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Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago

UK winter storms mean tree losses; more diverse species are needed

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:02
As the extent of the damage from winter storms on trees across Great Britain is revealed for the first time, woodland owners have been encouraged to plant and manage more diverse and resilient forests of varying ages and species in the face of climate change. Source: Timberbiz Updated Forest Research assessments released show almost 12,750 hectares of tree loss was caused by storms last winter in Great Britain, with approximately 3,350 hectares of damage recorded in England. The damage overall is relatively modest equating to around 0.2% of England’s tree cover and will not impact on tree planting targets. Over 90% of trees which fall as a result of storm damage will be replanted, meaning only a small percent of forest is actually lost in the long term where it is not possible to restock. In light of the findings, Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, has called for landowners and forest managers to consider planting more diverse and resilient tree species and better designed woodlands in the face of a changing climate. Their long-term prosperity will depend on their resilience to threats caused by climate change, such as stronger gales, drought, emerging pests and diseases, evolving weather patterns and more frequent, severe weather events. He said the woodlands of the future need to be planted and managed differently if they are to not only survive but thrive in the future. The tree loss figures were made up of assessments of the damage using a combination of satellite imaging techniques and machine learning. An additional citizen science project was then carried out, where foresters, land managers and landowners could report the damage on the ground. This project, combined with improvements to the machine learning algorithms used within the satellite data and mapping work, allowed smaller areas of damage (less than 0.5ha) to be captured. This significantly improved the accuracy of the damage assessment.

Wooden TreeCard raises $23M for its program

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:02
TreeCard, the provider of a wooden Mastercard debit card that channels profits from merchant surcharges into reforestation programs, has raised US$23 million in a funding round involving Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, World Fund and EQT, Seedcamp, Episode 1 and various angels. Source: finextra Eco-friendly search engine Ecosia bought a 20% stake in TreeCard in 2020 for £1 million. The startup raised a further US$5.1 million in February last year ahead of its launch in the UK. The wooden debit card comes with an app that lets users track spending, split bills with friends and monitor how many trees have been planted as a result of user spending. Operating over the Mastercard network and using back-end card processing services from Synapse, TreeCard acts as a fully-fledged debit account, able to receive top-up from a user’s regular bank account, with support for chip and PIN, contactless transactions and mobile payments. TreeCard makes money from the interchange and promises to invest 80% of profits into sustainable causes, including reforestation in partnership with Ecosia. The company claims to have planted 200,000 trees since its launch. The new funding comes as the company gears up to enter the US market, where it has a waitlist of 250,000 people.

Canadian Women in Forestry summit

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 01:01
Women represented just 17% of the forestry labour force in 2016 in Canada but representation is gradually increasing as key industry players lead the change on gender equity. Source: Timberbiz Inspired by their ongoing efforts to dismantle the barriers that prevent or discourage women and under-represented people from entering and advancing in the industry, Canadian Forest Industries, Pulp & Paper Canada, Canadian Biomass and Opérations Forestières et de Scierie are again hosting a digital day of discussion around gender and diversity in the forest sector. The event will be held on 7 March 2023 and will feature some of the biggest influencers in the Canadian forest products sector as well as women who have trailblazed in their careers. The Women in Forestry Virtual Summit offers a live panel discussion, presentations and on-demand sessions where speakers will explore the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce, share career advice and real-life experiences, recommend actions companies can take to recruit female employees and advance them to leadership positions, and much more. Speakers are expected to cover the following themes: The executive perspective on gender and diversity programs Balancing work and family life Hearing from the ally Indigenous inclusion and leadership Effective (and ineffective) workplace diversity policies Strategies for recruiting a more diverse workforce Talking to the boss: How to communicate with leadership International Women’s Day 2023 theme of #EmbracingEquity.

New Forests launches new fund with a target of $600M

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:59
New Forests has launched a new fund targeting of $600m to invest across forest, land and agriculture markets in Australia and New Zealand. Source: IPE Real Assets The global forestry manager’s new vehicle, the Australia New Zealand Landscapes and Forestry Fund (ANZLAFF), will have its first close between January and March next year, expecting to raise $300m. Mark Rogers, senior managing director, Australia, New Zealand and the US, at New Forests, said that two existing investors were in late-stage due diligence. “We would probably raise half of what we are targeting at the moment by our first close next year, and we will likely have a second close soon after raising the full $600m,” he said. Among the investors is a Swedish pension fund believed to have invested with New Forests since its first fund was launched 12 years ago. Mr Rogers said the latest fund was attracting strong interest from European investors drawn to positive sovereign risks and the outlook of the sector in Australia and New Zealand. The 15-year ANZLAFF fund will target investments into core forestry plantations in selected investment regions, alongside processing and logistics companies, with some exposure to primary agriculture commodities. Additionally, it will aim to enhance climate mitigation through carbon sequestration and emissions reduction opportunities. ANZLAFF is New Forests’ fourth round in its Australia and New Zealand landscapes and forestry strategy. Mr Rogers said that between the first fund and this fund, the investment theme had switched from buying distressed forestry assets to reverting to agriculture to the reverse. “With our fourth fund, we want to buy agricultural land with the potential to put it into forestry. We will manage both agriculture and forestry as combined assets,” he said.

Biosecurity agreement to establish national forest pest surveillance

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:58
A new Biosecurity Collaboration Agreement will establish a National Forest Pest Surveillance Program to improve the early detection of exotic forest pests and the likelihood of their eradication. Source: Timberbiz This agreement will enable industry and government to carry out risk-based forest pest surveillance activities to early detect and manage new pest incursions in Australia through a well-coordinated national surveillance program. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said this agreement was timely, given the increasing levels of trade, movement of people and commodities, and climate change contributing to an upward trend in the number of exotic forest pest incursions. “A nationally coordinated surveillance program supported by an effective diagnostic network is needed to effectively mitigate the risk of exotic forest pests establishing in Australia,” Senator Watt said. “Our forests represent the seventh largest forest estate in the world comprising native, commercial, and urban forests. “Ensuring that forest stakeholders and government agencies work together in partnership is critical to achieving these aims,” he said. “The landmark agreement is the first of its kind, committing to a consistent and harmonised approach with targeted expert surveillance, training and support of various stakeholders, and planning and reporting. “This is a great example of how strong partnerships across governments and industry can improve our national biosecurity system. “It is also very timely as we know climate change can stress trees, making them more susceptible to pests, and a warming climate is changing the movement and range of pests to threaten new areas of forest.” Plant Health Australia CEO, Sarah Corcoran said the early detection of exotic plant pest and diseases minimised the potential significant economic and social risks and improved the chances of eradication before these impacts occur. “The National Forest Pest Surveillance Program demonstrates how connected strategies, collaboration and co-ordinated plant pest and surveillance activities strengthen the plant biosecurity system not only for the benefit of plant industries but for economy, environment, and community,” Ms Corcoran said. Signatories to the agreement include the Commonwealth government, the Australian Forest Products Association, Plant Health Australia, all State and Territory governments, Forest Wood Products Australia, Invasive Species Council, and NRM Regions Australia. “This new national surveillance partnership aims to improve biosecurity measures including, better collaboration between government and industry, so if pests arrive in Australia they can be dealt with quickly and more effectively. Time is a critical commodity when dealing with biosecurity matters and this agreement prioritises that necessity,” AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said. “Furthermore, biosecurity risks are on the rise with movements across Australia’s borders expected to increase over coming decades, increasing the risk of an accidental pest introduction, while climate change can also make trees more susceptible to pests and diseases. Continually improving biosecurity and surveillance measures are essential to protects Australia’s forests, urban amenity trees and our forest industries. “I commend all of the stakeholders and the Federal Government for bringing this new agreement partnership forward, so Australia’s trees and forests can be as best protected as possible from biosecurity risks,” Mr Hampton said. More information on the Program can be found at https://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/national-programs/national-forest-pest-surveillance-program/

Logging halted in Tasmania by Swift parrot

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:58
Sustainable Timber Tasmania has halted logging in a patch of northeast forest that was the site of an environmental protest over the Swift parrot. Source: The Mercury Environmentalist Bob Brown was arrested last month during the protest at Snow Hill in the Eastern Tiers. Protesters said the logging was illegal because the coupe contained not only Swift parrot habitat, but birds foraging and nesting. At the time STT said there had been no verified sightings of the critically endangered parrots in the logging area. However, a parliamentary committee was told on Thursday the presence of parrots had been confirmed. “Within the time the harvesting was going on there were sightings of Swift parrots broadly in the Easter Tiers. Now there’s specific evidence that we shouldn’t continue harvesting and we have stopped,” said STT CEO Steve Whiteley. General manager land management Suzette Weeding later clarified logging would be halted “until such time as we choose to go back”. Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the cessation of logging at Snow Hill vindicated the environmental action. “It took the work of conservationists to halt logging in the Eastern Tiers Swift parrot forests. The Rockliff Government, through its forestry GBE, would have continued trashing the critical habitat, unchecked unless forest defenders and citizen scientists had been there to defend the remaining habitat of the fastest bird on earth,” Ms O’Connor said. Also, during the hearing Resources Minister Felix Ellis flagged a renewed push into contested areas of native forest to “unlock” more timber. As legislation will need to pass the parliament for the Future Potential Production Forest (FPPF) to be accessed, Mr Ellis turned the questions on Labor via committee member Shane Broad. “You could indicate whether there would be bipartisan support for that Dr Broad?” Mr Ellis said. Dr Broad said it was up to Mr Ellis to answer questions during the hearing. The FPPF land had been set aside for reserves under the former Tasmanian Forest Agreement. Any effort to open the forests to logging will be met with strong resistance from environmentalists. Mr Ellis and Ms O’Connor had a heated exchange over his use of the term “wood bank” to describe the FPPF land. “It’s a carbon bank you troglodyte,” Ms O’Connor said. She then withdrew the word “troglodyte” after Mr Ellis took offence.

Christmas stand downs at Maryvale mill

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:57
Opal Australian Paper is preparing to stand down workers at its Maryvale mill on Christmas Eve, in the wake of a pulp-log shortage brought on by environmentalists’ legal action. Source: Weekly Times “VicForests’ operations remain suspended and as a result, the lack of wood supply is continuing to impact the Maryvale Mill,” Opal stated. “We anticipate that our white paper production may be potentially impacted from the third week of December onwards. “As a consequence, temporary stand downs or a reduction in working arrangements affecting a small number of work groups at the Maryvale Mill may become necessary.” About 220 of the mill’s 850 workers operate Maryvale’s white paper processing and converting room, producing the company’s signature Reflex copy paper from mainly native forest hardwood pulp logs. “This is a challenging situation with the potential to create financial and production difficulties for Opal Australian Paper,” the company stated. “Opal is investigating a number of alternative wood supply options however, unfortunately, to date, sufficient volumes are not available. “We are continuing to consult on this issue with our team members” and “work through this situation with our customers”. VicForests, which supplies Maryvale and 12 sawmills with hardwood logs, was forced to halt harvesting last month in its most productive forests – the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, following a Supreme Court ruling. Justice Melinda Richards ordered that all coupes must be resurveyed to protect greater and yellow-bellied gliders and slashed the quantity of timber that could be harvested in coupes where the possum was detected. The re-survey work will take months, with VicForests and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning bureaucrats pointing their fingers at each other on who is responsible. Harvest and haulage contractors have warned that even if the survey work is redone, the gliders are so common most coupes will be unviable. Meanwhile, VicForests has moved to stop harvesting in the Tambo region, to protect itself from legal action, until it sorts out what it can do in the wake of the judgement. Up until now contractors were able cut down 60 per cent of the trees in a coupe, leaving 40 per cent either standing in the harvest zone or in stream-side buffer and protection areas around trees where gliders had been spotted. But Justice Richards has ordered VicForests and its contractors can cut only 40% of the timber available in the harvestable area of the coupe where a possum is found, excluding buffer and protection zones. The powerful Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union has also accused Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning of undermining attempts to source logs for the Maryvale mill.

PM strongly endorses sustainably managed native and plantation timber

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:56
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has provided a strong endorsement of Australia’s sustainably managed native and plantation timber industries and their vital role in achieving Australia’s net zero emissions goal and global partnership to end deforestation. Source: Timberbiz Speaking at the Australian Forest Products Association Members Dinner in Canberra this week Mr Albanese congratulated AFPA and the National Farmers Federation for leading a joint agriculture and forestry delegation to the climate talks just concluded in Egypt and was adamant that Australia’s signing of the Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP) at COP27, initiated by the UK, is completely consistent with supporting climate smart forestry such as is practiced in Australia: “The Partnership is consistent with our sustainable native forestry practices and it will see us focus on promoting sustainable production and trade, along with scaling up regional carbon markets,” he said. “We will work together to meet our commitments and provide new and yet-to-be-developed renewable forest materials to help move Australia to a net zero economy.” Mr Albanese also backed the vital role of Australia’s timber plantation sector in meeting Australia’s net zero emission goals and committed to working with the sector to maximise its opportunities in the carbon market by removing regulatory barriers in the Emissions Reduction Fund. “I know the plantation industry wants to play its part in achieving net zero emissions, and we want to work with you in doing just that. “One thing is we’re particularly keen to do is to ensure that your sector can fully participate in generating and benefiting from carbon credits,” he said. “We are undertaking an independent review of our carbon credits system so Australia can benefit from a strong and credible marketplace, and we’ll continue to work with you to remove barriers to investment in plantations and farm forestry including changes to the water interception rule.” Chair of AFPA, Diana Gibbs, said, “Our sustainable forest industries were privileged at our Members Dinner to have Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt, both speak so forcefully and passionately about the vital role forest industries in this country must play in delivering climate goals, timber for our homes, regional jobs and sovereign capability. “I was very pleased to have the opportunity to thank them both for the more than $300 million in election commitments which have been delivered in the budget. These commitments will help us drive innovation to deliver more timber from the sustainably used forests we already have as well as start the urgent business of adding more production trees to the estate. “The Federal Government has committed to seeing another billion production trees planted to ensure we have the timber for our children’s homes. We are well behind on this goal. As well as stocking the hardware shelves, a billion more trees will also be a major down payment on the Government’s 43% emissions reduction target, so we really are in a position to deliver a win-win if the policy settings are right,” she said. “Importantly, we also have bipartisan support for these policies, and we thank Shadow Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Jonno Duniam, for speaking in support of these policies last night and being such a passionate supporter of Australia’s sustainable forest industries.”

Opinion: Hugh Christie – Tas farmers understand the need for sustainable production

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:55
They have always understood this need and have been adapting and adjusting to ensure they can keep producing food, fibre and pharmaceuticals for the world. This is seen through the genesis of Landcare launched nationally in 1989, effectively joint recognition from environmental groups that farmers have lUong been playing a vital role in environmental sustainability. This has also more recently been encapsulated in the Dairy industry Sustainability Framework and progressed under NFF’s Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework; all of which have farmers at the core, demonstrating why farmers look after their key asset long-term – their farm as an investment in the future. I can remember over 30 years ago planting trees on my parent’s property in Western Victoria and the effort that they went to plan how to manage the whole property. This included planting trees to reduce areas of salt, fencing waterways and putting in off stream watering points to reduce erosion (the stock did better with lower salinity water as well). These efforts have progressed across the sector, with improved fertiliser management, shelter belts, adapting farm management practices to viably operate in extreme and changing weather patterns All of which helps to make farming businesses more sustainable. Importantly however, these initiatives have been done not only in the context of a sustainable environment, but sustainable businesses. This is critical as we cannot be environmentally sustainable if we are not economically viable, sustainability is an all-encompassing operating practice, not just a statement. This presents a challenge to Tasmania’s farmers. We have all been working towards more sustainable farms, but when actions have already been taken due to the desire to do the right thing which predate targets such as reductions in methane emissions from 2020 levels, the level of investment to achieve these targets when the low hanging fruit is already captured is significant. The industry has already proactively focussed on evidence-based solutions, for example as demonstrated by the dairy industry in the development of a carbon calculator, now on its 5th version, continuously upgrading it to capture a more accurate and detailed picture. This challenge is only made greater with the market conditions we are all currently experiencing, with a combination of high input costs and natural events making sustainable farming operations increasingly challenging. What is a sustainable future? This is the big question. The TFGA fully supports the need to ensure a sustainable future for the world, however this needs to be done in a way that ensures our farmers can continue to feed us, put clothes on our back, provide timber for our homes and medicine to keep us healthy. Our environmental stewardship is impressive and needs to be recognised and attributed. We want to make sure that investment in research and technology continues to be made, so that farmers can continue to confidently adapt, without bearing an exorbitant economic burden. Tasmania is uniquely placed to play a key role in this with abundant natural assets and advantages such as renewable energy. We just need to make sure we find a way to recognise and value the contributions already made when figuring out how we continue to improve our environmental footprint, recognising that Tasmania is the only Australian state to have consistently achieved net zero emissions.   Hugh Christie is CEO Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association

Friday Analysis: Albanese sees the light that eludes Andrews and McGowan

Fri, 02/12/2022 - 00:54
It was indeed pleasing for the timber industry nationally to have the Prime Minister Mr Albanese this week deliver a strong endorsement of Australia’s sustainably managed native and plantation timber industries. It is a message he has delivered before, and as then, is very welcoming. It is of course in strong contrast to the actions of the Labor premiers of Western Australia and Victoria who are proceeding to shut down the native timber industries in their states. But this has led to some ask the question; why doesn’t the Prime Minister’s support overrule what the premiers want to do? Who has the authority here? The member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath raised the point on her Facebook page. “So, the Prime Minister can see the science, logic and sustainability of our native timber industry yet the Andrews Government refuses to do so,” she wrote. “It is just atrocious what Daniel Andrews is doing to our timber communities and environment. “Premier, have a chat with your Federal Leader.” It’s a good point, but the bottom line is that a) premiers do not need to listen to the prime minister and b) the prime minister can’t force the states to listen. Sadly, it’s as simple as that and it’s not hard to find a recent example. Think back to the peak of Covid. Think back to the last major bushfires. In both cases the Federal Government advised, offered help, and suggested strategies. But the Federal Government could not step in. The Federal Government simply has no power to override the decisions of state Governments except in accordance with the Federal Constitution. And whether we like it or not, the shutting down of the native timber industry is not a constitutional matter. Then there is the next question; why wouldn’t the leader of the Labor Party nationally have some sway over his Labor colleagues who are premiers? Oh, if only that was the case. Try getting the NSW branch of the Labor Party to toe the Federal line. Good luck there. Try getting WA’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan, or recently returned Dan Andrews to toe the Federal line. The Labor party is so controlled by the factions that will simply never happen. It’s a nice thought, but it seems the nation is stuck with the present system. As Sir Winston Churchill once said: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”.

Dragon eggs to help put out US wildfires

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:08
As US wildfires have grown larger and deadlier in recent years, one company is using drones and fire-starting “dragon eggs” to help prevent extreme blazes and save firefighters’ lives. Source: CNN Business Drone Amplified, a Nebraska-based start-up, is using unmanned aerial technology to improve one of the oldest and most-effective methods of preventing wildfires: prescribed burns. This technique refers to the controlled application of fire by a team of experts to reduce hazardous fuel in areas prone to wildfires. “More prescribed fires mean fewer extreme wildfires,” according to the US Forest Service. Carrick Detweiler, founder and CEO of Drone Amplified, told CNN that this method works by “doing a very low intensity burn that will basically burn up the dead leaves and sticks that would cause major wildfires when they dry out later in the summer.” The company was started by two University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering professors in 2017. In 2020, it was awarded a grant totalling US$1 million for research and development from the National Science Foundation and Nebraska Department of Economic Development. “We can reduce these huge wildfires by using more fire, when it’s safe to do so,” Mr Detweiler added. While the technique of prescribed burns has been around for centuries (and was even used by Indigenous Americans for wildfire management), it can be laborious and risky at times for firefighters carrying it out today. Firefighters often must hike or ride an all-terrain vehicle through dense forest or mountainous terrain, carrying a drip torch to start small fires in specific, remote locations, according to Mr Detweiler. “Then you have helicopters with a whole crew on board, flying really low and slow over the fire,” he added of other methods for prescribed burns. “About a quarter of all wildland firefighting fatalities are related to aviation,” Detweiler said. “And for me, this really was a motivation to start Drone Amplified and get these systems into the hands of firefighters.” While he said a helicopter can cover a larger amount of area than a drone, he notes that firefighters can also deploy “tens or thousands of our systems for the same cost as a helicopter.” A drone from the company costs about US$80,000. The drones carry so-called “dragon eggs,” or fireballs that ignite when they land on the ground. “They have potassium permanganate,” Detweiler said of the dragon eggs, adding that when you mix this with glycol it starts a chemical reaction — resulting in a fire. Some 400 of these fireballs can be secured onto a single 50-pound drone. The drones allow firefighters to work at a distance from flames, according to Detweiler, and in areas that are difficult to reach due to terrain or visibility. Moreover, the firefighting technology can be used, “when it’s dark, when it’s smokey, and when other airplanes can’t be out there.” The drones, which are controlled by an app, can also allow the fire-starting balls to be dropped in very specific locations. Precision is a critical element when conducting prescribed burns, because it is crucial for preventing fire escapes. While escapes are rare — the US Forest Service reports just one escape for every thousand burns — the outcomes can be devastating. Two recent controlled burns in New Mexico escaped and led to the state’s largest wildfire on record. Mr Detweiler said his company’s equipment aims to prevent fire escapes through the use of thermal cameras, visual cameras and other technology that lets firefighters see through smoke. “Our app also allows the firefighter to put in geofences [boundaries] to prevent any ignitions outside of that area,” he added. While Drone Amplified is already being used by the US Forest Service and other federal agencies, Detweiler said he hopes to see the technology on the back of every firefighter’s truck in the future.

Canada log truck training program for job opportunities

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:07
British Columbia province is providing more than Can$350,000 to Okanagan College in Vernon to deliver its professional logging truck driver training program. Source: Timberbiz The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) project focuses on providing occupational training and work experience for Indigenous people and youth. “This project is empowering Indigenous people and youth by giving them new job opportunities in the professional logging sector,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Participants who graduate from the program will receive the skills they need to find rewarding careers as professional logging truck drivers in the North Okanagan and Shuswap area.” Participants will receive 16 weeks of employability and occupational skills training, including the BC Forest Safety Council Professional Industry Driver theory and mentorship program, as well as MELT driver training, 10 weeks of on-the-job work experience with local employers, and three weeks of follow up support to prepare participants in their job search as professional logging truck drivers.

Artificial intelligence at work in wood logistics

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:05
An entirely new operating method has been adopted for the wood logistics of Metsä Group’s Kemi bioproduct mill. It combines electrified rail transports, the weighing and reception of wood at wood terminals, artificial intelligence, and machine vision. Source: Timberbiz “The Kemi bioproduct mill receives two thirds of the wood it uses by train. Smooth rail logistics are essential to ensure that the bioproduct mill receives the volume of wood it needs,” says Hannu Alarautalahti, SVP, Production, Metsä Forest. Metsä Group’s Kemi bioproduct mill will start up in the third quarter of 2023. The new mill will use 4.5 million cubic metres more wood than the current mill. The wood procurement area will also expand. According to plans, one million cubic metres of the additional wood used will be imported from Sweden. Although the transport distances for raw wood to the Kemi mill will be longer, efficient rail transports will ensure emissions are reduced by 20% per cubic metre of wood. The trains running to the mill are loaded at eleven rail terminals operated by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. New wood terminals will be set up and old ones refurbished to handle the Kemi bioproduct mill’s wood supply. The terminals in northern Finland will be completed by the end of this year and the rest by the summer of 2023. In a new move, Metsä Group has invested in seven weighbridges for weighing timber lorries and receiving wood on arrival at the terminal instead of at the mill, as is currently the case. At the other rail terminals, the material machines that handle unloading are also used for weighing the wood. “We have invested several million euros in the weighbridges. By measuring wood at the terminals, we can increase the terminals’ capacity and add flexibility to train transports at the mill. Moreover, timber lorry drivers can unload their vehicles at the wood terminals at their own pace instead of having to coordinate deliveries with the loading schedules of trains,” says Alarautalahti. An indication of the importance of smooth logistics is that the Finnish railway company VR will provide carriages and engines for wood supply that will be used exclusively for the Kemi mill’s wood transports. “We’ve planned the railway logistics and infrastructure construction with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and VR Transpoint. This transport concept was created jointly to ensure the mill’s wood supply. We piloted the operating model in the autumn and found it worked well,” says Alarautalahti. “Wood delivery trains arrive at the bioproduct mill along Metsä Group’s new private track. The trains are weighed on arrival and departure with a rail weighbridge. We use dynamic weighing, which means the train does not need to stop for weighing but continues at an easy hourly pace of 8–10 kilometres along the track,” says Pasi Pulkkinen, VP, Logistics of the bioproduct mill project at Metsä Group. “The private track enables wood deliveries by electric engines to the mill. Wood unloading at the bioproduct mill is fully electrified. These are some of the investments that will help Metsä Group achieve fossil free mills by 2030,” says Pulkkinen. Timber lorries are weighed on arrival and departure, as is done at all mills. What is new is that vehicles and carriages are scanned during unloading. Scanning ensures that the wood can be automatically unloaded from both trains and timber lorries. We use entirely new technology, featuring artificial intelligence and machine vision,” says Pulkkinen. At the bioproduct mill, two autonomous woodyard cranes unload the rail carriages and timber lorries. After the loads have been scanned, artificial intelligence linked to the crane independently plans and carries out the unloading of wood for both vehicles and carriages. Seated in the debarking department’s control room, the crane operator supervises the unloading with the aid of screens and intervenes in the unloading process if necessary.

Rugby star speaks at Hyne to promote workplace safety

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:04
Queensland Rugby League legend and sports presenter, Shane Webcke, has a strong connection and commitment to workplace safety following the death of his father in a workplace incident.  Source: Timberbiz As the Queensland Government’s Safety Ambassador, Mr Webcke visits Queensland businesses, speaking with workers about the importance of staying safe at work and creating a strong safety culture. James Hyne said the Hyne Group was proud to host a safety breakfast event with Mr Webcke as the speaker. “Hyne Timber values and integrates safety in all that we do and supports all team members to be part of our safety culture. “Shane shared his inspirational story of the impact the workplace death of his father had on him and his family and the importance of staying safe at work,” Mr Hyne said. “He provided a heart-felt perspective on how safety for all team members is something that extends beyond our sites and business.” Hyne Timber temporarily shut down its Glulam plant so all team members could attend the event and extended the invitation to others across the business as well as over 20 local businesses and organisations. “On behalf of all those who attended, I would like to thank Shane and the Queensland Government for their contribution to make all workplaces safer,” Mr Hyne said. The event included a BBQ breakfast and opportunity to ask Mr Webcke questions while reflecting on his talk. Mr Webcke said that enough time had passed that he can speak about the tragedy and the impact losing his dad 28 years ago has had on him and his family. “My motivation for accepting the role as Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Safety Ambassador is linked to the fact that I lost my father in a preventable workplace accident,” he said. “If I can change the attitude of one person and perhaps prevent something like this from happening to another family, well, then it would have been worthwhile. “As Queensland Safety Ambassador, I have travelled around the state visiting workplaces and sharing my story. I hope I’ve made even a small difference and made people think twice about their own and their mates’ safety and encourage businesses to create positive safety cultures”.  

The supply chain under the microscope

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:03
The 2022 Appita Fibre Value Chain Conference series focussed on how best to create new value and improve the integrity of the supply or value chain. A major element of that was a dedicated and stand-alone Supply Chain and Innovation Forum. Source: IndustryEdge Speakers from chemicals supplier Solenis (James Zhu) and in particular, Linda Venables the Head of Supply Chain for PwC, were informative and joined for a very lively panel discussion by Murray Horn, the General Manager of Oji Fibre Solutions’ Lodestar and Timo Arra from Tietoevry Industry, a solutions provider. Panellists spent some time discussing the breadth of the term ‘supply chain’ and the fact it is more complex than pure logistics. Inevitably however, there was plenty of discussion in the panel session chaired by IndustryEdge’s Tim Woods, about shipping companies, the importance of ports and infrastructure and the challenges of keeping containers, pallets and other shipping materials in balance. Recognition of the disruption to globalised supply chains came early in the forum, with various examples, including: Trans-shipping delays (where containers are offloaded from one vessel in a major port, only to be delayed onto the smaller vessels making the final delivery) Shipping containers and timber pallets being held in one port or country for longer than expected, reducing availability in other ports and countries and slowing down trade Specific fuel disruptions and challenges switching shipping labour forces. As Murray Horn outlined, the flexibility and reliability provided by a company operating some of its own vessels (OFS Lodestar has two bulk vessels on long-term lease) assisted OFS to meet customer commitments, especially during the darkest days of the pandemic. A lively discussion on container back-loading was concluded simply, with the proposition that if a business has the right relationships, it can reduce its costs by creating ‘circular leases’ for containers. The discussion on relationships and supply chain integration was led by Linda Venables whose extensive experience led her to the conclusion that successful supply chains are almost always the outcome of successful relationships. That might mean different things for different businesses, but always includes sharing needs and interests and moving beyond the transactional. For businesses on the supply-side (all businesses are suppliers to someone, of course), diversification to ensure consistency of supply was considered an important element of the future. As James Zhu advised, it was an approach used by most major chemical suppliers, even those with quite local production and supply arrangements. The need to conduct scenario-based risk assessments was a theme of this forum, with the view that no matter how many scenarios are covered, something unexpected can always arise. As Timo Arra explained, the best predictions will come from data analysis and digital predictions as simple as understanding vessel movements and as complex as digital ledger technology, shared in open forums between supply chain participants. There are very few activities that cannot be improved with better and more open information. As James Zhu outlined, understanding customer needs, by constant discussion, is important to ensure materials are in the right place, at the right time. All these activities add costs throughout the supply chain. While they are inevitable, it was a clear and shared view that increased costs for materials and goods are likely to be locked into the future – and dealing with that will also require better collaborations throughout the supply chain. As the Forum concluded, the panellists agreed there are several features common to all modern supply chains: They are more complex and increasingly unique Unexpected events are more likely and their impact is less predictable Participants need to plan in a manner integrated to their business plan and conducted in collaboration with supply chain partners Partnering is the key to success and building resilience in the supply chain Technology can drive supply chain visibility and create opportunities for new partnerships.   Market balance under examination In what is fast becoming a tradition, IndustryEdge provided the regional market overview for the conference series, summarising material in the 2022 Pulp & Paper Strategic Reviews. If there is a similarity in the trends for Australia and New Zealand, it is the increasing importance of packaging and industrial grades of paper and paperboard to total consumption. In Australia, the proportion is around 61% and in New Zealand, 62.5%. The influence of packaging is growing in both countries. For differences, we can look to the production profiles. In Australia, production of printing and communication papers, including newsprint, continues and is essentially the regional volume. By contrast, there is no production of these grades in New Zealand any longer, but there is significant pulp production for exports. The graphic below shows Australia’s production and consumption profile for 2021-22. Although the data is quite different, the graphic below sets out the experience of the New Zealand industry on the same format. Actively discussed during and after the conference was the role of Indonesia as the major recipient of both country’s recovered paper. Indonesia was long the major customer of the New Zealand sector, but it is now the same for Australia, since China exited the market. For more information visit: www.industryedge.com.au  

FWPA thanks Ross Hampton for outstanding service

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:02
Forest and Wood Products Australia has acknowledged and thanked Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Ross Hampton for his long and outstanding service to the Australian forest and wood products industry as he prepares to depart his role. Source: Timberbiz As CEO for the last 10 years, Mr Hampton has provided strategic leadership to AFPA from the beginnings of the organisation. He was instrumental in helping create mutually beneficial ties between agriculture and forestry and continues to promote forestry’s capacity in the fight against climate change, enhancing the industry’s positive impact. “On behalf of FWPA, I extend our appreciation for Ross’ contribution to the wider industry,” said Andrew Leighton, FWPA CEO and former vice-Chair at AFPA. “Having worked closely with Ross, his deep passion for and commitment to the forest and wood products industry is hard to miss, and his legacy will leave an indelible mark on our community. “We wish him all the best on his new chapter in the UK and the next stage of his career.” Prior to joining AFPA, Mr Hampton worked in advisory and leadership positions in the federal government and private sector. He currently sits on the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations board and will continue in the role of AFPA CEO until early next year.

Scion says New Zealand ITP aligns with its views on forestry

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:02
Research and innovation from Scion will unlock the potential for rural farming communities to embrace new opportunities to prosper following the launch of a roadmap for the forestry and wood processing sector. Source: Timberbiz Minister for Forestry Hon Stuart Nash unveiled the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) at Fieldays where 35 organisations, including Scion, were educating visitors about the dynamic sector and technologies that can support farmers to use trees and fibre in new and exciting ways. Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder says the ITP aligns with Scion’s expertise and gives impetus to the view that future rural landscapes and communities will include a mix of farming, productive forestry, trees on farms and new manufacturing and processing activities. “It reinforces the value of Scion’s Strategy for 2030: Right tree, right place, right purpose. Having this formula drive our work has relevance for rural New Zealand where we can apply our innovations and technologies to trees and fibre on farms in new ways and support diversified farming systems. “We commend Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service for the plan, developed in association with many stakeholders. The ITP and our strategy both highlight how there are opportunities for landowners to increase their returns by making the most of new technologies. It also provides a pathway for more high-paying jobs in the regions through the development of new manufacturing sectors.” With its focus on ‘Right tree, right place, right purpose’ and the circular bioeconomy, Scion’s science and innovation is showcasing how trees can be used to support community resilience and productivity. It’s a programme of work that provides a way for farmers to get a good return from their existing trees and fibre and help preserve the rural way of life treasured by so many farming families across New Zealand. “Farming and trees will always go hand in hand and the future for rural New Zealand looks incredibly bright,” says Elder. “The opportunity ahead of us is to take advantage of these emerging technologies and take heart from the fact that the right trees, grown in the right place and for the right purpose offer enormous value.” New Zealand exports about 60% of harvested wood as logs for other countries to process and add value. In contrast, the 15% exported as value-added wood products return over 40% of total export revenue. The ITP charts a course to turn that around. Increasing New Zealand’s onshore wood processing capability and investment in transforming and developing our domestic woody biomass industry are two target areas identified in the ITP that will drive sector growth, create jobs, and reduce emissions across the economy. For 75 years, Scion’s research has supported rural New Zealand through the evolution of forestry and timber industries. That research continues today, with new technology from Scion presenting even greater ways to make the most of trees, and to create new manufacturing sectors. “Our bio-based research is challenging everyone to re-think how we make better use of every inch of the tree, including those grown on pastoral farms alongside other farming activity,” says Elder. “It’s a future where woody biomass processed on site can be used to create high-value products, offering an alternative to products made from fossil fuels.” With Scion’s focus on research that supports industry to improve productivity and to explore wood-based products for building, biotech and bioenergy, there are opportunities to use this knowledge to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a more circular bioeconomy, says Elder. “As well as helping New Zealand meet its net-zero climate change commitments by 2050, this new bioeconomy is a NZ$30 billion economy opportunity. “It’s this environment that provides a mosaic of activity for regional New Zealand to thrive, through emerging bio-based manufacturing and the creation of high-value products from inputs that we currently consider waste.” To deliver on this, Scion is leading the development of an approach called ‘Distributed manufacturing’, which involves placing small processing units, or mini factories, on or near the sources of available biomass. Distributed manufacturing is one solution to increase on-shore manufacturing and can play a major role in the tree-based value chain. Essentially, these mini factories can be tailored to process biomass such as wood waste, horticultural and farm shelterbelt thinnings or crop residues into high-value wood-based products, biochemicals or pharmaceuticals. “Imagine a factory that fits in a shipping container – compact and mobile,” he says. “These can be strategically positioned within a farm or orchard where the waste is created. These factories can perform novel scalable processes such as biochemical conversion, pyrolysis and pulping. The choice of process depends on inputs and the product being made. It’s about the right process for the right product in the right region. “The work our scientists do every day is totally aligned with the ITP which has created a roadmap to support growth in rural communities, deliver on Māori aspirations, diversify domestic and export markets and generate more value for rural New Zealand,” says Elder. “This transformation will give us the power to not only reduce waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions but also to grow prosperity, jobs and resilience for farmers and rural communities.”

ABARES five-year wood processing survey

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 01:01
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is seeking responses to its five-yearly wood processing sector survey. Source: Timberbiz ARARES provides professionally independent, world-class research, analysis and advice for government and private sector decision-makers on significant issues affecting Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries. It has been undertaking national level analysis every five years for the past two decades. The intention is to tell the story of the national processing sector, in the context of the many changes happening globally and nationally in the five years since it’s last analysis. This time around they are attempting to develop a more detailed and dynamic story of the sector that covers: Utilisation of existing processing capacity – Is there a mismatch between processing capacity and log supply? What is the cost structure of the wood processing supply chain? How susceptible to wood processors to rising energy and log costs? What is the flexibility of current wood processing supply chains? Employment and labour availability – to what extent to labour and skills shortages affect wood processors around Australia? Future opportunities and challenges, and the opportunities for adaptation. This last point is particularly important for the Tasmania Forestry Hub, as it covers what challenges it is facing or expecting to face in the future such as workforce, log supply and product prices. ABARES is seeking information on what measures processors are taking to overcome or take advantage of these challenges or opportunities, or to identify where there are impediments to processors adapting. If you need more information or require assistance completing the survey form contact: ABARES at ForestStatistics@agriculture.gov.au or Peter Lock at 02 6272 5821, or Mijo Gavran on 02 6272 3725.

NZ releases Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 00:59
The Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) will increase wood processing in New Zealand and grow a low-carbon, high-value industry according to Forestry Minister Stuart Nash. Source: Timberbiz “Through working closely with industry we’ve developed an ITP that will both boost the value and future-proof our Forestry sector, providing greater economic security all New Zealanders during this global downturn. “The forestry and wood processing sector is a multi-billion-dollar sector in New Zealand with an export value that has grown by 22% since 2017, and is now worth around NZ$6.6 billion, and employs more than 35,000 people in regional communities. “The ITP will see our export numbers rise further, while creating new domestic opportunities for the sector. “An initial investment of NZ$2.5 million from the Government, plus another NZ$1 million from industry contributions, will see a series of initiatives rolled out from 2023 onwards,” Mr Nash said. Those initiatives include: A diversification programme to improve the opportunities for non-radiata species to be grown and milled in New Zealand Establishing New Zealand’s first post-graduate qualification in wood processing Scaling up the Wood – Our Low-Carbon Future campaign that demonstrates the benefits of low-carbon products derived from locally grown logs Research that identifies how the use of wood products can be increased, by improving standards, and options to recognise the benefits of carbon stored in wood products A business case for a new facility to support commercialisation of bio products Provide support for a Māori forestry strategy “The ITP sets the path for future export growth that does not just rely on exporting logs and instead opens up domestic opportunities such as converting wood into high-tech low-carbon products such as construction materials, including timber frames, fence paling and decking, and into biomaterials such as liquid and solid fuels. “These will all create more employment and lift sustainability. “We will also develop our domestic woody biomass industry that takes forestry by-products such as branches, bark, chips and sawdust and turns them into products such as pellets and particleboard, and into biofuels to power our transport, make plastics and pharmaceuticals, and replace high-emissions materials in our buildings. “More processing in New Zealand will create jobs, drive growth and provide more wood residues to support the growing bio-economy,” Mr Nash said. The Government allocated NZ$27 million in Budget 22 to support delivery of the ITP and has ring-fenced another NZ$155 million to support ITP-related initiatives and projects. “As a government, we want to support the forestry and wood processing sector to help drive this country towards a low-emissions future, while at the same time creating meaningful jobs for hard-working Kiwis and growing our economy. “New Zealand is currently the world’s largest softwood log exporter. Today roughly 60% of our harvest is exported as logs to a small number of markets. “I’m also glad to announce the establishment of the Interim ITP Implementation group, which is made up of sector leaders and will support Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service to start the implementation of the plan. “It has taken two years to get to this point, and I am very proud to officially launch the final plan here today. The Fieldays Forestry Hub was created in partnership between Government and the sector and demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together,” said Stuart Nash. Download the plan here.

VFPA hopes re-elected Labor Government will realise full potential of forestry

Wed, 30/11/2022 - 00:57
Victoria’s forest industries welcome the re-elected Labor Government with a mandate to support forestry in tackling climate change and securing Victoria’s future timber and fibre needs. Source: Timberbiz Victorian Forest Products Association CEO Deb Kerr said Victoria’s renewable forest industries looked forward to continuing their work with the Labor Government to address the big issues facing the industry. “We look forward to collaborating with key Ministers to push the most urgent issues in our sector: the role forestry can play to tackle climate change achieving self-sufficiency in timber easing labour shortages across the sector a sensible policy around native forests that delivers positive ecological outcomes and helps with fire management. The Labor government is investing $120M to expand Victoria’s plantation estate, primarily in Gippsland. Wood sourced from plantations is critical for Victorian homes. With Melbourne set to become Australia’s largest capital city, this wood will be increasingly in demand. “Victoria’s native hardwood and plantation industry significantly contributes to carbon sequestration,” Ms Kerr said. “Every tree planted is a carbon sink and the harvested tree continues to store carbon in the wood for its lifetime. The forestry industry is the path to achieve the aspirations of Victorian to achieve net zero. Victoria’s forestry industry is the ultimate carbon capture and storage – and what’s more, trees do this for free. “We look forward to working with Premier Andrews and his team to realise the full potential of Australia’s renewable forest industries,” she said.


by Dr. Radut