“I could see that good work had been done in the area and learned that a couple of landowners had been personally funding wilding pine control in Black Jack Reserve since 2010. We got together and formed a charitable trust that has a range of environmental objectives, including the control of wilding pines.”

For this project, the trust worked with Rings Beach Wetland Group, Opito Bay Ratepayers Association and Project Kiwi Trust.

“There’s a lot of important, established and regenerating coastal forest that we are trying to keep the pines out of.”

Wilding pines are a threat to biodiversity and the primary sector because they can take over iconic landscapes, unique natural habitats and productive land.

“They’re also a fire risk,” says Kristina. “The Port Hill fires, just outside of Christchurch, demonstrated this all too clearly. Each pine tree is like a bomb the amount of fuel and energy they have. We need to keep them out.”

The majority of large wildings in Black Jack Reserve had already been felled and the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme funding largely addressed the regrowth which presented a threat to the gains made.

A young local crew hand-pulled and hand sawed tens of thousands of young wilding pines at Black Jack Reserve, and are now working at Matarangi Bluff Reserve.

Larger pines are being felled or poisoned from a helicopter, by specialist contractors, depending on what can be safely achieved.

Contractor Travis Boyd says it’s been a great opportunity for his crew. They’ve acquired various new skills and qualifications – for example, certification for GrowSafe, chainsaw use and tree-felling – which will open employment opportunities for them in the future.

“It’s been quite impressive to watch. They’ve been crashing through the bush, pulling out and cutting the smaller pines. They’ve built confidence and muscle; they’re a lot fitter than when we started.

“It is tough terrain and really hard work, but they’ve thrived – I am proud of them.”

The Government in 2020 allocated funding of $100 million over four years to expand the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme. This funding is managed by Biosecurity New Zealand, which is a business management unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

To date, around $1.3m has gone towards nine community projects in Coromandel and Taupō.

To find out more about the community projects click here>>

Photo: Aerial shot: Wilding pine control work at Alum Lakes.

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1BT funds planting to celebrate local heroes

Communities across New Zealand are doing their part to increase native tree planting while celebrating and honouring their local community heroes, with more than half a million trees planted across the country.

The One Billion Trees-funded Matariki Tu Rākau programme, which is administered by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, has to date funded 660,000 native trees planted as living memorials at over 300 events nationwide.

The programme is now accepting applications for memorial plantings in 2022. Senior Advisor, Matariki Tu Rākau, Belinda Miller says the programme is a great way for marae, schools, and other organisations to honour special people in their communities who have shown exemplary community service or have brought distinction through their work, while planting trees in their memory.

“Not only is tree planting a great way to commemorate and remember those who were important to us and our communities, it is also a great way to enhance the environment and native biodiversity by restoring and rebuilding our natural habitat and protecting our land, soils, and waterways.”

Matariki Tu Rākau grants provide funding for native trees and rongoā species, clearance of planting areas, a plaque, and kai for the planting event. It can also contribute to tree maintenance.

"The Matariki Tu Rākau team can help you plan where to plant your memorial, what trees to plant, how to prepare and maintain your planting and how to get the local community involved," says Belinda Miller.

Recent examples of plantings supported by Matariki Tu Rākau include:
> Planting 2,000 trees and rongoā species at Waiohiki Marae, Napier to commemorate Tāreha Te Moananui, the first person to enter parliament with a full facial tā moko.
> Planting 370 native trees with Mohiki Trust, Central Otago to commemorate all researchers who have contributed to the knowledge of Central Otago's endemic flora and fauna.
> Planting 125 native trees in Wellington with Makara Pony Club to commemorate Jack O'Leary for his voluntary service to the Club.
For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Matariki Tu Rākau webpage, contact us at matarikiturakau@mpi.gov.nz, or call 0800 00 83 33.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... kids are worth it (they're SO funny!)

New words invented by kids:

1. Ice cubes are called water bricks in our house.

2. My 4-year-old calls my small guitar a ukulady.

3. My daughter says "cheese" instead of "geez" and I swear I'm never correcting her because it's the absolute cutest thing. "I just want to wear my PJs all day, cheese mum."

4. Call her over-dramatic, but my daughter calls tears "wet drops of sadness".

5. Kid just referred to a fly as an "air-spider," and now I'm thinking we should probably allow toddlers to name more things.

6. My 4-year-old loves baboons. He had a red baboon and a green baboon and enjoyed kicking them around the house. His green baboon popped and he cried so much I had to promise to get him a new baboon. One day someone will tell him to say "balloons" and not baboons but it won't be me.

7. Instead of "the weekend," my 4-year-old calls Saturday and Sunday "iPad days," if you're wondering how my parenting is going.

Source: Sideswipe, NZ Herald

That's all for this week's wood news.

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John Stulen
Innovatek Limited
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Rotorua, New Zealand
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