WoodWeek – 20 April 2022

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Greetings from your good wood news team. Our lead story today exemplifies the speed of innovation – this time in carbon forestry. The other big news today: We are pleased to announce the launch of our programme and opening of delegate registrations for our 2022 Carbon Forestry 2022 Conference to be held in Rotorua on 9-10 August. See more details and online links in today's update below. To say that the market was hot for carbon over the past year is an understatement. This time around we have three key areas for discussion:
1) The potential for policy changes to change the investment prospects;
2) The changes in carbon market prices and how that may change; and
3) What options investors have now that the banking sector is engaging in carbon forestry.

Check out our packed conference programme now. Last year this event sold out so we suggest you register early to ensure your team are there to listen, learn from our investor-packed programme and network with everyone in carbon forestry again. We look forward to seeing you in person again.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the election campaign has delivered for the forest industry. Forestry Australia is welcoming a forest funding commitment of $219 million forestry funding commitment by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Forestry Australia CEO Jacquie Martin said the announcement recognised the need for sustainable forestry in Australian society. She added that forests are one of Australia’s greatest natural assets, and Australia has a long history of first-class forestry skills, experience and people needed to care for our forests.

We have more news on additional content for our upcoming Wood Residues 2022 Conference to be held in Rotorua, in late July. Two leaders in biomass or wood residues extraction and handling, SHL Forest & Wood Fibre Solutions and Canterbury Woodchip Supplies, will be running a workshop with practical lessons from their own in-field chipping operations in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Full details on the programme along with registration details can be found on the event website.

Finally today, if you were at all connected with the Forest Research Institute over the past 30 years you’ll remember the FRESTRA (Forest Research & Training) club and bar. After a long and colourful history involving a diverse membership it is all set to be wound up for good. To make a long story short, to mark the end of an era, the final wind-up is happening at the Rotorua East Bowling Club on Saturday 30 April from 4 pm. The form will be informal, with drinks and a meal, with numbers probably limited to 200 people. If you are an ex-member, visitor or associate and want to participate, see contact details in today’s issue.

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CarbonCrop: New CEO and capital raise for AI startup

Following a $1.5M seed capital raise in 2020, led by WNT Ventures, Carbon Crop recently raised an additional $1.9m ahead of plans to raise Series A funding later this year. The funding round was again led by WNT Ventures Fund 3, and supported by the Impact Enterprise Fund, K1W1 and Icehouse Ventures Climate Fund.

"Over the last year CarbonCrop has demonstrated market demand for a high quality, remote forest carbon assessment solution and succeeded in delivering this at scale. Along with our mission to support innovative technology in NZ, knowing that the team is already on track to direct tens of millions of dollars to landholders restoring native forest is huge. We’re excited to continue the journey with them as they expand internationally," said Carl Jones of WNT Ventures.

New Zealand AI startup CarbonCrop is on a mission to make carbon credits accessible to landholders across Aotearoa and globally, delivering free eligibility assessments underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled technology.

Launched in June 2021, CarbonCrop has grown rapidly and assessed over 400,000 hectares of land across New Zealand. It’s on track to deliver more than $15 million in carbon credits to landholders in 2023 alone.

CarbonCrop provides high integrity carbon credit assessments using remote sensing and machine learning to analyse forests without the need for expensive site visits or time-consuming manual mapping. Once a customer signs up, its technology helps to date the forest accurately and compile evidence required to register land to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This remote approach differentiates CarbonCrop from other forestry providers in New Zealand and lends itself to scaling internationally.

CarbonCrop’s model removes cost barriers to engagement, making carbon credits accessible to a wider range of landholders; instead of charging upfront fees for its services, CarbonCrop receives an ongoing percentage of the carbon credits earned. Since June 2021, over one thousand Kiwis have submitted land for an initial assessment via CarbonCrop. Sites range from small lifestyle blocks with just a few hectares to hill stations with five thousand-plus hectares.

CarbonCrop also welcomes Jo Blundell (pictured) as CEO to drive its ambitious growth strategy with current CEO and co-founder Nick Butcher stepping into the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Jo brings with her a wealth of experience scaling technology businesses including as Chief Revenue Officer at the recently acquired SaaS software provider, Timely.

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Source: CarbonCrop
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Carbon Forestry: Conference programme released

We are pleased to announce the launch of our 4th Carbon Forestry Conference, running in-person on 9-10 August at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. We have put together a comprehensive programme featuring a range of practical and knowledgeable industry leaders.

With presentations from international investment perspectives to how carbon markets and ETS interact with carbon farming investments, this conference spans a range of important and dynamic aspects. There are a lots of factors in play with the potential to change the prospects of carbon farming landscape. They could have significant effects for both forestry and international investment within New Zealand in the longer term.

We are bringing together industry leaders as key speakers from the carbon farming investment industry alongside those delivering Government policy and advice from the Climate Change Commission. Adding in the importance of market impacts on how carbon farming and markets develop, we have also brought together carbon market commentators and analysts to explain how these factors interact.

Finally, the future of carbon farming relies on the attitudes and actions of landowners including farmers. Their influencers and perceptions, impacted by the current He Waka Eke Noa process and those around them with farm forestry experience, makes for a complex setting for how these markets will develop.

We expect this year’s conference to sell out as it did last year. Be sure to get your registrations confirmed soon, as we expect this to happen again well before August.

Click here for programme and registration details

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Hawke's Bay regeneration exemplar project

In Hawke's Bay a ground-breaking project in setting an example of re-vegetate the area with indigenous forest.
About 110 hectares of rugged terrain have been cleared of wilding pines as part of New Zealand’s largest ‘pine to natives’ forest conversion project adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest. The work was funded from a $15,000 grant from the Pan Pac Environmental Trust and saw the clearance of between 1,500 and 2,000 wilding pines, the natural offspring of plantation trees.

The forest conversion initiative by Hawke’s Bay-based Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT) is converting the former Maungataniwha Pine Forest into 4,000 hectares of regenerating native forest. The latest assault on wilding pines means that more than a third of the area, about 1,500 hectares, can now be described as clear of the exotic tree and regenerating with native species.

The land was cleared over a 15-day period by Hastings-based firm Coast and Country Pest Control, a company run by former arborists Todd Lowrie and Logan Lecomte. The forest conversion site, a former commercial pine forest, lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120- hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawke’s Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest.

Eighty years ago, the land was covered in mature native forest full of mistletoe, kiwi, kokako and kaka. The mature podocarps were logged and in the 1980s some 4,000 hectares were clear- felled and burnt for the planting of pine trees.

FLRT was established in 2006 to provide direction and funding for the restoration of threatened species of native fauna and flora in forests within the Central North Island. In 2018, it took control of the fully harvested block from Matariki Forests, which had held the licence to log the pine.

The aim is to re-vegetate the area with indigenous forest. There are sufficient native species seed in the soil to enable natural regeneration but the major challenge, and cost, is the elimination of regenerating pine seedlings which crowd out the slower growing native forest species.

It takes a decade to clear logged land of wilding pines completely and to get it to the point where it can be described as fully regenerated. During this time the land is nurtured, treated and monitored by the FLRT to ensure that the species they expect to appear do so. The conversion is the FLRT’s biggest and most expensive single undertaking. It uses a mix of aerial spraying and manual clearance methods to keep the wilding pines at bay.

FLRT Chairman Simon Hall said the trust was “beyond grateful” to the Pan Pac Environmental Trust for the cash injection, which would go some way to helping to meet the costs of the project. The work had been funded equally by FLRT and the Department of Conservation between 2015 and 2018, but since then FLRT had been carrying the financial burden of about NZ$70,000 a year on its own.

Photo: Regenerating native plants on land that was previously under pine at Maungataniwha
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Ways to make wood residues deliver more revenue

Recently, sieving of chipped forest fuels has recently been suggested as a way to reduce dry matter losses during storage. Sieving provides a more homogeneous acceptable material with better storage properties, which reduces the risk of energy and dry matter losses and spontaneous ignition.

Screened chips can be priced higher due to better quality, and both acceptable and reject fractions are more homogeneous, which improves combustion control. Sieving is costly and the reject fraction is not suitable for storage. Five sieving operations were studied, three involving vibrating screens and two involving star-screens.

On average, star-screens were more productive than vibrating screens. In all operations, the sieving machine limited productivity, and the loader feeding the machine was not fully utilized. Sieving costs were under two euro per MWh of chips, which may be recovered through higher values and lower storage losses in the acceptable fraction.

If sieving operations were used to increase storage of chips, it could increase the annual utilization of chippers and chip trucks in the supply chain, thereby reducing supply costs. Profitable sieving operations require demand for the fine fraction at a price close to that of residue chips.

For more information on this research, click here

And as part of the eagerly awaited Wood Residues 2022 event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 26-27 July 2022, two leading companies in biomass or wood residues extraction and handling, SHL Forest & Wood Fibre Solutions and Canterbury Woodchip Supplies will be complimenting the earlier workshop that’s running on in-field chipping systems with practical lessons from their own in-field chipping operations in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Full details on the programme along with registration details can be found on the event website.

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Forestry Australia welcomes funding commitment

The peak organisation representing over 1,000 professional and scientific forest land managers in Australia has welcomed today’s $219 million forestry funding commitment by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Forestry Australia CEO Jacquie Martin said the announcement recognised the need for sustainable forestry in Australian society.

“Sustainable forestry is key to a prosperous and healthy future for Australian society and the environment,” Ms Martin said.

“We thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison for recognising the importance of investing in science, research and innovation.

“Forests are one of Australia’s greatest natural assets, and Australia has a long history of first-class forestry skills, experience and people needed to care for our forests.

“Forests are managed over very long time frames and long term vision and planning is required. That is why bipartisan support is so important if we are to achieve the social, economic, environmental and carbon capture potential of Australia’s forest estate.

“Forest management decisions need to exist outside of election cycles, and Forestry Australia calls for all parties to prioritise active and adaptive management of all forests so they can continue to benefit society and the environment in multiple ways for decades to come.

“We look forward to hearing how other parties plan to support long-term, scientifically-backed forest management policies.”

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Tairāwhiti: Funding to investigate carbon farm effects

Study will look at impact on whanau in farming, forestry.

A Tairāwhiti research group has secured funding of $250,000 to educate and work with Māori who are most likely to be impacted by permanent carbon farming in the region.

The group is funded through the Deep South Challenge which is one of the Government’s national science challenges that aim to tackle the country’s biggest science-based issues and provide job opportunities.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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Tigercat: Improved feller buncher released

LX830 Feller Buncher Advances to E-series: Tigercat has just released the LX830E track feller buncher with the latest features and upgrades, including a redesigned debris management system and an upgraded operator’s seat.

The LX830E is a powerful and stable leveling feller buncher with a compact tail swing and a high performance closed loop track drive system, well suited to steep slope thinning and final felling applications.

The updated E-series cab includes a new parallel action air ride seat with integrated heating and cooling. The reclining seat is fully adjustable with seat angle and seat extension adjustment. The wider seat cushion and lumbar support provide operator comfort all day long.

The HVAC controls feature a new infinitely variable fan speed control, adjusted on the control panel or the machine control system touchscreen, adding to operator comfort. Multiple convenient storage locations with nets have been added to the cab to keep items secure.

A redesigned engine enclosure provides improved roof access for clearing debris. A boom slider also reduces debris build-up in hard-to-reach areas.

A hot shutdown feature has been added. This allows the turbo to sufficiently cool before stopping the engine, improving turbo life. A larger, spring-assisted pump cover allows for easier service access to the hydraulic pump area. Hydraulic enhancements include quicker anti- stall response, consistent anti-cavitation flow and improved heat rejection.

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China: We've got a lot of eggs in one basket

(BusinessDesk) China's egg basket starting to smell fishy - The lure of access into China’s insatiable market means many New Zealand exporters have turned a blind eye to an old proverb: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

There is no denying it’s been a lucrative play, in particular given the 2008 free trade deal and its subsequent upgrade.

“China has definitely been a big growth platform for everyone over 20 years. There is no doubt about that,” says Sanford chief executive, Peter Reidie.

Today, China takes a third of NZ's exports, including about 80% of NZ’s logs, 95% of its rock lobsters, 40% of meat and 40% of dairy.

Exports to China were $20.2 billion in the 12 months to February. That’s 19% higher than a year earlier. Our second-largest trading partner is Australia, which gets $8b. That's a hefty concentration in one market, by any measure.

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Source: BusinessDesk
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Wood Markets: Bioenergy demand heats up

Wood Energy New Zealand Partnership formed as bioenergy market heats up - The creation of Wood Energy New Zealand, a strategic partnership between Pioneer Energy and Niagara Sawmilling Company, reflects the growth in the use of bioenergy to replace fossil fuels currently occurring, and how business are growing to respond to the demand for wood fuels.

Pioneer Energy and Niagara Sawmilling Company are both well established accredited wood fuel suppliers and the partnership will combine their existing strengths, and assist them meet larger wood fuel supply contracts.

Brian Cox, Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association said that “Currently around 10% of New Zealand’s consumer energy comes from biomass residues and it is expected that this will triple over the next few years as Government policies to transition from use of fossil fuels for process heat are implemented. While the existing supply of biomass for energy is sound the increased demand for biomass is incentivising companies like Pioneer Energy and Niagara to expand their business.”

Mr Cox says, “There is enough biomass residues available from plantation and farm forestry but experienced companies like Pioneer Energy and Niagara are needed to get biomass, which is often left on the ground and wasted, collected and delivered to customers.”

He adds, “These larger experienced wood fuel suppliers will have the capability to supply wood fuel to the large food processors and hospitals who are in the transition phase and need the confidence that suppliers have the capability to supply the fuel they need.”

Source: Bioenergy NZ
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Covid: A tipping point for automation?

Critical labour shortages are the catalyst for companies to finally automate and boost our decades- long productivity stagnation

On December 19, 2013 a 20-year-old Levin man, Lincoln Kidd, was crushed to death by a falling tree – the 10th forestry worker in New Zealand to die in a single year; the 27th in four years. Forestry was setting the wrong sort of records. There were so many deaths, the industry had its own dedicated coroner.

Enough was enough. As the media waded in and the unions launched high-profile campaigns, the Government finally called for an inquiry. The industry’s legitimacy, its social licence to operate, was on the line. Companies needed to dramatically improve their safety record.

The way to do it was to get people off the ground. Everyone knew having workers in big machines with reinforced cabs kept them much safer than having them cutting down trees with chainsaws and, even more dangerous, hooking up cut tree trunks so they could be hauled up often steep slopes.

Mechanisation and automation suddenly stopped being nice-to-have, they became must-have, particularly for bigger forestry companies. From 2013 to 2021, the forestry industry went from under 25 percent of production being mechanised to over 65 percent, says Professor Rien Visser from Canterbury University’s School of Forestry, the country’s leading expert in forest engineering.

Whereas a decade ago the average logging operation involved all or the majority of the felling and hooking- up work being done manually, these days the typical forestry crew, at least in big forests, has everyone in a machine. The death toll has started to fall – over each of the past two years three people died. Too many, but better than 10.

But something else happened too: productivity in the forestry sector has gone through the roof. These days, most crews are harvesting on average 300 tonnes a day, Visser says. A decade ago, 150 tonnes was “a big target”.

Meanwhile, the industry has been able to handle a major expansion, from 20 million cubic metres of wood a year in the early 2010s to 35 million now. And the industry has done that with about the same number of workers, an important factor given increasing labour shortages.

It’s been a slow, painful and very expensive transition. Some of these big machines cost $1-2 million each, a massive outlay for smaller contracting companies that often do the bulk of the work. Some companies went under.

In some hideous way, that unacceptable death toll in 2013 was a tipping point. It forced New Zealand’s forestry companies to do what they should have done anyway, but may not have because of the cost and the risk, because of inertia or union concern about job losses or worries about having to train people to use the new machines.

It forced them to innovate and automate. The initial move to automation and mechanisation was very challenging, Visser says. “Contractors’ cost structures were much higher, and there was huge pressure to be productive all the time.

“But once you have established a level of automation, no contractor would go back.”

More >>

Source: newsroom

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FRESTA fraternity: Final fling

If you were at all connected with the Forest Research Institute over the past 30 years you’ll remember it. The FRESTRA (Forest Research & Training) club and bar. It emerged on the campus of Forest Research Institute (FRI) at a time it probably wasn’t even questioned if it was appropriate for a government department to have such facilities on site.

The FRI Campus of the day incorporated, Forest Research, Forest Management Training, Timber Preservation and associated NZFS (NZ Forest Service) groups. A vibrancy was created by numerous visitors, overseas researchers, scientists and the like, training course attendees from all around NZ and local NZFS staff. Legalising an Incorporated Society wasn’t so hard, establishing a social facility complete with bar and licence demanded more covert activity and more innovative thinking.

A number of FRESTRA members were and are highly regarded as innovative thinkers. Think of a large training room, complete with whiteboard, low tables and easy lounge chairs and it’s easy to see how value was added to the training facilities on campus, and kept the bureaucrats happy.

The Club was incorporated in 1982 and was open to membership to staff from FRI ,the training centre, Forest Services Rotorua Conservancy and ultimately campus associates and visitors. Visitor books show single night memberships from overseas visitors and cohorts of forestry trainees, many of whom now occupy senior industry positions. The club facilities provided a meeting point particularly Thursday and Friday nights when any forestry type visiting Rotorua or left over from a course, could be guaranteed conversation and entertainment around the ‘leaner’.

The club was also responsible for other legendary ‘sporting’ pursuits and events, including cricket, trivia quiz nights, home brew competitions, the dog race, mediaeval banquet, annual golf tournament and even an athletic pursuit or two. The club can also claim association with the annual polar plunge and ‘study tours’ undertaken by FTC (Forest Training Centre) staff.

When the NZ Forest Service was corporatised in 1987 there was a loss of identity for NZFS staff and along with this came a need for the Conservancy Social club to pass on the club bach (crib for South Islanders) at Papamoa to FRESTRA for safekeeping. This served as a holiday bach and then holiday house, after the section was subdivided and a larger dwelling erected. The FRESTRA Club was the owner and custodian.

Sadly, a series of events conspired to a declining membership and under- utilisation of the bach. This meant the bach had to be sold and a wind-up of the club. With a lot of soul searching and with the participation of all remaining members, the bach proceeds were distributed to the Waiotapu Forest School camp, NZ Timber Museum and the bulk to Future Foresters, a special interest group of NZ Institute of Forestry. They are all charged with doing their bit to promote and preserve the values of the Forest Service, while maintaining the sense of fun and social engagement promoted by the captains of industry and research who provided the culture of FRESTRA.

So, to mark the end of an era, the final wind-up is happening at the Rotorua East Bowling Club on Saturday 30 April from 4 pm. The form will be informal, with drinks and a meal, with numbers probably limited to 200 people.

If you are an ex-member, visitor or associate and want to participate, please contact Terry Lemon at: frestra2022@gmail.com

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NASA: Counting forest carbon the easy way

NASA Releases Breakthrough Forest Biomass-Carbon Product - NASA’s GEDI mission has reached a major milestone with the release of its newest data product, which provides the first near-global estimate of aboveground forest biomass and the carbon it stores – filling a key gap in climate research.

The data enables research into how Earth’s forests are changing, what role they play in mitigating climate change, and the regional and global impacts of planting and cutting down trees.

With the new data product from GEDI, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, ecosystem and climate researchers can quickly locate their regions of interest and study forest structure and carbon content with greater precision than in the past.

The new biomass product release comes as GEDI is within a one-year mission extension and represents the culmination of critical advancements in spaceborne lidar (a type of laser) research.

Counting carbon in Earth’s forests

GEDI is a high-resolution lidar instrument designed specifically to measure vegetation. From its vantage point aboard the International Space Station, GEDI rapidly bounces laser pulses off the trees and shrubs below to create detailed 3D maps of forests and land formations. The resulting data product, processed and gridded at a 1-km (0.39-square mile) resolution, allows researchers to study questions about forest ecosystems, animal habitats, carbon content, and climate change.

In its first three years in orbit, GEDI has captured billions of measurements between 51.6 degrees north and south latitudes (approximately the latitudes of London and the Falkland Islands, respectively).

The new data product combines data from GEDI with airborne and ground-based lidars to construct a global biomass map that reveals the amount of vegetation contained in an area.

“One big area of uncertainty is that we don’t know how much carbon is stored in the Earth’s forests,” said Ralph Dubayah, GEDI’s principal investigator and a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland. Trees pull carbon from the atmosphere to fuel their growth. But scientists need to know how much carbon forests store so they can predict how much will be released by deforestation or wildfires. Approximately half of plant biomass is composed of carbon.


Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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... and finally ... some grand funnies

My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods."
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

A little girl was diligently pounding away on the keyboard of her grandfather's computer.
She told him she was writing a story.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

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

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John Stulen
Innovatek Limited
PO Box 1230
Rotorua, New Zealand
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