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China adjusts import tariffs while closing the door to Australian timber

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 42 min ago
On 1 January 2021 China adjusted import tariffs on commodities including some of those in the most favoured nation (MFN) category, conventional tariffs and provisional tariffs commodities. This was in response to the various trade deals agreed including the Free Trade Agreement between China and Mauritius. Source: Tropical Timber Market Report Further tariff reductions will be made under the free trade agreements China has signed with countries including New Zealand, Peru, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Iceland, Pakistan, Chile, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Georgia as well as the Asia-Pacific trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Among the changes and in order to encourage domestic demand for imported materials the import duties on more than 100 wood products will be reduced. China will continue to apply preferential tariff rates to goods from the 43 of the least developed countries that have established diplomatic ties with China Tariff concessions under China-Mongolia Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement. Also, on 1 January 2021 China and Mongolia implemented tariff changes under RCEP. Mongolia reduced tariffs on 366 tariff lines including, among others, aquatic products, vegetables and fruits, animal and vegetable oil, mineral products, chemical products, timber, yarn, chemical fibres, mechanical products, and transport equipment. As a result of finding pests in imported Australian logs on three occasions (31 October, 11 November and 3 December 2020) China’s Customs issued warning notices to suspend the import of Australian logs from Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Live forest pests were found in logs from New South Wales State and Western Australia by Tianjin, Nanjing, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Huangpu Customs. In accordance with the provisions of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Law of the people’s Republic of China the country is implementing regulations and International Standards for Phytosanitary measures. China has decided to suspend the import of logs from New South Wales and Western Australia.

Ikea now owns 613,000 acres of forest in US

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 44 min ago
Ikea holding company Ingka Group has acquired forestland property in the US from The Conservation Fund, a non-profit conservation organisation that has protected over 8 million acres of land in the US. The acquisition strengthens Ingka Group’s commitment to responsible forest management, as conservation measures are fully included in the forest management plans. Source: Timberbiz The property is located in southeast Georgia near the Altamaha River Basin. It consists of approximately 4386 hectares (10,840 acres). “We are honoured to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the US and Europe. Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund. Ingka Group has assumed all legally binding agreements set in place by The Conservation Fund which include the obligation to protect the land from fragmentation, restore the longleaf pine forest, and safeguard the habitat of the gopher tortoise (a priority species for conservation). Under these agreements the public will continue to enjoy access to the lands normally forbidden by typical forestland owners. “We are delighted to continue our forestland acquisitions in the US. With this new acquisition, we own roughly 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) in five states – Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. “This investment in Georgia is special to us as our partners from The Conservation Fund understood our long-term vision and have entrusted us to ensure the protection of the forestland,” says Krister Mattsson, Managing Director Ingka Investments. “We are committed to managing our forests sustainably while at the same time meeting our business objectives. In all our properties, we pay special attention to ensuring environmental protection, so we are happy to see that our efforts in working with responsible forest management are being seen and trusted.” Ingka Group currently owns and responsibly manages around 248,000 hectares (approx. 613,000 acres) of forestland in the US and Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania). To guarantee the management meets the highest environmental and social standards, Ingka Group’s forest management is audited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). In all countries where it operates, the management units hold the FSC certificate for forest management. Between September 2019 and August 2020 Ingka Group planted 600,000 seedlings afforesting 480 hectares (1186 acres) in the US and close to seven million seedlings at the level of the entire portfolio, around the world. “The transfer of these lands to Ingka Investments completes our Working Forest Fund process, through which we identify and buy important, at risk private forests; develop sustainable harvest and restoration plans; secure permanent conservation protections to block fragmentation and development; and then resell the permanently conserved forest to a private or public buyer,” Mr Selzer said.  

Good Design Award for first electric backhoe

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 50 min ago
CASE Construction Equipment has earned a 2020 Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and Metropolitan Arts Press for “Project Zeus”: the CASE 580 EV (electric vehicle) backhoe loader — the world’s first electric backhoe. The award recognizes “the most innovative and cutting-edge industrial, product, and graphic designs produced around the world”. Source: Timberbiz This is the third CASE design to win in four years. CASE G Series wheel loaders were honoured in 2017, and the methane-powered concept wheel loader, Project Tetra, won in 2019. “Project Zeus” was noted for its innovative lighting/backlighting design elements; its rugged and clean lines and contouring; and a modern and intuitive user experience that combines traditional backhoe operation with specialization related to electrification. “The theme is born from combining the essence of CASE heritage and the mission of sustainability into a clean and simple design,” says David Wilkie, head of the CNH Industrial Design Centre. “It is extremely practical and built around function while delivering distinctive design elements that communicate strength and progress. From the lighting to the colour and the way that the operator interacts with the machine. Project Zeus represents the sustainability and forward-thinking of our industry.” According to Leandro Lecheta, head of construction North America, CNH Industrial the electrification of equipment, and the focus on sustainable power sources and machine ownership/operation, are all driving forces for public and private fleet owners around the world. From an operational perspective: the power and performance of the CASE 580 EV is equivalent to diesel-powered backhoes in the CASE product line and provides considerably lower daily operating costs while also producing zero emissions.

Boards and execs are liable for manslaughter so OHS training is vital

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 51 min ago
A global risk management provider warns that delegating accountability for workplace safety will not be sufficient defence for board members and C-Suite executives under new industrial manslaughter laws across Australia. Source: Timberbiz Instead, company directors must be actively and directly involved in the establishment and review of, and training around, workplace safety systems, to reduce their risk of personal liability and prosecution in case of a workplace fatality. The most effective method of ensuring compliance with the new laws is certification to the latest international occupational health and safety standard. SAI Global has audited, certified and trained thousands of organisations seeking to meet the international ISO 45001 standard for occupational health and safety, in addition to Federal and State workplace health and safety legislation. “Industrial manslaughter laws legislated in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the ACT place legal liability squarely at the feet of the C-suite and company directors for industrial manslaughter,” SAI Global workplace safety expert Kiran Bhagat SAID. “Organisations must ensure their compliance to OHS laws is over and above current standards and, besides, aim to meet and exceed inter-national standards as a safeguard. The highest-ranking leaders in an organisation must be proactively involved in these processes.” The penalties under the new laws are unprecedented. In Victoria, it is a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment for individuals and a staggering maximum fine of $16.5 million for companies, while in the Northern Territory penalties could be life imprisonment and fines up to $10.075 million. In Western Australia, the maximum penalty is up to 20 years’ imprisonment for individuals and fines of up to $10 million for companies. The ACT was the first State to enact an industrial manslaughter law, with penalties currently sitting at $1.62 million for a body corporate or $320,000 for an individual, or 20 years’ imprisonment (or both). In Queensland, directors could face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, and organisations could receive fines exceeding $10 million. “It is no longer acceptable for company directors to delegate workplace safety, or pass the blame, to management representatives,” Mr Bhagat said. “As the most senior figureheads of an organisation, they are accountable for the actions of their employees, and the penalties stand to have a profound personal impact on their lives. It is the reason why certification to ISO 45001 – the latest international standard to which thou-sands of organisations are certified – is the most effective approach to complying with the requirements of the new industrial manslaughter laws.” Mr Bhagat said that under both the law and the standard, business leaders must be directly involved, take a preventative approach, and ensure involvement from workers and contractors. Everyone must have a voice. He said OHS must become a part of an organisation’s management commitments. “Agenda items in management and board meeting should include a re-view of OHS procedures, accidents and near-misses, directive actions such as training to mitigate risks, creating opportunities for a safer workplace and documentation requirements,” he said. Directors and board members also needed to be involved in training. “Previously, OHS performance was driven by policy,” Mr Bhagat said. “Now there are additional required commitments – particularly the elimination of all hazards. Overall, rather than a procedures-based approach, now best practice is to take a systems-based approach.” In 2020, there were 147 deaths of workers on the jobs and already the first cases of negligence under State-based industrial manslaughter legislation are being prosecuted, with a West Australian company di-rector facing charges of gross negligence and possible jail time after the third serious breach of the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act since 2013. The company has been fined more than half a million dollars in the largest fine ever imposed in that State for a WHS breach. In Queensland, two directors of a Brisbane auto recycling business are facing the possibility of jail time, and a fine of $3 million following the death of a forklift driver. In both cases, the companies appear to have ignored WHS directives and guidelines and failed to install adequate safety equipment and systems. “If the appropriate stakeholders in a business understand, promote and implement robust workplace safety systems and ensure they undertake specialised training, they could make a real impact to reducing the risk of workplace accidents, injuries or fatalities,” Mr Bhagat said.

NZ wilding control program may have residual problems

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 52 min ago
New Zealand is undertaking one of the largest wilding pine control programs in the world. The spread of wilding pines threatens the ecology and economy of indigenous grasslands, scrublands and forests, especially in the South Island high country. Source: Timberbiz Wilding pines are self-sown conifers originating from early forestry, shelterbelt and farm plantings. Around two million hectares in New Zealand are estimated to be infested. The goal of wilding pine management is to limit future spread and reduce the extent of current infestations. Over the next decade, control operations will be carried out over large areas with various densities of wilding pines with over $100 million already allocated towards achieving this goal. The most efficient operational tool that New Zealand currently has to control dense wilding conifer infestations is aerial spraying of the ‘TDPA’ brew, which combines the herbicides Triclopyr, Dicamba, Picloram, and Aminopyralid into a single mixture at relatively high concentrations. Scion researchers have looked at the persistence of Triclopyr, Dicamba and Dicloram in soil, forest floor litter, sediment and water. They looked at three sites located in the Mackenzie Ba-sin, Southland and the Hawke’s Bay following aerial spraying with TDPA. The goal was to quantify the amounts of herbicide present in the environment and the degradation over time to determine long-term impacts following application. Three sites sprayed as part of the National Wilding Conifer Control Program between January 2018 and February 2019 were included in the trial set. Their work showed that after two years, levels of Triclopyr, Picloram and Dicamba were below detection limits in soils. However, herbicides were detectable in the forest floor litter layer (mainly discarded needles) at all sites after two years. The general conclusion was that the levels of herbicides were below the thresholds that would be considered toxic to terrestrial fauna. The highest concentrations of herbicides in water were detected on the day of spraying or following the first rainfall after spraying. Threshold standards were exceeded at one site after rainfall 13 days after spraying. A more intensive monitoring programme is required to determine whether these temporary fluctuations in herbicide concentrations had the potential to affect freshwater ecosystems. The research showed that the persistence of herbicides in the forest floor litter had the potential to affect woody vegetation regeneration beneath controlled wilding stands. The researchers collected soil and forest floor litter from the sprayed Mackenzie Basin site and a nearby un-treated site, one, six and 16 months after spraying. Subsequently they assessed germination rates of Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine, the most common wilding species) and indigenous plant seeds in the collected samples. Overall, they observed very poor germination rates for the P. contorta, including abnormal growth for those that did germinate, a typical indication of herbicide phytotoxicity. Even 16 months after spraying, the levels of herbicide were still high enough to cause needle curling, root deformities and lower seedling biomass in lodgepole pine. The indigenous plants also fared poorly. By 16 months post-spraying, herbicide levels had dropped enough to not affect the germination or mortality of native seedlings, but some symptoms of toxicity could still be seen in manuka and twiggy coprosma plants. The effects of residual herbicides in the decomposing needle litter could limit the resurgence of P. contorta for at least 16 months after spraying. However, this also has consequences for seeding or planting with natives as a restorative practice. To improve the chances of successful revegetation, it is suggested that restoration be delayed until at least two years after application of the TDPA brew. Understanding the long-term effect of using herbicides in the environment is important to vali-date and inform best practice and to retain the licence to operate for chemical control of wildings. It also helps with developing management plans to prevent re-infestations, which include revegetation, ensuring the initial investment in control is not wasted and that ecosystems and landscapes are protected. This work has been funded by the New Zealand Wilding Conifer Control Group and through the Sustainable Farming Fund, Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dizzying heights of new home builds can’t last

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 53 min ago
New Home Sales reached remarkable heights in December, nearly doubling compared with the number of sales recorded in November, according to HIA economist, Angela Lillicrap. The surge in sales has been attributed to HomeBuilder as households finalised contracts to build a new home before the 31 December 2020 deadline to access the $25,000 grant. The same level of purchases is not expected in January. Source: Timberbiz The HIA New Home Sales report – a monthly survey of the largest volume home builders in the five largest states – is a leading indicator of future detached home construction. “This is the second strongest month of New Home Sales in the 20-year history of the survey, only exceeded by March 2001,” Ms Lillicrap said. She said the extension of the timeframe to commence building from three months to six, which was announced in November, played a significant role in December’s results. New Home Sales in 2020 increased by 32.5% compared with 2019. “This is an exceptional result given the nature of the pandemic and the effect that it has had on the broader economy,” Ms Lillicrap said. “It is not expected that this remarkable volume of sales will continue into January. The extension of HomeBuilder to allow contracts to be signed before March 2021 with a grant of $15,000 will support the sales of new homes into 2021, but not at this elevated level. “Low interest rates, improved lending assessment and growth in the price of established homes will also support demand for new homes in 2021.” The monthly increase in sales has been broad-based across the states with the exception of Western Australia which declined by 9.5%. “Western Australia has been the strongest performing state since the announcement of HomeBuilder and the state government’s Build Bonus grant in June,” Ms Lillicrap said. “Despite the underperformance relative to other jurisdictions, the December results are still elevated compared to previous years, with sales in the December 2020 quarter double the same time last year. “The strength of New Home Sales is a positive sign that home building will support jobs on the ground throughout 2021.” Across the country, new home sales in the December quarter were higher in all regions when compared with the same period in 2019: South Australia (188.3%), Victoria (103.1%), Queensland (99.9%), Western Australia (99.2%), and New South Wales (61.7%).

New CEO for Vic Forest Products Association

Australian timber industry news - 4 hours 54 min ago
Former Australian Pork senior executive Deb Kerr is the Victorian Forest Products Association’s foundation CEO. Ms Kerr has extensive experience in the primary industries sector, having worked in various industry representative roles across the sector, and most recently as a senior executive with Australian Pork Limited where she was General Manager of Policy. Source: Timberbiz The VFPA replaces the Victorian Association of Forest Industries. The Chair of the VFPA Tony Price said Ms Kerr’s appointment marks a new beginning for the Victorian forest industries as the single united voice for timber growers, harvesters, processors, and manufacturers, with the backing and support of a national body. “Deb brings a wealth of experience and she has the skills and experience needed to represent our industry with the State Government and in the wider Victorian community, and we’re glad to have her on board,” Mr Price said. Ms Kerr said she is excited about the new role and is looking forward to starting. “Victorian sustainably operated forest industries produce the ultimate renewable that is used by Australians every day in more ways than they probable realise,” she said. “The state’s native forests and plantations integrate environmental, commercial and community values while contributing around $730 million to the Victorian economy and directly employing more than 21,000 people, many of whom live and work in regional communities.  It’s an honour and privilege to lead this new organisation.” Mr Price said that the VFPA and the AFPA would work closely together. “The forest products industry is a major contributor to Victoria’s economy and a major employer, and Deb joins it with a well-earned reputation.  I congratulate her and look forward to working with her when she starts on 1 February.” Mr Price has also paid tribute to Tim Johnston, the outgoing Chief Executive of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries. “I want to thank Tim and acknowledge his many years of service to the industry,” Mr Price said.

Eden-Monaro bushfire recovery fund applications close soon

Australian timber industry news - Tue, 19/01/2021 - 23:59
Community groups right across Eden-Monaro are working furiously towards the upcoming deadline for the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. Source: Timberbiz Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said the fund closed on 28 January 2021 and will provide $250 million of funding to support the social and economic recovery of bushfire-affected communities. “I have heard from many community groups and individuals that the application process is onerous and difficult to navigate,” she said. “In order to assist community groups, I wrote to the Australian National University, University of Wollongong and the University of Canberra late last year to see if they could assist with the grant writing process in a voluntary capacity. “I’m delighted to say that many staff members have offered their support for free. “As we enter a new year, it’s humbling to know that people are still thinking of our community and how they can help,” Ms McBain said. Ms McBain has previously been critical of the Federal Government’s handling of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, which she said hadn’t even consulted on which regions should qualify for millions of dollars in bushfire recovery money. Yet some of the worst affected regions, such as the Eurobodalla, where nearly 800 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, the Bega Valley (nearly 600 homes), and the Shoalhaven (more than 450 homes), didn’t make the cut. Snowy Valleys (240 homes destroyed or severely impacted) and Queanbeyan-Palerang (almost 80 homes) were also overlooked. Community groups seeking support are encouraged to contact Kristy McBain’s office or phone 02 6492 0542 to be put in touch with one of the volunteers.  

Pine log yard development for Eden

Australian timber industry news - Tue, 19/01/2021 - 23:58
Since the devastating 2020 bushfires, vital revenue from softwood export log sales together with woodchip sales from interim woodchip operations has allowed Allied Natural Wood Ex-ports (ANWE) to retain employment during the rebuild of the Eden wood processing and export facility. Source: Timberbiz Post the bushfires, log deliveries to the Eden export terminal recommenced in February 2020 with the operation receiving approximately 12,000-tonnes of pine per week from the fire affected forests in Bombala, an average of 80 haulage trucks through the gate each day. At times this has led to the export log yard reaching full capacity and being unable to accept additional deliveries from growers. The development of a four-hectare site into a suitable pine log storage area will allow for an additional 60,000 tonnes of burnt-logs to be handled and stored at the Eden facility. ANWE Director, Malcolm McComb said that the Pine Log Yard Development was possible due to the funding secured under the NSW Government’s $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package. “We are grateful for the tremendous support that we have received from the NSW Government following the 2019/20 bushfires,” he said. “The Bushfire Industry Recovery Package highlights the NSW Government’s commitment to support the forest and forest products industry thereby retaining and creating regional jobs and generating economic activity.” The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said regional NSW had experienced a tough year. “Regional NSW has had a tough year with drought, COVID-19 and the devastating bushfires which presented unprecedented challenges to our timber industry.” “I know how important our timber industry is to NSW which is why we are committed to safe-guarding jobs and supporting regional communities.” “The timber industry is the backbone of many regional towns in NSW and the $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package is working to keep valuable jobs in the bush which means more money in the local economy.” “The NSW Nationals are committed to a safer and stronger regional NSW which is why we are doing everything we can to support job creation and retention now, when it is needed most,” Mr Barilaro said. Mr McComb said creating the new log storage area will provide ANWE and its partner, Pentarch Forestry with the opportunity to secure additional sales and allows for salvage operations to be optimised and tree replanting to occur, providing long-term stability to the Eden operation and to a large network of contractors across Eden, Bombala, Batemans Bay and East Gippsland. “We are aware of the importance of our operations to the economy in the southern NSW and East Gippsland regions and harvesting of this bushfire affected resource is key to the recovery of these fire-scarred regions.” “The additional value to the regional economy from ANWE’s ability to store and export the additional pine log volume is estimated to be $7.9 million,” Mr McComb said.

Not all NSW timber industry affected by China ban

Australian timber industry news - Tue, 19/01/2021 - 23:56
The local timber industry in the Snowy Valleys has been largely unaffected by the recent ban on New South Wales timber being imported to China. Source: Tumut and Adelong Times Just before Christmas, China suspended imports of timber from NSW and Western Australia, with local customs officers reporting to have found pests in cargoes from those states. The ban followed on from a separate ban in November, in which China indefinitely suspended imports of all Victorian timber logs after an unofficial ban on Australian exports came into force. Site manager of the Tumut AKD Mill, Rab Green, said that the company deals primarily within Australia, so the ban hasn’t had any significant impact on them. Mr Green said there could be potential for timber that was meant to go to China to be utilised at the mill instead of going overseas, but this is not a focus right now – AKD’s focus remains on the ongoing salvage operation, which Mr Green said is “nearing its end.” Since last February, Tumut’s AKD mill has been working in overdrive, processing as much burnt timber as possible that was burnt during the Dunns Road bushfire. The burnt trees were said to have a harvest time frame of around 12 months before they deteriorated, depending on weather conditions and how burnt the logs were. Tumbarumba’s Hyne Mill is also facing no direct impact from the China ban, because it doesn’t own or export logs. “However, for the last 12 months, we have been seeking an avenue to apply for Government support to divert sawlogs logs to the Tumbarumba Mill which were otherwise destined for China and currently have no home,” Hyne’s Manager of Strategic Relations, Katie Fowden, said. “The logs are outside of our viable freighting distance and the added costs cannot be absorbed or passed onto customers. “The bushfires decimated 40% of our feedstock and while Government support to optimise the $200M mill is great, it doesn’t assist in getting more logs to the mill, keeping more people in jobs, keeping supply of timber for the construction sector and also the volumes of much needed by-product for customers such as Visy in Tumut.” An independent economic analysis by REMPLAN has determined that for every $1 of Government support to divert logs to Tumbarumba, there will be $8 retained in revenue across NSW which otherwise wouldn’t exist, Ms Fowden said. “One hundred and ninety-three jobs will be supported across NSW and a further 63 in the Victorian transport sector. And $244M in gross revenue across NSW will be retained, $144M of which will be in Tumbarumba,” she added. “There is no avenue to apply for this Government bushfire recovery assistance at present and now with the China ban on exports, there is support for those impacted to find alternative export markets but not domestic markets.”

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