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Ins and outs of investing in UK forestry

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:34
Whether investing in the UK or overseas, forestry and timberland can be an attractive addition to a pension fund portfolio. So what should trustees be aware of before branching out into this asset class? Source: Pensions-Expert UK UK timber and forestry opportunities may be few and far between, and schemes will often look overseas for exposure to these asset classes. However, growing demand for UK housing has prompted a rise in timber consumption during recent years. A number of local authority pension schemes, including the Suffolk Pension Fund, have exposure to forestry and timberland, either in the UK or abroad. Some corporate schemes have also put down roots in this sector. The £31bn main section of the RBS Group Pension Fund has a 0.3% allocation to forestry and timber, while the £2.8bn SLC section of the Magnox Electric Group within the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme has a £42m investment in a unitised forestry fund, comprising woodlands located in northern England and Scotland. But forestry is not necessarily limited to the larger schemes. The £91.8m Plymouth and South West Co-operative Society Employees’ Superannuation Fund, for example, has a 1.8% exposure to this asset class. Diversification questions to be asked Edward Daniels, director at FIM Services, provider of sustainable forestry and renewable energy investments, noted: “Forestry is considered a good investment for investment institutions… as it provides excellent portfolio diversification.” However, Ajeet Manjrekar, co-head of P-Solve, said: “With limited global supply, building a well-diversified portfolio across the major timber geographies at an attractive yield is challenging today.” He said that, in addition, “this requires a manager of significant scale, and in practice there are relatively few providers who can do this effectively”. But Daniels has seen “more and more interest in the UK forestry market from institutional investors, as they see the risk-reward ratio… as being significantly better than other mainstream asset classes”. He highlighted the fact that UK forestry returns are not correlated to other asset classes, and are positively correlated to inflation, therefore protecting real returns. According to FIM, an increase in housing starts, which refers to the number of new residential construction projects that have begun during any particular month, has resulted in the continued rise in timber consumption in the UK. Nevertheless, Daniels admits that “one of the constraints that have prevented more institutions in investing in UK forestry is the size of the market, which is circa £150m per annum”. He said: “It is rare to see a large portfolio of forestry properties come to the market,” and the alternative is to invest in the overseas forestry market, “which carries exchange rate risk”. Simon Cohen, chief investment officer at professional trustee company Dalriada Trustees, said: “Liquidity is one of the issues” trustees should explore prior to investing in asset classes such as forestry. He also reminded trustees to make sure they do all their due diligence before committing to a timber or forestry fund. Cohen said smaller-budget schemes may “not want to have too much exposure to this particular asset class… given that it’s not easily accessible”. Olivier Lebleu is head of international distribution at OM Asset Management, which owns Campbell Global, a firm that acquires and manages timberland for investors. Lebleu said the main things drawing pension schemes to timber “are the consistency of the income distribution” and “the diversification that the returns bring to the overall portfolio”. “As trees grow, they only become more valuable,” said Lebleu. If there is a housing recession, for example, and “you don’t need to sell as many logs as you did before… as long as you haven’t borrowed against your property and you have no debt to service, you could just let the trees grow,” said Lebleu. “Over time, as they get more valuable and the market recovers, you’ll effectively have a more valuable asset to sell into a better market. That characteristic of being able to let the asset grow… means that there’s very little volatility,” he said. Manjrekar agreed timberland can be attractive but cautioned: “Timberland investments are conceptually attractive for institutional investors. However, they typically involve locking up capital for extended periods of time.”

Ins and outs of investing in UK forestry

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:34
Whether investing in the UK or overseas, forestry and timberland can be an attractive addition to a pension fund portfolio. So what should trustees be aware of before branching out into this asset class? Source: Pensions-Expert UK UK timber and forestry opportunities may be few and far between, and schemes will often look overseas for exposure to these asset classes. However, growing demand for UK housing has prompted a rise in timber consumption during recent years. A number of local authority pension schemes, including the Suffolk Pension Fund, have exposure to forestry and timberland, either in the UK or abroad. Some corporate schemes have also put down roots in this sector. The £31bn main section of the RBS Group Pension Fund has a 0.3% allocation to forestry and timber, while the £2.8bn SLC section of the Magnox Electric Group within the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme has a £42m investment in a unitised forestry fund, comprising woodlands located in northern England and Scotland. But forestry is not necessarily limited to the larger schemes. The £91.8m Plymouth and South West Co-operative Society Employees’ Superannuation Fund, for example, has a 1.8% exposure to this asset class. Diversification questions to be asked Edward Daniels, director at FIM Services, provider of sustainable forestry and renewable energy investments, noted: “Forestry is considered a good investment for investment institutions… as it provides excellent portfolio diversification.” However, Ajeet Manjrekar, co-head of P-Solve, said: “With limited global supply, building a well-diversified portfolio across the major timber geographies at an attractive yield is challenging today.” He said that, in addition, “this requires a manager of significant scale, and in practice there are relatively few providers who can do this effectively”. But Daniels has seen “more and more interest in the UK forestry market from institutional investors, as they see the risk-reward ratio… as being significantly better than other mainstream asset classes”. He highlighted the fact that UK forestry returns are not correlated to other asset classes, and are positively correlated to inflation, therefore protecting real returns. According to FIM, an increase in housing starts, which refers to the number of new residential construction projects that have begun during any particular month, has resulted in the continued rise in timber consumption in the UK. Nevertheless, Daniels admits that “one of the constraints that have prevented more institutions in investing in UK forestry is the size of the market, which is circa £150m per annum”. He said: “It is rare to see a large portfolio of forestry properties come to the market,” and the alternative is to invest in the overseas forestry market, “which carries exchange rate risk”. Simon Cohen, chief investment officer at professional trustee company Dalriada Trustees, said: “Liquidity is one of the issues” trustees should explore prior to investing in asset classes such as forestry. He also reminded trustees to make sure they do all their due diligence before committing to a timber or forestry fund. Cohen said smaller-budget schemes may “not want to have too much exposure to this particular asset class… given that it’s not easily accessible”. Olivier Lebleu is head of international distribution at OM Asset Management, which owns Campbell Global, a firm that acquires and manages timberland for investors. Lebleu said the main things drawing pension schemes to timber “are the consistency of the income distribution” and “the diversification that the returns bring to the overall portfolio”. “As trees grow, they only become more valuable,” said Lebleu. If there is a housing recession, for example, and “you don’t need to sell as many logs as you did before… as long as you haven’t borrowed against your property and you have no debt to service, you could just let the trees grow,” said Lebleu. “Over time, as they get more valuable and the market recovers, you’ll effectively have a more valuable asset to sell into a better market. That characteristic of being able to let the asset grow… means that there’s very little volatility,” he said. Manjrekar agreed timberland can be attractive but cautioned: “Timberland investments are conceptually attractive for institutional investors. However, they typically involve locking up capital for extended periods of time.”

Tenon selling last remaining asset

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:33
New Zealand wood products company Tenon is facing the possible sale of its last remaining asset and is winding up its business. Source: Radio New Zealand The company has confirmed that it is now looking to sell its New Zealand-based Clearwood operation, after just completing the sale of its North American business. Tenon said it was talking exclusively to one party with the aim of signing a binding sale and purchase agreement for the Clearwood business, subject to certain conditions. “If Clearwood is sold, Tenon will have no remaining operational assets,” the company said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange. “Accordingly, the company would then be liquidated, with all surplus cash returned to shareholders.” Tenon is the last remnant of Fletcher Forests, which was created by the break up of the Fletcher Challenge industrial empire in the 1990s. It is controlled by another Fletcher’s offshoot, Rubicon. It has a sawmill and processing plant in Taupo, turning out high grade radiata pine products. Tenon said advisory firm Grant Samuel will do an updated independent report for shareholders once a final agreement has been reached. The New Zealand business had previously been valued between NZ$91 milliom and NZ$107m. Tenon also confirmed it has paid out the proceeds of the sale of its North American business, with US$71m being returned to shareholders through a cancellation of one out of every two shares held and returning $2.20 per cancelled share.

Champion chopper gearing up for Easter show

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:33
Champion woodchopper Chris Owen can notch another award into his axe handle after he swept the votes for December’s Sportsperson of the Month Award. Source: The Daily Examiner In fine form at the Canterbury A&P Show in New Zealand, Mr Owen was crowned the 2016 Les Gilsenan Memorial 350mm standing block world champion, demolishing his block of timber in 40 seconds. While this was the fifth year in a row that he has competed at the world titles, including the last three as captain of the NSW team, this win is his maiden world title. Mr Owen said winning the title came as a surprise, considering the competition he was up against. “I had a feeling I’d go close, but I didn’t think I would do it,” he said. “I was cutting quite well all show. The bloke who came second, Shane Jordan, I knew he would be hard to beat, so it was good to get that win.” Owen said the win in New Zealand would help drive him for future chopping competitions. “I’ll be in Brunswick Heads in the next couple of weeks, which is my next competition,” he said. “I’m actually supplying the timber for that event, which should give me a bit of an advantage because I know the timber and I can get some blocks to train on and try out my gear.” With all agricultural shows from now leading into the all important Sydney Royal Easter Show in April, Mr Owen said it was important to get his preparation right to be any chance at the big event. “I’ve got three to four months of solid training and chops every weekend leading into Sydney, and the major carnivals are about to start leading in to Sydney,” he said. “There’s a bit of a build up and it gives you an idea of what you’re coming up against. Australia probably has 75% of the top choppers in the world, and you get a lot of strong competition around here that pushes you along. “You know were you’re at every weekend, but this win in New Zealand has helped the confidence, definitely. The bloke I beat cut second at the world title in Sydney last year, so knowing I’m up there is a huge confidence boost.” After getting involved in the sport through his grandfather and brother 15 years ago, Mr Owen said he has no intention of giving up any time soon. “It’s a pretty good sort of bunch of people who are in it, and it’s something you can do right up until you get into the veteran class,” he said. “With footy you see blokes retiring when they’re 30 through injury, but in woodchopping it’s rare for an accident to happen, and it keeps you fit and going.”

Tenon selling last remaining asset

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:33
New Zealand wood products company Tenon is facing the possible sale of its last remaining asset and is winding up its business. Source: Radio New Zealand The company has confirmed that it is now looking to sell its New Zealand-based Clearwood operation, after just completing the sale of its North American business. Tenon said it was talking exclusively to one party with the aim of signing a binding sale and purchase agreement for the Clearwood business, subject to certain conditions. “If Clearwood is sold, Tenon will have no remaining operational assets,” the company said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange. “Accordingly, the company would then be liquidated, with all surplus cash returned to shareholders.” Tenon is the last remnant of Fletcher Forests, which was created by the break up of the Fletcher Challenge industrial empire in the 1990s. It is controlled by another Fletcher’s offshoot, Rubicon. It has a sawmill and processing plant in Taupo, turning out high grade radiata pine products. Tenon said advisory firm Grant Samuel will do an updated independent report for shareholders once a final agreement has been reached. The New Zealand business had previously been valued between NZ$91 milliom and NZ$107m. Tenon also confirmed it has paid out the proceeds of the sale of its North American business, with US$71m being returned to shareholders through a cancellation of one out of every two shares held and returning $2.20 per cancelled share.

Champion chopper gearing up for Easter show

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:33
Champion woodchopper Chris Owen can notch another award into his axe handle after he swept the votes for December’s Sportsperson of the Month Award. Source: The Daily Examiner In fine form at the Canterbury A&P Show in New Zealand, Mr Owen was crowned the 2016 Les Gilsenan Memorial 350mm standing block world champion, demolishing his block of timber in 40 seconds. While this was the fifth year in a row that he has competed at the world titles, including the last three as captain of the NSW team, this win is his maiden world title. Mr Owen said winning the title came as a surprise, considering the competition he was up against. “I had a feeling I’d go close, but I didn’t think I would do it,” he said. “I was cutting quite well all show. The bloke who came second, Shane Jordan, I knew he would be hard to beat, so it was good to get that win.” Owen said the win in New Zealand would help drive him for future chopping competitions. “I’ll be in Brunswick Heads in the next couple of weeks, which is my next competition,” he said. “I’m actually supplying the timber for that event, which should give me a bit of an advantage because I know the timber and I can get some blocks to train on and try out my gear.” With all agricultural shows from now leading into the all important Sydney Royal Easter Show in April, Mr Owen said it was important to get his preparation right to be any chance at the big event. “I’ve got three to four months of solid training and chops every weekend leading into Sydney, and the major carnivals are about to start leading in to Sydney,” he said. “There’s a bit of a build up and it gives you an idea of what you’re coming up against. Australia probably has 75% of the top choppers in the world, and you get a lot of strong competition around here that pushes you along. “You know were you’re at every weekend, but this win in New Zealand has helped the confidence, definitely. The bloke I beat cut second at the world title in Sydney last year, so knowing I’m up there is a huge confidence boost.” After getting involved in the sport through his grandfather and brother 15 years ago, Mr Owen said he has no intention of giving up any time soon. “It’s a pretty good sort of bunch of people who are in it, and it’s something you can do right up until you get into the veteran class,” he said. “With footy you see blokes retiring when they’re 30 through injury, but in woodchopping it’s rare for an accident to happen, and it keeps you fit and going.”

Investigation why NZ sawmill workers get $3 per hour

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:30
New Zealand’s Immigration Minister has ordered an urgent report into specific purpose work visas. Source: Newshub It was revealed that four Indonesian welders at Napier Pine sawmill were receiving around NZ$3 an hour. The Opposition says the workers have been exploited. The men, who were here on specific purpose visas, said they were paid just over NZ$3 an hour for nine months by their Indonesian employer. “This is one of the most egregious forms of migrant exploitation we’ve seen in a while,” Labour immigration spokesperson Ian Lees-Galloway said. “It is the sort of thing we’re seeing a lot of in New Zealand.” The men were sent to New Zealand to install specialised machinery, and the Minister wants answers about their treatment. “I have expressed my disappointment that in the wake of a previous case where I made instructions very clear to them [Immigration NZ] that three months was the maximum duration for a special purpose visa, that doesn’t appear to be the case, so I am disappointed,” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said. That previous case involved Chinese workers a union alleges were underpaid while working on Kiwirail locomotives. Kiwirail has rejected the union claims, and the case is ongoing. For this type of work, the visa expires after three months. Mr Woodhouse says he can’t understand why that duration was extended. “I’ve asked Immigration New Zealand to give me a report in January about the number of special purpose visas that have been issued basically in breach of the instructions that I’ve given them,” he said. However Mr Lees-Galloway says Mr Woodhouse needs to take more responsibility. “It’s all very well for the minister to say he has asked Immigration New Zealand to take this more seriously; it’s actually his job to make sure Immigration New Zealand has the resources to enforce the law properly,” Mr Lees-Galloway said. But the Minister says he expects answers from his officials and doesn’t think it’s a widespread problem.

Investigation why NZ sawmill workers get $3 per hour

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:30
New Zealand’s Immigration Minister has ordered an urgent report into specific purpose work visas. Source: Newshub It was revealed that four Indonesian welders at Napier Pine sawmill were receiving around NZ$3 an hour. The Opposition says the workers have been exploited. The men, who were here on specific purpose visas, said they were paid just over NZ$3 an hour for nine months by their Indonesian employer. “This is one of the most egregious forms of migrant exploitation we’ve seen in a while,” Labour immigration spokesperson Ian Lees-Galloway said. “It is the sort of thing we’re seeing a lot of in New Zealand.” The men were sent to New Zealand to install specialised machinery, and the Minister wants answers about their treatment. “I have expressed my disappointment that in the wake of a previous case where I made instructions very clear to them [Immigration NZ] that three months was the maximum duration for a special purpose visa, that doesn’t appear to be the case, so I am disappointed,” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said. That previous case involved Chinese workers a union alleges were underpaid while working on Kiwirail locomotives. Kiwirail has rejected the union claims, and the case is ongoing. For this type of work, the visa expires after three months. Mr Woodhouse says he can’t understand why that duration was extended. “I’ve asked Immigration New Zealand to give me a report in January about the number of special purpose visas that have been issued basically in breach of the instructions that I’ve given them,” he said. However Mr Lees-Galloway says Mr Woodhouse needs to take more responsibility. “It’s all very well for the minister to say he has asked Immigration New Zealand to take this more seriously; it’s actually his job to make sure Immigration New Zealand has the resources to enforce the law properly,” Mr Lees-Galloway said. But the Minister says he expects answers from his officials and doesn’t think it’s a widespread problem.

Pine clearing in Canberra

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:27
Almost 14 years on from the worst bushfires in the ACT’s history, pine clearing is under way in an effort to prevent such devastation ever happening again. Source: ABC News The inquiry into the 2003 fires found more should have been done to reduce fuel loads around Canberra, including more controlled burning. But one of the difficulties with controlled burns as a preventative method is the specific times and conditions needed to make sure they are done safely and with minimal impact on surrounding residents. “The first thing we wanted to do was to burn, but with your erosion issues relating to this being a water catchment that presented a risk in itself,” ACT Parks Fire Management Officer, Adam Leavesley, said. “So [the clearing has] been years in planning, the trials have just gone ahead in the last financial year to give us a good idea of how to approach the rest of it.” Mr Leavesley, said many pines had grown back since 2003 and posed a significant threat because of their high fire danger. “This is exactly what we need to get rid of, these tiny pine trees that are quite tall and very thin,” he said. “They’re not going to be good for anything and they’re a major issue in terms of the fuel load. “The fire, if it burns through [this forest] even on a relatively low fire danger day, is likely to burn right to the top of the canopy and be very, very difficult to control.” ACT Parks and Conservation has developed a way to clear nearby pine forests with heavy machinery instead of having to burn them. “Up here the slopes are very steep and we can’t get in to all of the slopes with all the different types of machines that might be useful for the job,” Mr Leavesley said. “So in some places where there’s not a lot of eucalypt and we don’t need to take a lot of care of retaining that in the landscape, the bulldozer’s the best thing to use. “Where there’s a lot of eucalypt the forestry mulching head is excellent … and on the really steep slopes where none of those machines can go they’re being hand-felled.” The forest sits in the middle of Canberra’s drinking water catchment and any erosion caused by felling the pines could have an impact. However Mr Leavesley said through trials they had developed a way to safely clear the trees. “The main works [should] done in the next two to three-year period but then there’ll be return [work] all the time,” he said. Mr Leavesley said there was almost 1000 hectares of land left to clear over the 10-year life of the clearing plan.

Pine clearing in Canberra

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:27
Almost 14 years on from the worst bushfires in the ACT’s history, pine clearing is under way in an effort to prevent such devastation ever happening again. Source: ABC News The inquiry into the 2003 fires found more should have been done to reduce fuel loads around Canberra, including more controlled burning. But one of the difficulties with controlled burns as a preventative method is the specific times and conditions needed to make sure they are done safely and with minimal impact on surrounding residents. “The first thing we wanted to do was to burn, but with your erosion issues relating to this being a water catchment that presented a risk in itself,” ACT Parks Fire Management Officer, Adam Leavesley, said. “So [the clearing has] been years in planning, the trials have just gone ahead in the last financial year to give us a good idea of how to approach the rest of it.” Mr Leavesley, said many pines had grown back since 2003 and posed a significant threat because of their high fire danger. “This is exactly what we need to get rid of, these tiny pine trees that are quite tall and very thin,” he said. “They’re not going to be good for anything and they’re a major issue in terms of the fuel load. “The fire, if it burns through [this forest] even on a relatively low fire danger day, is likely to burn right to the top of the canopy and be very, very difficult to control.” ACT Parks and Conservation has developed a way to clear nearby pine forests with heavy machinery instead of having to burn them. “Up here the slopes are very steep and we can’t get in to all of the slopes with all the different types of machines that might be useful for the job,” Mr Leavesley said. “So in some places where there’s not a lot of eucalypt and we don’t need to take a lot of care of retaining that in the landscape, the bulldozer’s the best thing to use. “Where there’s a lot of eucalypt the forestry mulching head is excellent … and on the really steep slopes where none of those machines can go they’re being hand-felled.” The forest sits in the middle of Canberra’s drinking water catchment and any erosion caused by felling the pines could have an impact. However Mr Leavesley said through trials they had developed a way to safely clear the trees. “The main works [should] done in the next two to three-year period but then there’ll be return [work] all the time,” he said. Mr Leavesley said there was almost 1000 hectares of land left to clear over the 10-year life of the clearing plan.

Bumper crop for Taranaki contractors

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:26
Taranaki’s logging contractors are gearing up to harvest a bumper crop over the next few years as trees planted more than two decades ago begin to mature. Source: Stuff NZ Many of the plots around Taranaki were planted in the ‘90s, with most taking between 25 and 30 years before they were ready to be cut. New Zealand Forestry regional manager Cam Eyre said there is around 19,000ha of Radiata pine in the Taranaki region, 80% of which was due to be harvested from 2015 for the next six or seven years. “It’s all over the place, down close to Whanganui, it will all come through New Plymouth’s port, and then out near Te Kuiti, out on the Forgotten World Highway all that wood from all over the place comes through Port Taranaki which is good,” he said. Port Taranaki has already seen an increase in logging exports coming through in the last year. A record volume of 357,000 JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard tonnage) was exported from the port in the 2015-16 financial year, an increase from the 209,000 JAS of the previous year, which resulted in an 80% increase in revenue for the port from its log business in the 2015-16 financial year. “Signs are good for that growth to continue,” Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said. “Our half-year throughput to 31 December is up a third on the same six months last year, and we expect trade could grow by as much as 10 per cent a year across the next four years.” Eyre organised a breakfast for about 150 forestry staff to remind them to look out for themselves and their work mates as they returned to work after the holiday period. “It’s a reminder to the boys about the risks that are involved with working in the forests and this is a really hot time for us, a lot of the fatalities that happen in the forest usually happen in those first few days when everyone goes back to work, so it’s a way of getting everyone together and really having a real health and safety focus when you start up,” Mr Eyre said. Safety breakfasts were not uncommon in the industry around the rest of the country but it was a new thing for Taranaki as they were usually organised by the big corporations that owned the forests. “Because all the wood in Taranaki is private, you might have had small gatherings but nothing like this so it was really good to see,” he said. “Most of the guys know each other so it’s good to see them chat and see what the other guys are up to as well.” Taranakipine chief executive Tom Boon said they were expecting a rise in the amount of product coming onto the market in the next few years from the plots planted in the 90s. “Those trees are maturing now and they’re ready to harvest, it’s kind of happening now and will continue for a long time as forest owners look to harvest those trees,” he said. While Taranakipine and other sawmills around the region would be buying some of the logs, there would be a lot of it that would be exported to Asia and the rest of the world and there was definitely a market willing to buy it, he said. “We can’t take them all,” Boon said. “The market is well beyond what Taranaki has got in terms of sawmilling, there’s a massive export market and that’s where a big proportion of those logs will go.” He said it was important to ensure there was adequate infrastructure available and the manpower in the region to deal with the increase. “The likes of Cam, they’re trying to get logging crews and trucks and roading and the port’s got to be able to handle them,” he said.

Bumper crop for Taranaki contractors

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:26
Taranaki’s logging contractors are gearing up to harvest a bumper crop over the next few years as trees planted more than two decades ago begin to mature. Source: Stuff NZ Many of the plots around Taranaki were planted in the ‘90s, with most taking between 25 and 30 years before they were ready to be cut. New Zealand Forestry regional manager Cam Eyre said there is around 19,000ha of Radiata pine in the Taranaki region, 80% of which was due to be harvested from 2015 for the next six or seven years. “It’s all over the place, down close to Whanganui, it will all come through New Plymouth’s port, and then out near Te Kuiti, out on the Forgotten World Highway all that wood from all over the place comes through Port Taranaki which is good,” he said. Port Taranaki has already seen an increase in logging exports coming through in the last year. A record volume of 357,000 JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard tonnage) was exported from the port in the 2015-16 financial year, an increase from the 209,000 JAS of the previous year, which resulted in an 80% increase in revenue for the port from its log business in the 2015-16 financial year. “Signs are good for that growth to continue,” Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said. “Our half-year throughput to 31 December is up a third on the same six months last year, and we expect trade could grow by as much as 10 per cent a year across the next four years.” Eyre organised a breakfast for about 150 forestry staff to remind them to look out for themselves and their work mates as they returned to work after the holiday period. “It’s a reminder to the boys about the risks that are involved with working in the forests and this is a really hot time for us, a lot of the fatalities that happen in the forest usually happen in those first few days when everyone goes back to work, so it’s a way of getting everyone together and really having a real health and safety focus when you start up,” Mr Eyre said. Safety breakfasts were not uncommon in the industry around the rest of the country but it was a new thing for Taranaki as they were usually organised by the big corporations that owned the forests. “Because all the wood in Taranaki is private, you might have had small gatherings but nothing like this so it was really good to see,” he said. “Most of the guys know each other so it’s good to see them chat and see what the other guys are up to as well.” Taranakipine chief executive Tom Boon said they were expecting a rise in the amount of product coming onto the market in the next few years from the plots planted in the 90s. “Those trees are maturing now and they’re ready to harvest, it’s kind of happening now and will continue for a long time as forest owners look to harvest those trees,” he said. While Taranakipine and other sawmills around the region would be buying some of the logs, there would be a lot of it that would be exported to Asia and the rest of the world and there was definitely a market willing to buy it, he said. “We can’t take them all,” Boon said. “The market is well beyond what Taranaki has got in terms of sawmilling, there’s a massive export market and that’s where a big proportion of those logs will go.” He said it was important to ensure there was adequate infrastructure available and the manpower in the region to deal with the increase. “The likes of Cam, they’re trying to get logging crews and trucks and roading and the port’s got to be able to handle them,” he said.

A koala conundrum for Victoria

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:25
Timber plantation operators in Victoria will face strict new rules aimed at stopping koalas from being killed or injured during harvest. Source: ABC News Increasing numbers of koalas have sought refuge in blue gum plantations around Portland, in the state’s south-west, as their natural habitat has dwindled. Voluntary guidelines for plantation operators were introduced in 2012 to protect the furry marsupials. But Victoria’s Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the number of koala deaths had been under reported by plantations and mandatory minimum standards would come into effect by April. “They will be mandated to report any injuries and any deaths of koalas and if they fail to do that of course there are penalties that will come into play,” she said. “So we believe that this will actually lead to improved behaviours of the industry.” Plantation operators will be compelled to carry out population surveys, use spotters to keep watch for koalas and retain a minimum number of trees. Ross Hampton, chief executive of the Australian Forest Products Association, said the industry supported the new rules but was concerned about forcing koala surveys to be carried out 12 months before harvest. “It doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense to us since koalas obviously move around, where they are 12 months before an operation may not be where they are when it really matters,” he said. But he denied there was under reporting of koala deaths and injuries. “I think what she [Ms D’Ambrosio] is referring to there is some history of three, four, five years ago which was a time when the industry was coming to terms with the fact that a large number of koalas were moving into these previously cleared areas,” Mr Hampton said. The new regime will be reviewed in a year. Local conservationists have urged the Government to take greater action to address an overpopulation of koalas in the region. Doug Phillips from the Portland Field Naturalists Club said the number of koalas had “exploded” and native trees were dying. “Within say a 150-kilometre radius of Portland our estimates range between 200,000 and 400,000 animals. “We think that already there has been thousands of trees lost in the region and that will require a major revegetation effort.” Tracey Wilson, who runs a government-approved wildlife shelter, said a range of measures must be considered to reduce koala numbers, including sterilisation and tree replanting. “If we leave it for another five years, we’re going to have koalas sitting in dead trees along the side of the road everywhere,” she said. Ms Wilson said caring for koalas injured in blue gum plantations, as well as car and dog attacks, had become a relentless task. At least 30 koalas were brought to the shelter last month, she said. “On December 22, my vet saw eight koalas in one day,” Ms Wilson said. Mr Hampton urged the State Government to consider relocating koalas to other less populated areas. “The regionalisation of koalas populations is actually not just an issue in Victoria, it’s a national issue,” he said. “The irony of it is that just across the border in South Australia for example, when koalas are found and they need to be moved they’re able to be moved … and this isn’t the case in Victoria.”

A koala conundrum for Victoria

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:25
Timber plantation operators in Victoria will face strict new rules aimed at stopping koalas from being killed or injured during harvest. Source: ABC News Increasing numbers of koalas have sought refuge in blue gum plantations around Portland, in the state’s south-west, as their natural habitat has dwindled. Voluntary guidelines for plantation operators were introduced in 2012 to protect the furry marsupials. But Victoria’s Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the number of koala deaths had been under reported by plantations and mandatory minimum standards would come into effect by April. “They will be mandated to report any injuries and any deaths of koalas and if they fail to do that of course there are penalties that will come into play,” she said. “So we believe that this will actually lead to improved behaviours of the industry.” Plantation operators will be compelled to carry out population surveys, use spotters to keep watch for koalas and retain a minimum number of trees. Ross Hampton, chief executive of the Australian Forest Products Association, said the industry supported the new rules but was concerned about forcing koala surveys to be carried out 12 months before harvest. “It doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense to us since koalas obviously move around, where they are 12 months before an operation may not be where they are when it really matters,” he said. But he denied there was under reporting of koala deaths and injuries. “I think what she [Ms D’Ambrosio] is referring to there is some history of three, four, five years ago which was a time when the industry was coming to terms with the fact that a large number of koalas were moving into these previously cleared areas,” Mr Hampton said. The new regime will be reviewed in a year. Local conservationists have urged the Government to take greater action to address an overpopulation of koalas in the region. Doug Phillips from the Portland Field Naturalists Club said the number of koalas had “exploded” and native trees were dying. “Within say a 150-kilometre radius of Portland our estimates range between 200,000 and 400,000 animals. “We think that already there has been thousands of trees lost in the region and that will require a major revegetation effort.” Tracey Wilson, who runs a government-approved wildlife shelter, said a range of measures must be considered to reduce koala numbers, including sterilisation and tree replanting. “If we leave it for another five years, we’re going to have koalas sitting in dead trees along the side of the road everywhere,” she said. Ms Wilson said caring for koalas injured in blue gum plantations, as well as car and dog attacks, had become a relentless task. At least 30 koalas were brought to the shelter last month, she said. “On December 22, my vet saw eight koalas in one day,” Ms Wilson said. Mr Hampton urged the State Government to consider relocating koalas to other less populated areas. “The regionalisation of koalas populations is actually not just an issue in Victoria, it’s a national issue,” he said. “The irony of it is that just across the border in South Australia for example, when koalas are found and they need to be moved they’re able to be moved … and this isn’t the case in Victoria.”

Ngawha mill not off the cards

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:24
Organisations involved with securing a large-scale timber-processing plant in Ngawha, New Zealand say it isn’t off the cards despite reports. Source: Stuff NZ Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw says everyone has missed the point following the release of a pre-feasibility report into the viability of a proposed mechanical pulp and sawmill in an industrial park at Ngawha. “The whole thing is not being cancelled until we have greater certainty. That methodology is still being consulted on and may change, no decision has been made to stop a mill, the next stage has purely been put on hold until this matter is clarified,” he said. The integrated pulp and sawmill proposed an estimated 300-400 jobs and sales of more than NZ$280 million per annum. The report identified that a standalone mechanical pulp mill could be feasible and that a full feasibility study will not be undertaken at this time. The Electricity Authority’s Transmission Pricing Methodology Review proposes increases to transmission costs that could not only put the mill in jeopardy but Top Energy’s planned expansion of its geothermal power generation plant at Ngawha, as part of the industrial park. Mr Shaw says the issue will be revisited once the consultation process has closed and that in order for the project to gain investors there needed to be certainty around future costs. The pre-feasibility study was carried out by independent agency Indufor on behalf of Northland Inc, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Primary Industries. Kaikohe business owner and Business Association Chair Mark Anderson says Northland Inc should be funding the next level report for the mill feasibility. “If anyone is going to be pushing the barrow it should be them, everyone else has day jobs, and Top Energy is not a property developer,” he said. He says Northland Inc (a subsidiary of Northland Regional Council) has been asked numerous times to attend working group meetings for the industrial park but declined the offer. Northland Inc chief executive David Wilson says all they were doing is investigating an opportunity. “The report says it’s possible but there are issues that any perspective investor would be considering. We could address that and have further consultation,” he said. While Northland Inc made a submission in regards to proposed increases of transmission costs in July it did not specifically mention impacts to the mill project. The consultation process for the Transmission Pricing Methodology Consultation closes on February 24 2017.

VicForests’ new biodiversity conservation research manager

Australian timber industry news - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:24
Tim McBride, wildlife conservation expert, has recently joined VicForests as the new Biodiversity Conservation Research Manager. Source: Timberbiz Mr McBride has been working in the forestry industry for more than 22 years with a strong focus in forest ecology and wildlife conservation. He is looking forward to using his knowledge to further develop conservation plans that balance the protection of the environment and animals with sustainable forestry. “I’m looking to create more flexible plans to meet the needs of both the native timber industry and the protection of species and their habitat,” he said “VicForests are committed to ensuring sustainability. They aim for long-term environmental, economic and industry-wide sustainability and I want to be a part of that. “In my role, I hope to further improve existing conservation plans and work with industry stakeholders to help change some perceptions other organisations have of VicForests.” Mr McBride is looking forward to contributing towards the many research projects that VicForests is involved with and work closely with the educational institutions leading them. “The results from the Leadbeater’s Possum surveys, Hollows Development project and Regrowth Retention Harvesting trials are very encouraging. “I have already began meeting with fellow academics and experts in this field and hope to build long-term relationships and share knowledge and learnings with them during my time here. “I am planning on being with VicForests for a long time,” he said. Mr McBride has joined VicForests after many years researching forest ecology and wildlife conservation across the west coast of America working predominantly with Port Blakely Tree Farms and Hancock Natural Resource Group during his career. He recently moved to Victoria with his Australian wife to develop his skills in a new environment. “I spent a lot of time researching amphibians by looking into drivers of population trends and what their preferred habitat looks like,” he said. “I hope to help VicForests better understand the habitat requirements of Victoria’s threatened species including possums, gliders and owls as well as other lesser knowns species such as frogs and toads. “I also hope to gain a deeper understanding of Australian eco-systems and learn more about Victoria’s native species,” he said. Mr McBride will manage the Research and Development across all regions VicForests operates in.

Ngawha mill not off the cards

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:24
Organisations involved with securing a large-scale timber-processing plant in Ngawha, New Zealand say it isn’t off the cards despite reports. Source: Stuff NZ Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw says everyone has missed the point following the release of a pre-feasibility report into the viability of a proposed mechanical pulp and sawmill in an industrial park at Ngawha. “The whole thing is not being cancelled until we have greater certainty. That methodology is still being consulted on and may change, no decision has been made to stop a mill, the next stage has purely been put on hold until this matter is clarified,” he said. The integrated pulp and sawmill proposed an estimated 300-400 jobs and sales of more than NZ$280 million per annum. The report identified that a standalone mechanical pulp mill could be feasible and that a full feasibility study will not be undertaken at this time. The Electricity Authority’s Transmission Pricing Methodology Review proposes increases to transmission costs that could not only put the mill in jeopardy but Top Energy’s planned expansion of its geothermal power generation plant at Ngawha, as part of the industrial park. Mr Shaw says the issue will be revisited once the consultation process has closed and that in order for the project to gain investors there needed to be certainty around future costs. The pre-feasibility study was carried out by independent agency Indufor on behalf of Northland Inc, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Primary Industries. Kaikohe business owner and Business Association Chair Mark Anderson says Northland Inc should be funding the next level report for the mill feasibility. “If anyone is going to be pushing the barrow it should be them, everyone else has day jobs, and Top Energy is not a property developer,” he said. He says Northland Inc (a subsidiary of Northland Regional Council) has been asked numerous times to attend working group meetings for the industrial park but declined the offer. Northland Inc chief executive David Wilson says all they were doing is investigating an opportunity. “The report says it’s possible but there are issues that any perspective investor would be considering. We could address that and have further consultation,” he said. While Northland Inc made a submission in regards to proposed increases of transmission costs in July it did not specifically mention impacts to the mill project. The consultation process for the Transmission Pricing Methodology Consultation closes on February 24 2017.

VicForests’ new biodiversity conservation research manager

GFIS - Do, 12/01/2017 - 00:24
Tim McBride, wildlife conservation expert, has recently joined VicForests as the new Biodiversity Conservation Research Manager. Source: Timberbiz Mr McBride has been working in the forestry industry for more than 22 years with a strong focus in forest ecology and wildlife conservation. He is looking forward to using his knowledge to further develop conservation plans that balance the protection of the environment and animals with sustainable forestry. “I’m looking to create more flexible plans to meet the needs of both the native timber industry and the protection of species and their habitat,” he said “VicForests are committed to ensuring sustainability. They aim for long-term environmental, economic and industry-wide sustainability and I want to be a part of that. “In my role, I hope to further improve existing conservation plans and work with industry stakeholders to help change some perceptions other organisations have of VicForests.” Mr McBride is looking forward to contributing towards the many research projects that VicForests is involved with and work closely with the educational institutions leading them. “The results from the Leadbeater’s Possum surveys, Hollows Development project and Regrowth Retention Harvesting trials are very encouraging. “I have already began meeting with fellow academics and experts in this field and hope to build long-term relationships and share knowledge and learnings with them during my time here. “I am planning on being with VicForests for a long time,” he said. Mr McBride has joined VicForests after many years researching forest ecology and wildlife conservation across the west coast of America working predominantly with Port Blakely Tree Farms and Hancock Natural Resource Group during his career. He recently moved to Victoria with his Australian wife to develop his skills in a new environment. “I spent a lot of time researching amphibians by looking into drivers of population trends and what their preferred habitat looks like,” he said. “I hope to help VicForests better understand the habitat requirements of Victoria’s threatened species including possums, gliders and owls as well as other lesser knowns species such as frogs and toads. “I also hope to gain a deeper understanding of Australian eco-systems and learn more about Victoria’s native species,” he said. Mr McBride will manage the Research and Development across all regions VicForests operates in.

Scientists discover world's largest tropical peatland in remote Congo swamps

GFIS - Mi, 11/01/2017 - 19:28
A vast peatland in the Congo Basin has been mapped for the first time, revealing it to be the largest in the tropics. The new study found that the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo Basin, which were unknown to exist five years ago, cover 145,500 square kilometres -- an area larger than England. They lock in 30 billion tonnes of carbon making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth.

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by Dr. Radut