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US lumber prices claim a 375% increase in a year

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 10 min ago
  Prices for all categories of lumber break records as futures prices surge with no relief in sight for buyers. Closing prices on Friday, April 16, 2021 of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Random Length Lumber Futures contracts for every delivery month in 2021 were all above US$1000 per board foot, with the spot, or nearest delivery contract for May 2021 settling at an incredible US$1294.70. Source: Forbes For perspective, exactly one year prior on April 16, 2020 that very same May 2021 futures contract was trading at around US$345. Not many asset classes can claim a 375% price increase in a year’s time, and lumber’s historic price rise will surely ripple through the building industry and the overall economy with consequences as yet unknown. What’s certain now is that the futures curve is still not signalling when lumber prices might halt their relentless ascent and eventually head lower. We observed in both December 2020 and again in February 2021 that the lumber futures curve was inverted and relatively flat, meaning the nearby price of lumber was higher than the price of lumber further into the future, but that prices further out were not at enough of a discount to indicate an imminent easing of prices like happened in September of 2020, when there was a steep discount eight months out the futures curve of around 45%. Lumber prices declined shortly thereafter by about half in only six weeks’ time. Right now, though, the price difference between the May 2021 and November 2021 lumber futures contracts is about 22%, which in the lumber futures world simply isn’t enough of a discount to signal an impending price decline. Even the May 2022 contract, a full year out the curve from the current spot month, is priced at “only” a 25% discount. None of this is good news for builders or other professional buyers of nearly all grades of lumber, because they’ve got to have lumber to build, and the building season is hitting full stride as the calendar advances. These folks are paying up because they have no alternative, and there is no indication this trend will end anytime soon. The pros who use lumber will continue to buy what they need, if they can get it, even at elevated price levels. A few signals are starting to emerge that could be harbingers of a change in trend. There are incidental reports that the price increases in lumber materials for DIY home improvement projects may cause consumers to redirect their attention away from lumber intensive activities to other endeavours, such as new appliances, landscaping upgrades, or even taking more vacations. Whatever their choice, less lumber will likely be in the consumer retail mix than last (northern) summer. Most significantly, the futures price of lumber is approaching a nearly US$100 premium to the actual “cash price” of certain comparable physical random length lumbers, a situation that won’t last long if history is any guide. Price disconnects of this sort rectify in one of two ways: either the physical price rises to meet the futures price, or, more commonly, the futures price, usually driven to a premium over physical supplies by panic buying, corrects down to the true price of the commodity. There is no way to predict which way the premium will correct, but there is a very real physical lumber supply shortage, with many yards sold out through May 2021 and beyond. The price of physical lumber seems like it still has to rise a bit more because mills are at capacity and unable to meet current demand. Price rationing is really the only solution, and lumber prices have clearly begun the painful process of finding the highest price above which few people, be they professionals or DIYers, will pay.

Sennebogen materials handler equipped for timber work

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 11 min ago
Sennebogen’s 830 E series materials handler supports timber professionals in log transport and sawing operations as it is mobile with practical trailer application stands, a robust design and is delivered with 14m equipment as standard, depending on the weight to be loaded and trailer length. Source: Timberbiz Thanks to the heavy-duty undercarriage with all-wheel drive, it is ideally equipped to tow trailers of up to 80 tons even on rough terrain. The increased payload of the trailer massively reduces travel distances by up to 60%. A route analysis on existing log yards is worthwhile and often uncovers potential savings that were previously unimagined without necessarily having to redesign the yard. This is because the intelligent design of the Sennebogen 830 Trailer makes turning manoeuvres possible without any problems, even on tighter routes. In the tracked version, there are also other interesting applications for the 830 in timber operations, such as for embankment maintenance on highways or busy roads. The 830 E in tree configuration benefits from the positive characteristics of the machine concept with a reach of over 17m, a payload of around 3.5 t and a stable base thanks to a telescopic crawler undercarriage. So even hard-to-reach logs with a large diameter can be removed without any problems. Its high-performance hydraulic system helps to reliably and safely operate attachments that require high pressures and delivery rates. Another plus is the elevating and 30° tilting cab option for a closer view of the felling area while comfortably leaning back in the seat.

Apple launches Restore Fund for investors in forestry

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 12 min ago
  Apple announced a first-of-its-kind carbon removal initiative, called the Restore Fund, that will make investments in forestry projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere while generating a financial return for investors. Source: Timberbiz Launched with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs, Apple’s US$200 million fund aims to remove at least 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount of fuel used by over 200,000 passenger vehicles, while demonstrating a viable financial model that can help scale up investment in forest restoration. “Nature provides some of the best tools to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Forests, wetlands, and grasslands draw carbon from the atmosphere and store it away permanently in their soils, roots, and branches,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. “Through creating a fund that generates both a financial return as well as real, and measurable carbon impacts, we aim to drive broader change in the future, encouraging investment in carbon removal around the globe. Our hope is that others share our goals and contribute their resources to support and protect critical ecosystems.” This effort is part of Apple’s broader goal to become carbon neutral across its entire value chain by 2030. While the company will directly eliminate 75% of emissions for its supply chain and products by 2030, the fund will help address the remaining 25% of Apple’s emissions by removing carbon from the atmosphere. The partnership aims to unlock the potential of this natural solution by scaling it in a way that makes it attractive to businesses. To ensure that the carbon stored in forests is being accurately quantified, and permanently locked out of the atmosphere, the Restore Fund will use robust international standards developed by recognised organisations such as Verra, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the UN Climate Convention. And it will prioritise investments in working forests that improve biodiversity through the creation of buffer zones and natural set-asides. Conservation International is a co-investor in the fund and is ensuring that projects meet strict environmental and social standards. Goldman Sachs is managing the fund. The three parties will identify new projects later this year. “Innovation is core to Apple’s approach to climate solutions, and Goldman Sachs is proud to partner with them and Conservation International,” said Dina Powell, Global Head of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth at Goldman Sachs. “We all agree that the urgency of climate transition requires private capital to work alongside new and established efforts aimed at sustainably removing carbon from the atmosphere with rigour and high standards. We believe launching this fund can catalyse significant additional investment capital for climate impact.”  

Plantation forestry is good for environmental health

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 14 min ago
A New Zealand government environmental report is a clear indication that trees are good for soil and water health, according to the Forest Owners Association. Source: Timberbiz The Ministry for the Environment’s latest environmental report scores exotic forestry highly for its low impact on soils. It also identified exotic forests as the land use by far the least affected by low macroporosity, which is an indication of poor drainage. The analysis found only 11% of exotic forests were below the macroporosity target range, whereas 75% of lifestyle blocks had the problem. Likewise, the analysis found only 12% of exotic forest soils had higher than a target range of phosphate.  This element can have downstream environmental impacts, such as lowering water oxygen levels or promoting toxic algal growth. This forest percentage compares favourably with dairy and cropping properties, where 61% of sites were above the target range. Fertiliser is applied to exotic forests very rarely, and the phosphate levels here are most likely to be a temporary result of recent planting trees on farmland. Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says the report is a clear indication that trees, whether exotic or indigenous, are good for soil and water health. “All forests prevent erosion, filter water and reduce flood damage. With commercial pines there is a huge advantage in rapid carbon sequestration to combat climate change as well,” he said. Mr Taylor said another part of the report assessed the higher Land Use Capability classes, 1-4 as “most productive for pasture and forestry”. “I hope our primary sector ministers take that point on board.  They need to realise that forestry is a valid productive use choice for landowners,” he said. “The ministers’ suggestions during the election campaign that this productivity only applies to farming are quite wrong and so they ought to drop their ideas of preventing productive and profitable forestry on these land classes.”

WA FPC community grants

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 15 min ago
West Australian Forestry Minister Dave Kelly announced that the Forest Products Commission’s Community Support Program had opened applications for 2021 funding. The program has delivered $90,000 in grants to 55 community organisations since starting in 2018. Source: Timberbiz This year, grants of up to $2000 from a total of $40,000, are on offer to community groups across the South-West of Western Australia. In 2020, the program provided grants to a range of groups, including volunteer fire brigades, Aboriginal communities, regional community events, and children’s sporting clubs. Applications are invited from organisations and groups that contribute to regional communities, encourage recreation in State forests or educate the community about the benefits of forestry and the timber industry. “The McGowan Government is committed to supporting our regional communities and a sustainable forestry industry,” Minister Kelly said. “Last year the program provided grants to a range of culturally diverse projects, including one to an Aboriginal corporation for a training program in plant cultivation. “These grants aim to highlight the important role the forestry industry plays in supporting our regional communities economically, but also in contributing to their vibrancy and making them great places to ive.” Applications close on April 28, 2021. For more information, visit: https://www.wa.gov.au/service/community-services/community-support/community-support-program-forest-products-commission

Roger Davis: 50 years at Jubilee Mill sees a lot of changes

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 15 min ago
Roger Davis started working at the Jubilee Sawmill site in 1971. This year, after a long and dedicated career, Roger will transition into a well-earned retirement. He shared a little bit of his story… Source: Roger Davis, Jubilee Mill Kilns Manager I started at the mill as a timber stacker on 16 March 1971. I was 15 and it was only two weeks after arriving from England with my family. My first pay packet was $16. These days safety is the highest priority, but back then health and safety were almost non-existent. There were no inductions or mandatory protection like eye and ear protection. Timber stacking and wrapping was all done by hand, even logs were manually rolled onto the log deck. The first stress grader was fed manually, obviously at much slower feed speeds that the current high-speed line. My father and brother both worked here when I started, and my late father was kilns manager in the early ‘70s. I often helped out on weekends at the kilns. There were many families that worked at the mill Mum, Dad and often their children, including a lot of migrant families and so many different cultures. I worked my way up from timber stacker to forklift driver then machinist operating any moulder/planer or machines in both mill A and B. I was promoted to leading hand in late ‘70s and worked in all areas of the dry mill. Also, in the late ‘70s the mill had a cricket team in the local competition made from players from all sections – some had never played before. We ended up with two teams in C and D grade, and I was lucky enough to captain the side to a C grade premiership. In 1983, Dry Mill B was transformed into a high-speed moulding line when the Waco moulder and associated equipment was installed, I was the appointed shift team leader and later shift supervisor. At the time, the Waco moulder was one of the most efficient high-speed moulders in Australia, able to run at speeds up to 180 metres per minute and producing high quality profiles such as match lining, flooring and decking products. In the 90s I managed Dry mill A and B at different times, then in late 1990 I was offered the position as kilns manager, so I worked over Easter that year to do a crash course in kiln drying. At the time we still had old limestone kilns from the late ‘50s and four newly installed high temp Windsor kilns. In 2009, four new Windsor High temp kilns were installed. These kilns could dry more than the 22 older kilns and were much safer to operate. All old kilns were demolished making way for pack storage from Green Mill. The four Windsor kilns have proven to be the most efficient batch kilns Winsor have in Australia and have dried over 4 million cubic meters of timber for our dry mills to process. Now it’s exciting to see the new CDK operational and already producing quality kiln dried timber. I have seen many changes to equipment and technology over the years. I’ve worked with so many good people over the years and would like to thank them for their friendship and support, that without I would not have made it to 50 years.  

NZ High Court fines investors $1.3m for breach in buying forests

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 17 min ago
The High Court in Auckland has ordered overseas investors to pay penalties totalling NZ$1.38 million and legal costs for breaching the Overseas Investment Act. The significant penalty follows a family purchasing five forestry blocks totalling 3600 hectares for $12.8 million. Source: Timberbiz The land at Awakino, Ngāruawāhia, Awaroa, Paranui and Manganui was acquired under the names of several companies. Those companies were Smith Road Farm Ltd, Paranui Forest Ltd and 488 Manganui Road Farm Ltd. The family used relatives based in New Zealand to invest on their behalf. The investors knew permission was required to buy the forestry blocks but did not seek Overseas Investment Office approval. While the family’s lawyer provided poor legal advice, the Court found that the investors’ breaches were negligent. Justice Downs said that “the breaches are serious because the properties are large” and were “acquired for commercial gain.” Justice Downs accepted that discounts to the penalty were appropriate because the family admitted the breaches and co-operated by disposing of the properties. Overseas Investment Office Group Manager Anna Wilson-Farrell said: “Investors in New Zealand need to be careful when participating in or acting jointly with an overseas person to buy sensitive New Zealand assets. Breaches of the Act can come with serious consequences, including being required to sell property and pay civil penalties.”  

First mass-timber fire station in Australia

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 18 min ago
A contract to deliver Maryborough’s new $12.1 million fire and emergency services station has been awarded to timber manufacturer Hyne Timber and building firm Hutchinson Builders. This will be the first mass-timber fire station in Australia. Source: Timberbiz The project will deliver a replacement station for Fire and Rescue Service firefighters, officers and staff as well as a new regional fire and emergency services headquarters at the existing Lennox Street site. Both will be the first mass-timber fire and emergency services buildings in Australia. The replacement station will also retain the existing brick façade. Hyne Timber Executive Director James Hyne said the project was a great way to support region-al jobs while showcasing the many qualities of glue laminated and cross laminated timber. “Hyne Timber has been a proud part of Maryborough’s history since 1882 with a strong focus on innovation,” Mr Hyne said. “We know the existing building has local heritage value, so it was important to us to retain and even restore the iconic façade as part of the design. “From the local plantation forest through to the Tuan sawmill and ending in our new Glue Laminated Timber plant, this building in the heart of our hometown will be a showcase of contemporary, mass timber capability, proudly grown and processed right here in the Wide Bay,” he said. “There are so many sustainable, environmental, structural, aesthetic, safety, health and cost benefits to using engineered timber products in contemporary construction which this project will demonstrate. “This will be Australia’s first contemporary, engineered timber fire station and regional headquarters, fully supported by fire engineering experts.’’ The QFES Complex replacement project is due for completion in the second half of 2022. The project is highly innovative and considered an exemplar project by the University of Queensland Centre for Future Timber Structures (CFTS) who carried out a full 3D scan of the existing structure and have brought a range of intellectual property to the design team. Professor Carlo Prato, Head of the UQ School of Civil Engineering, emphasised how the project embodies the immense potential for success that the CFTS pursues. “I cannot think of a better example of the heights that industry and research institutions can achieve when they join forces to pursue their dreams of making sustainable buildings a reality. And similarly, I cannot think of a better symbol of the importance of having architects and engineers work together to the design of the future of sustainable built environment,” said Professor Prato. The Principal Architect for the project is Kim Baber of Baber Studio who said international benchmarks of similar facilities built using mass timber in Europe and North America were re-searched ahead of design getting underway. “It was important for us to understand what has worked well overseas with a number of similar use facilities already demonstrating mass timber as a sustainable and ideal building solution,” he said. “We then considered the brief from QFES and the current site limitations in order to design a replacement facility which will meet the very specific needs of the first responders and coordinators of emergency response for the region while protecting the heritage value. “It has been a collaborative and fascinating journey to date, and I am delighted to learn that building contracts are now in place and this showcase of innovation and sustainability will be constructed in the heart of Maryborough,” Mr Baber said. The complex will be built on the existing site on Lennox Street, which means firefighters will operate from an alternative location on Iindah Road during the construction phase.

Woolworths rolls out locally made paper carry bags to more states

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 24 min ago
Woolworths is now offering its customers in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia a locally made paper carry bag as it progressively onshores manufacturing in support of local industry and jobs. Source: Timberbiz Woolworths has partnered with family-owned Australian manufacturer Detpak in a multi-million-dollar deal to produce the locally made bags, which first launched in South Australia and Northern Territory late last year. The move represents a significant investment in local manufacturing, which will create around 25 new Australian jobs and contribute to broader efforts to grow Australia’s local production capacity across industries. The Australian made paper bags, which use 70% recycled paper are available for purchase in more than 400 Woolworths stores across Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. The progressive rollout will see the bags available in all states by the end of the year. While almost all customers are now bringing their own reusable bags, we know unplanned shops still present a challenge from time to time. “Last year we introduced the option of a paper bag, which can be recycled at home, and the feedback from customers has been positive,” Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, Natalie Davis said. “As paper bags are now a permanent part of our range, we’re working to support new Australian jobs in partnership with local manufacturer Detpak. “Our proudly Australian made bags are the result of Detpak’s hard work to build the local capacity needed to supply hundreds of our stores across the country.” Woolworths’ paper shopping bags were first launched in June 2020 in response to customer demand for a paper carry bag option. The supermarket has been working with Detpak to plan and grow local capacity since early 2020 to produce the paper bags at scale in Australia and support a transition to a 100% Australian made line nationally. All paper used in the bag is sourced responsibly and is certified by PEFC, with all new paper coming from plantations to give customers confidence their purchase supports sustainable forest management.

Comments open for Australian Standard for Chain of Custody forest and tree product

Australian timber industry news - 12 hours 25 min ago
Public comment is being sought on a revised draft for the Australian Standard for Chain of Custody for Forest and Tree based Products – AS 4707. Source: Timberbiz The Australian Standard, along with the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708) was developed by Responsible Wood and are key components of the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme (RWCS). AS / NZS 4707 underpins the endorsement of the PEFC Chain of Custody of Forest and Tree Based Products certification scheme operating in Australia. “The Responsible Wood Certification Scheme is recognised as a world leading certification scheme for natural and plantation forests,” said the Chairman of the Standard Reference Committee, Peter Zed said. “The committee includes a broad range of organisations in Australia involved in forest management, forest research, auditing, community, environmental, indigenous and labour unions. “These organisations are keen to get public feedback on how the revised Standard can be further improved.” The committee invites public comment on the draft standard. Comments should be submitted by 5pm AEST, Friday 25 June 2021, preferably using the submission form available from Responsible Wood. The review process is being undertaken in accordance with Standards Australia procedures, Responsible Wood is accredited as a Standards Development Organisation (SDO) and is accredited to develop Australian Standards in accordance with the standards development procedures. The Responsible Wood Certification Scheme, of which AS 4707 is a key component, is accredited by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is the world’s largest certification system for sustainable forest management. The Standard Reference Committee has sought to ensure that the revised standard (AS 4707) continues to be consistent with PEFC endorsement requirements. The draft Standard and the submission form can be downloaded from the Responsible Wood website.  


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by Dr. Radut