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Tree detection advances towards precision forestry

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Advances in sensors and aerial platforms continue to offer Forest growers an increasing array of precision datasets. Extracting further value to streamline management is desirable, though often limited due to software costs, computing constraints and iterations required to extract meaningful results.

Working alongside SKYCAN, Indufor’s resource monitoring team has overcome these challenges. The pilot commercial solution was deployed in 2021, where Indufor’s tree detection and analytical layers provide forest growers with precise information that confirms plantation establishment, provides auditable measures of stocking, and importantly improves efficiency of field inspections – with many tasks such as early age tree counts done from the desktop.

Building on this, Abdullah Madawi and Dr Pete Watt presented work at the Remote Sensing Cluster Group (November 2023) run in conjunction with ForestTECH 2023.to develop a novel online tree detection approach that uses UAV data.

Abdullah comments “UAVs have quickly become the forester’s choice for rapid area reconnaissance, utilising these images collected opens the door to extract further information”. In collaboration with Forest Growers Research and Scion, the team will look to build and deploy the fully operational system by mid-2024.

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Blenheim company turning wood chips into graphite

In Wood Residues, WoodTECH by kenwilson

In New Zealand, a Blenheim company is turning wood chips and sawdust into graphite to be used in EV batteries.

CarbonScape was founded in 2006 – with a focus on making carbon products using waste biomass like wood chips to create biochar to help soil health and also green coke coal for steelmaking.

However, the company has changed its focus to offering customers its patent technology that converts woody biomass to biographite. In recent years CarbonScape has received an NZ$18 million investment from Swedish and Finnish company Stora Enso – considered one of the biggest forest, paper and packaging companies in the world.

In December it also won a multi-million-dollar grant from Callaghan Innovation. CarbonScape’s finance director Oliver Foster told Bryan the company wants to become the preferred graphite choice when it comes to manufacturing batteries.

Listen here.

Source: RNZ

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Pacifica Shipping introduces battery swap e-trucks

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

NZ coastal shipping operator Pacifica Shipping is introducing fully electric battery swap trucks to create one of New Zealand’s lowest emission supply chains for heavy freight.

The company, a division of Swire Shipping (NZ), received NZ$252,000 in co-funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) towards the project.

It will help deploy two XCMG E700 electric trucks, supplied by local distributor Etrucks, to move full containers for the first and last mile at the ports of Auckland and Christchurch. The project is poised to achieve a significant reduction in carbon footprint by eliminating 5,100 conventional combustion engine truck movements and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 250 tonnes annually.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) have joined the initiative as a product partner while Mainfreight and Hilton Haulage have been brought on board as inland transportation partners. The first phase of the project will see the commencement of Mainfreight operating the battery swap trucks between CCEP’s Mount Wellington site and the Port of Auckland.

Operations will soon be expanded to Christchurch with Hilton Haulage operating between Lyttelton Port and CCEP’s Woolston site. The E700’s battery swap technology enables the rapid replacement of discharged battery modules with fully charged ones. This technology minimises operational downtime and enhances productivity.

Source: transporttalk

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Stora Enso expands Harvesting Partner concept

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Stora Enso launched its Harvesting Partner concept in November 2022 to encourage more skillful operators and new entrepreneurs to join the forest industry. The concept was initially introduced in Sweden, but it has since then been launched also in Finland, Norway and Lithuania. Stora Enso is currently recruiting for the second generation of harvesting partners that could join the network in 2024.

SEB has been Stora Enso’s partner from the start, and the bank has developed a new financing model to make it easier for the new entrepreneurs to start their business. Based on this model, new machinery is rented with a monthly cost for a four-year rental period after which the machinery will be returned to Stora Enso for maintenance and further use either in a new rental or in training new harvesting partners.

“We are happy to support with a financial set-up that enables Stora Enso to retain ownership and control of the machines with the aim to extend usage over its lifetime as well as prolong the machines end-of-life,” says Jakob Hansson, Head of SEB Product as a Service Incubator for Large Corporates.

“Together with SEB we want to attract more people to join the industry and enable entrepreneurship for people living in the rural areas. The new financing model developed by SEB lowers the barriers of entry to the market as the initial investment by the entrepreneur will be lower due to external financing,” says Mattias Bränngård, Sourcing Director, Harvesting in Stora Enso. “The financing model also enables us to have control of the circularity and further use of the machinery.”

Stora Enso’s Harvesting Partner concept is based on a four- year contract with new or established entrepreneurs. The contract includes financing of new machinery, accounting and HR services, training and participation in Stora Enso’s management and harvesting networks. Through the contract, Harvesting Partners will commit to provide Stora Enso with safe, sustainable and efficient operations and agreed volumes as well as developing their operations further.

Source and image credit: Stora Enso

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One million ‘Introduction to AI’ scholarships available to Australians

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Artificial intelligence (AI) ‘scholarships’ are now on offer to one million Australians, in a bid to increase the nation’s literacy of the technology estimated to be worth A$4 trillion to the economy by the early 2030s.

The free ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ microskill course is provided by the Institute of Applied Technology Digital, a technology-focused institute at TAFE NSW, and the National AI Centre (NAIC), coordinated by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

The course will provide a non- technical introduction to AI fundamentals and is designed for people at the beginning of their AI literacy journey.

Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan today welcomed the announcement which is an ideal opportunity for workers seeking to upskill, those starting their career in AI, and small to medium business owners.

The microskill is available now through the TAFE NSW Institute of Applied Technology – Digital. Working in collaboration with TAFE NSW, Microsoft, Macquarie University, and the University of Technology Sydney, the Institute of Applied Technology Digital designs and delivers market-leading training that rapidly adapts to industry needs.

The two-and-a-half-hour course will cover:

  • what AI is
  • common AI terminologies
  • the challenges and risks of using AI
  • common misconceptions
  • real-world applications of AI
  • Australian AI case studies
  • advice from industry experts to start your career in AI

NSW Minister for Skills, TAFE, and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan, said: “Artificial Intelligence is already transforming our economy, workplace, education system, and community. This is an exciting opportunity for people nation-wide to advance their AI understanding.

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Source: NSW Government

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Kea study in pine forests a boost

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

A preliminary study has been published documenting kea habitat use, movement and diet in forestry company OneFortyOne’s forests in the Nelson Tasman region.

The study, conducted by Lincoln University Masters student Jodanne Aitken, and funded by forestry company OneFortyOne, confirmed that kea are residing and utilising food sources within pine plantation forests in the Nelson Tasman region.

Jodanne will be a speaker at the upcoming FIEA Environmental Forestry Conference on 25-26 June 2024 in Rotorua, NZ.

Jodanne said very little is known about kea occupancy, behavioural ecology or habitat use of plantation forests. “It’s a preliminary study, which gives us a better insight into kea behaviour in pine plantation forests and help us understand what might be keeping them in the pine forests,” said Jodanne.

“It is thought kea may utilise plantation sites to forage for seeds and insects and could possibly even seek out plantation sites at particular phases of forestry activities, for example immediately post-harvest to find specific food items.

“The study used GPS-VHF units to track the movements of three kea through the forestry blocks, I also recorded feeding observations of kea in the forest.” Jodanne said.

Jodanne noted the kea in OneFortyOne’s forest were different to those she had previously studied further south.

As a PhD student, it’s not often you’re outsmarted by your study species, but Jodanne said the kea in the Nelson Tasman forests were the hardest birds to catch out of all kea in the country. “It took almost four months to lure the birds in,” she said.

“The kea studied tended to sit up in the trees more, and are not observed on the ground as often. This behaviour is similar to what we would see in Okarito in the West Coast, the diet was also similar with them eating mostly invertebrates and seeds.”

Understanding kea use of plantation forestry sites is vital for guiding effective conservation management strategies and ensuring that no negative interactions occur between kea and forestry workers and their equipment.

“The numbers of kea are sadly low (~5000-7000 kea remaining), we need to understand them better in all their environments to conserve them.” 

“It would be great to see more large land users replicate the investment OneFortyOne has made. We all need to work together to protect these beautiful and extremely clever birds,” said Jodanne.

OneFortyOne has contributed $100,000 to a suite of Kea Conservation Trust projects, including this study focused on kea habitat use and diet in plantation forests.

Source and image credit: OneFortyOne

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A$100m Australian Forest and Wood Innovations program

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

The future of sustainable forestry received a significant boost today with the official launch of the Albanese Government’s A$100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program.

AFWI is a collaboration between the Albanese Government and the University of Tasmania, committed to advancing research and innovation in Australian forest and wood products.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the University of Tasmania AFWI Headquarters in Launceston would support a local AFWI research centre, with further centres planned for the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Melbourne.

Establishing AFWI was an election commitment which we are proud to deliver and forms part of our record A$300 million investment in the Australian forestry and forest product sector,” Minister Watt said.

“This program will support sustainable forestry, while also helping to deliver a future made in Australia.

“It’s an exciting time for forestry research as we work towards unlocking the full potential of wood as the ultimate renewable material and growing our forests and forestry industry.

The three research centres will undertake research to enhance our production forests and the wood products sourced from them – managing and sustainably expanding our Australian forestry resources, transforming wood residues into renewable products and energy solutions – all while helping to address the threat of climate change.

“We saw demand for forest products significantly increase during the Covid-19 pandemic — increasing production in our sustainably managed plantation estate and product recovery from our sawmills and wood and fibre processing plants will see us better positioned to meet demand into the future.”

Minister Watt said AFWI would also shortly be announcing the opening of the first of four, A$5 million annual national open calls for forestry research projects. The annual national open calls will be open to applications from all Australian-based researchers supporting the forest industry, and not be limited to the research centres established by AFWI.

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Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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Next-gen heavy duty truck charging

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Global efforts to decarbonise medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) freight vehicles are crucial for reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the medium- to heavy-duty electric truck market forecast to reach NZ$335 billion (US$207b) by 2044.

So says IDTechEx in its report Electric and Fuel Cell Trucks 2024-2044: Markets, Technologies, and Forecasts, by IDTechEx senior technology analyst Shazan Siddiqi. These vehicles, pivotal to economies worldwide, emit significant GHGs and criteria pollutants, often impacting vulnerable communities, he says.

“Fortunately, a growing array of technologies can eliminate tailpipe emissions and reduce the overall carbon footprint of MHD vehicles. “Currently, over 160 models of zero-emission trucks are available from more than 40 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – benchmarked on various performance metrics in IDTechEx’s latest report.

“Most commercial vehicle charging today is limited to between 150 and 350kW. “While charging at this level meets the needs of many fleets, as the use of commercial battery electric vehicles expands there will be use cases that will benefit from higher-powered charging, adding hundreds of miles of range to a heavy- duty truck during a rest break.”

IDTechEx research finds that the megawatt charging system (MCS) presents opportunities and challenges of moving to much faster charging speeds but predicts that it will become the exclusive commercial vehicle charging standard. “The MCS associated voltage cap is 1250V, so it is evident that higher charging powers are achieved by higher current and not voltage for commercial vehicles,” the report says. “MCS increases current by 600% and voltage by 20%, and this brings about new thermal management challenges.

“Active cooling of the cable and connector is required, and at power levels over 3MW, the vehicle inlet will also require cooling. Additional challenges also exist. Truck OEMs buying battery packs from third-party suppliers need to make sure voltage requirements meet the specs of MCS.

“Furthermore, supplying power to the site of groups of these chargers can be challenging, specifically with long lead times on interconnection agreements, transformers, and permits, as well as demand fees.”

IDTechEx says that while MCS will become the standard in Europe and the US, in China co-developers China Electricity Council, and Chademo’s “ultra ChaoJi” are developing a charging standard for heavy-duty electric vehicles for up to 1.8MW. It says battery swapping is increasing in the Chinese truck market.

Battery swapping has the shortest charging downtimes (three to six minutes) of all charging strategies, the report says. “For many Chinese trucks, the battery is behind the cab, in a swappable box that can be lifted and moved to the side.

“Almost all heavy swap-capable trucks in China use a CATL 282kWh LFP pack (weighing 3.2 tonnes), which has helped solve the issue of standardisation when trying to implement swapping. Swap-capable electric trucks are mainly used for short-haul applications (less than 100km) at ports, mining sites, and in urban logistics that require a quick turnaround time”.

“Battery swapping in China is a product of increased policies – targets laid out by the central government and subsidies provided for swap station construction (up to 15%) by the local government help alleviate the issues around high capital costs associated with large swapping stations.” IDTechEx research finds that battery- swapping trucks are now taking up about 50% of the electric truck market in China.

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Source: transporttalk

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HVP appoints Melanie Cook as new CEO

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

HVP Plantations has appointed Melanie Cook as its new CEO, after an extensive search following the retirement of Stephen Ryan in October 2023. Cook commences the role on 8 April 2024, bringing with her a wealth of experience from a 25-year career with ExxonMobil.

HVP Board Chair Therese Ryan said Cook’s appointment was an exciting move, citing her experience and background complement the company’s direction. “We are thrilled to welcome Melanie, whose extensive experience, strategic vision and leadership ability makes her the ideal person to guide HVP Plantations through the evolving landscape of the timber industry,” Ms Ryan said.

Cook held many roles at ExxonMobil, highlighted by Chief Operating Officer in Malaysia and President and CEO in Indonesia, before returning to Australia in 2021 where she led her own consultancy business specialising in Leadership and Energy. Along with her esteemed career, Melanie holds a Bachelor of Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Melbourne.

Interim CEO Josie Pane will work closely with Melanie to ensure a smooth transition, before resuming her role as CFO.

Source: HVP Plantations

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The Rotorua Forest Futures Action Plan

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

The Rotorua Forest Futures Action Plan has been officially launched, a key document in bringing together much of the work that has been completed in the past, highlighting the importance of the forestry sector to Rotorua. This innovative and practical plan recognises Rotorua’s natural strengths in the sector and highlights key focus areas, emphasising the importance of community engagement, environmental stewardship, and economic development.

A unified vision for the future

Development of the Action Plan was a collaborative effort, led by an oversight group made up of seven Rotorua-based organisations: CNI Wood Council, Scion, Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service, Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga, Rotorua Lakes Council, RotoruaNZ, and Whenua Oho. The action plan contains 32 different actions with a series of different action owners.

Key highlights of the Action Plan

  • Moving to carbon zero: With a strong focus on sustainability, the Action Plan aims to contribute to climate change mitigation through increased tree planting and the adoption of carbon-zero practices. This aligns with broader environmental goals and the global effort to reduce carbon emissions. The Action Plan outlines a commitment to diverse planting, supporting a mix of species that contribute to ecological resilience and economic viability. This approach ensures forests are more adaptable to changing climates and market demands.
  • Māori and forests: Central to the plan is the incorporation of te ao Māori perspectives, ensuring that practices are aligned with Māori values and the principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship). This includes initiatives designed by Māori for Māori, supporting their significant role in the forestry sector.
  • Research, science, innovation and commercialisation: The plan highlights the role of forestry in driving economic growth, with a focus on innovation, research, and the development of a circular bioeconomy. This includes investments in wood processing and technology that leverage Rotorua’s position as a hub for forestry excellence.
  • Engaged communities: Recognising the vital role of the community, the plan emphasises engagement and education to ensure that the benefits of forestry are widely understood and shared. This includes efforts to enhance recreational access to forests and educational programs to inspire the next generation of forestry professionals.

A call to action

The Rotorua Forest Futures Action Plan is not just a document but a call to action for all stakeholders to work together towards a shared vision. It represents a significant opportunity to shape the future of forestry in Rotorua, ensuring it is sustainable, inclusive, and economically vibrant.

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Source: RotoruaNZ

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New ACC workplace injury prevention grants

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

ACC is investing NZ$22 million to help create safer workplaces in New Zealand. The workplace injury prevention grants aim to improve health and safety by developing, sharing, investing in, and implementing solutions to problems. The five-year programme began in 2019 and now the fifth round of grants will focus on the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is one of New Zealand’s biggest sectors, employing around 200,000 people, but it also experiences one of the highest rates of harm and injury. In 2022, injury claims in manufacturing resulted in 240,400 lost workdays.

ACC are looking for initiatives that can eliminate or significantly reduce hazards and lower injuries through Good Work Design approaches or the adoption of effective technology and/or engineered solutions.

Applications need to demonstrate how they aim to improve access, experience, and outcomes for Māori and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles. They should also demonstrate how they will aim to improve equitable outcomes for workers at higher risk for injury and increase worker participation and representation. Businesses don’t need to work in manufacturing, but the initiative needs to show direct benefits for the sector. Applicants can apply for between $50,000 and $500,000 (excluding GST) per year for a maximum of three years and applicants will need to co-fund at least 20%. Visit the ACC website for further details.

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Source: ACC

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Shortage in EV mechanics

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Australia is on the cusp of a significant shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) on its roads. The impetus for this change is the government’s plan to introduce a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard. This policy aims to compel car manufacturers to significantly increase their sales of EVs.

While this transition promises environmental benefits, a critical hurdle looms on the horizon: a severe shortage of mechanics qualified to service and repair these new vehicles.

The dearth of skilled workers in the EV mechanic field could be significantly worsened by the anticipated influx of EVs. This potential bottleneck in the service industry threatens to hinder the smooth adoption of this new technology, unless it is proactively addressed.

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Source: ABC News

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Innovation leads $8m tree-change for Glencoe Nursery

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Innovation and safety are the key drivers behind OneFortyOne’s $8 million nursery redevelopment, with a new state-of-the-art undercover handling system leading a number of major upgrades for the Glencoe facility.

The two automated handling lines, designed in Europe and installed on- site, will see millions of radiata pine trees sown, lifted and dispatched under controlled conditions annually, significantly increasing workforce conditions and safety.

This month, as the industry marks International Day of Forests on March 21, flags a milestone for the 3-year redevelopment project, as the new systems become operational. Nursery Manager Craig Torney said the new infrastructure investment will substantially increase efficiency and signals a major shift away from traditional intensive in-field growing.

“The line has the ability to sow about 1-million trees per week, so it’s a lot cleaner and a lot more efficient,” Craig said. “This work would normally be done on the back of a tractor in the elements. Now, from the time the container is introduced to the machine to the time that the finished product is pushed through the wall automatically out into the nursery, there is no human intervention, apart from overseers.”

A new irrigation system is also part of the upgrades, improving efficiency at the establishment stage by decreasing water and chemical usage.

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Source & image credit: OneFortyOne

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Cheese from trees: Fonterra running on wood biomass

In Wood Residues, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Fonterra’s Stirling manufacturing site is celebrating becoming the Co-op’s first manufacturing site in the South Island to get off coal and the first site to be running on 100% renewable thermal energy

Moving to wood biomass means a reduction of 18,500 tonnes of CO2 per year and the site’s electricity supply comes from hydroelectricity. This is a key move to help Fonterra achieve a 50% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 2030 from a 2018 baseline and meet our ambition to be net zero by 2050.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer (acting) Anna Palairet says the Stirling site moving off coal is key to the Co-op reducing its emissions. “Stirling moving to wood biomass is a crucial step for the Co-op to exit coal by 2037. Our collective efforts from on farm, across our operations and our R&D teams to reduce emissions, will help future-proof Fonterra, supporting our ambition to be a long-term sustainable Co-op for generations to come.”

Stirling is known for its high-quality cheese and processes around 10,500 20kg blocks of cheese per day – that’s around 10 blocks per minute. This is a $33 million project that has had local contractors engaged over the last two years with up to 50 contractors onsite per day working to get the boiler up and running and navigating a number of challenges due to COVID-19.

There were also significant economic benefits for the community – the installation has contributed around $10 million into the Otago/Southland region – and additional environmental benefits in wastewater, noise, solid waste to landfill and air discharge.

Fonterra is proud to partner with Wood Energy who provide the wood biomass.

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Source & image credit: Fonterra

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NZ Log Market Report – March 2024

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Very much against the tide of what we had been expecting, the China market has taken a major turn down. Indeed, the current correction might best be described as catastrophic, even by our recent history standards.

The earlier positivity had its foundations in the assumption all would be fine after Chinese New-year. It was expected daily log consumption would quickly recover to normal levels as everyone went back to work.

Unfortunately, this has not happened, with daily usage struggling to reach 40,000 m3 per day in February, when the market was expecting 60,000 per day. As at mid-March, we are seeing usage numbers improve, but too little too late. The problem is NZ Forestry Inc has been delivering 60,000 m3 per day since Christmas.

Radiata log inventory is now at 4 mil m3 with all softwood inventory sitting at close to 5mil. This is regarded as way too high. With demand weak and ample stock, China domestic prices for Kiwi logs are also falling.

China buyers have now folded their arms and refusing orders from Kiwi exporters whilst waiting for prices to hit bottom. As at mid-March, no one knows where the bottom is with no major sales contracts signed and no LC’s issued in close to 2 weeks. This is a massively concerning situation.

Around NZ, there is the beginnings of a big slow down in deliveries to Ports. This will need to happen more dramatically and for some time to enable supply and demand to get back to an equilibrium. Underpinning that is harvesting contractors and transport companies parked up again.

The continuing ebb and flow of the current modus operandi model to China must change. The impacts across the people who do the real work is unacceptable. There has never been a more desperate time for NZ Forestry Inc to get in a room and lock the door until a production and supply framework is sorted out.

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Source: Laurie Forestry

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New forestry expertise joins FOA executive council

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) are pleased to announce Matt Wakelin as its new President.

Matt was elected during FOA’s Annual General Meeting last week, replacing retiring President, Grant Dodson.

Portfolio manager for New Forests, Matt has extensive experience stemming from a lifelong career in forestry – managing forest estates, port services operations, log supply and residues sales for log processing facilities and offering his sector expertise in an executive and corporate capacity.

Matt says New Zealand’s plantation forests, and the forest owners that support them, will be critical for achieving a greener future. “Our plantation forests sequester more than half the country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions and are the only real tool we have available right now to counter rising emissions and meet the 2050 targets.”

The sector also holds the largest role in supporting New Zealand’s emerging bioeconomy, Matt says. “Wood chip, pellets and other forms of wood fibre are progressively replacing coal as an alternative, eco-friendly source of fuel. Carbon intensive materials such as steel and concrete are being subbed out for quality, carbon-locking timber too. The innovative use of wood residues such as pine pollen in the likes of pharmaceutical and skin care products is also changing the way we see and use wood and has real potential to grow the sector,” Matt says. “It’s an exciting time to be stepping in as FOA President and supporting the sector on that growth trajectory.”

Forest Owners Association chief executive Dr Elizabeth Heeg acknowledges the leadership and support of outgoing president, Grant Dodson, during his two-year term. “Grant’s keen observations, industry practicality and deep knowledge of matters outside forestry have become a valuable legacy for our industry as it meets the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Kate Rankin (Wenita Forest Products Ltd) and Darren Man (Earnslaw One) were also elected to the executive council, replacing Steve Chandler and Rowan Struthers respectively. Dean Witehira (Timberlands) will replace Tim Sandall as Vice President for the coming term.

“Steve and Rowan have been a real asset to the executive council. Their commitment to representing forest owner interests, particularly their contributions to the sector’s training, careers and labour space, will have a lasting impact,” Elizabeth says. “We are excited to welcome our new executive members and look forward to seeing their skills, knowledge and fresh perspectives in action.”

Source: New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) via Voxy

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Hyne Group expands into pallet manufacturing

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

The Hyne Group is pleased to announce that pallet manufacturing will soon be a part of the broader Group operations, following the acquisition of Rodpak. Rodpak is a Melbourne based pallet and packaging manufacturer that, like the rest of the Hyne Group, prides itself on strong sustainability credentials and a commitment to producing premium quality products.

This announcement comes just over two years after the Hyne Group partnership with UK based company, James Jones and Sons Ltd, and the combined Group’s focus on achieving growth and expansion.

Hyne Group CEO, Jim Bindon said the acquisition is an exciting addition for the company: “Rodpak is a highly regarded business with a long history in the manufacture of softwood timber pallets, with quality equipment and technology, and great customer relationships. All these factors are very consistent with the core position of the Hyne Group, which has operated in Australia for over 140 years.

“While it will be business as usual for Rodpak’s brand, staff, suppliers and customers, being a part of the Hyne Group brings the strengths of the international connections with James Jones and Sons Ltd, who are a leading pallet manufacturer in Europe with several sites throughout the United Kingdom.

“The broader security of being a part of a large timber manufacturing business, also brings further certainty for the Rodpak business and its customer base.” Mr Bindon said.

The Hyne Group has been a long-term supplier of timber to the pallet industry, and this remains a core focus for the sawmilling operations. Mr Bindon stated the Hyne strategy is not to add new capacity to the pallet market, but rather work with customers and industry participants who are ready to exit the industry or explore strategic partnerships as part of their own succession process.

“Continuing to supply these long-term Hyne pallet customers remains an essential part of the broader Group strategy. This acquisition has no impact on our high-quality, structural framing product range for the construction sector, which continues to be a critical focus for the Hyne Timber business.

“I am very pleased the current owner, Dean Roderick, will be staying on with the business, as he is well respected in the market and indeed internationally within the pallet sector. Dean has been known to the James Jones & Sons pallet business for some years, and he is most highly regarded by them also.” Mr Bindon concluded. 

Dean Roderick said the new ownership model was a welcome move to take the company forward: “Becoming part of a national and global ownership model is a significant milestone for us as a business, for our team members, customers and suppliers and we have been pleased with the process to get to this point. Rodpak is a great business with strong partnerships, built over many years. With the local strength and global reach of the Hyne Group, I am very confident the company is moving in a great direction, and I personally look forward to working with the broader Hyne Group team.” Mr Roderick said. 

The full acquisition of Rodpak will finalise on 1 May 2024 subject to all Completion Precedents being met.

Source: Hyne Group / Rodpak

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99% of Northland’s energy could be met through biomass

In ForestTECH, Wood Residues, WoodTECH by kenwilson

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows the significant role currently unutilised, forestry residues could play – as the region reduces its reliance on fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy. Up to 99% of Northland’s energy needed for heat used in manufacturing has the potential to be met by locally sourced biomass (wood fuel made from residue).

The Northland Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insight and recommendations that will help streamline technology and infrastructure investments, for local businesses and energy suppliers, and cut carbon at the same time.

Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in Northland can expect significant demand for wood residues locally as the region looks toward new, lower-emissions energy solutions for industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland. “On the energy user side, the tech we need – like biomass boilers that use wood residues for fuel – has been proven and available for a number of years now. When you combine this with the fact there is a lot of unutilised wood residue in the region’s forest that is not being exported – it is clear there is significant commercial opportunity for wood processors.”

The region also has a relatively high amount of spare electrical capacity to accommodate higher anticipated demand from fuel-switching projects. “Because of this capacity, capital connection costs are relatively low,” said Sutherland.

The Northland RETA covers 18 sites which consume 4,471 TJ (3,646TJ is fossil fuel) of energy and produce 262,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. The majority (147,000 tonnes) of emissions are coal.

Energy efficiency and demand reduction are key parts of the process – which can lead to significant costs and energy savings and make fuel switching cheaper and easier in the long term.

For businesses on the demand side, Sutherland noted programmes like RETA help with an increasing expectation domestically and within export markets for lower-carbon products and services.

The report includes input from the Northland Inc Regional Economic Development Agency, Transpower, Top Energy and Northpower, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

Head of Investment and Infrastructure at Northland Inc – the region’s economic development agency, Vaughan Cooper, said the RETA gives the local energy users and suppliers confidence to move forward and find opportunities to work together.

“It can be a bit daunting trying to work out where to start with your approach to clean energy use, renewable choices and carbon implications and how these can be built into your business operations,” said Cooper.

“It highlights opportunities to create greater resilience amongst some of Northland’s key sectors, such as forestry, through identifying areas for potential diversification. We look forward to continuing to implement the opportunities identified in this report in partnership with EECA and our business community.”

More >>

Source: EECA

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Opinion: Standing up for our profession

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Having a high profile should not provide anyone a free pass to speak disrespectfully and unfairly about others.

Forestry Australia is appalled by the misinformation about forest scientists and professionals that has been perpetuated by lobbyists and anti-forestry campaigners in recent media articles. It is hard not to think that such narratives have been constructed to suit certain agendas. Statements made are not universally supported by forest scientists, and do not recognise the knowledge, expertise and credibility of Australia’s world-leading forest scientists. It is also disappointing that recent coverage has not included these other voices.

Forestry Australia is a not-for-profit, independent professional association with 1,200 members. Our members are individuals who have high levels of scientific expertise and extensive operational experience. They operate across all aspects of forest, fire and land management, farm forestry and tree growing throughout Australia. Some of our members are current or past employees of State forest agencies responsible for timber harvesting.

These forest scientists and professionals are among the most dedicated and passionate individuals, who make significant and under-acknowledged contributions to forest management, forest conservation and provision of renewable, sustainable and responsibly-sourced timber for the Australian public. This contribution furthers our understanding of forest ecology and forest fire management. It also includes operational expertise in active and adaptive management options that are crucial for building climate resilience and mitigating wildfires.

These forest scientists make significant contributions to managing and conserving our forests for the benefit of society. They provide elite and specialised fire fighting capacity to all major wildfire events, collect and apply seed to revegetate forests severely degraded by bushfires, and are at the forefront of technological advancement such as drones and sophisticated apps to record and monitor forest values. In addition, they conduct the most comprehensive threatened species monitoring programs that exist in this country, and oversee comprehensive management plans that provide high quality, sustainable local hardwood timbers.

It is time to move on from these tiresome, divisive and outmoded forest wars. Australia needs forest management decisions to be informed by pragmatic, open-minded, evidence-based and credible voices who engaged in positive dialogue regarding future forest management. In doing so, it is only right that we recognise the immense positive contributions of the forest scientists and forestry professionals who have dedicated their careers to evidence-based care for our forests.

Dr Michelle Freeman, President Forestry Australia

Source: Forestry Australia

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NZ Forestry Industry Safety Council faces funding cuts

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

The New Zealand forestry industry is facing a potential setback in its safety efforts due to a recent funding cut by WorkSafe, the government agency responsible for workplace safety. WorkSafe has decided to reduce its financial support to the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) by 35-40%, raising concerns about the potential impact on safety initiatives within the industry.

The funding reduction comes despite the forestry sector having one of the highest rates of work-related fatalities and serious injuries in the country. FISC is expected to be forced to lay off staff and scale back on crucial safety programs as a result of the funding cuts.

While acknowledging the safety challenges faced by the forestry industry, WorkSafe maintains that the funding adjustments are necessary to optimize their approach and allocate resources towards areas with the most significant impact. They have also reiterated their commitment to safety and ongoing collaboration with the forestry sector.

“The funding cuts will have a negative impact on safety in the forestry industry,” said FISC council chair, Simon O’Grady. “If there is reduced funding going into the programmes that directly affect health and safety in our forests and other industries, then you would imagine that that … would have a flow-on effect and we’re certainly concerned that might be the outcome.”

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Source: RNZ

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Electric log truck gears up for phase two

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Fenell Forestry will receive an AU$200,000 cash injection from the South Australian state government to commence phase two of an electric log truck trial. The funding for phase two the Fennell Forestry project will examine how heavy vehicle decarbonisation can contribute towards a green circular economy.

It will build on the outcomes of a phase one trial run from last year when Fennell Forestry tested the nation’s first electric heavy vehicle. A further $70,000 in funding will be handed to the South Australian Forest Products Association to develop a State of the Industry Report. The funding announcements followed the release of the South Australian Wood Fibre and Timber Industry Masterplan. The plan aims to provide a vision to further grow and develop the state’s AU$1.4 billion forest and timber industry with three main goals identified aiming to strengthen the industry, domestic manufacturing and infrastructure capability.

These goals include the right resource and capability, a “future focused” workforce and a “clean and green” circular economy. It has been developed by the Forest Industries Advisory Council of South Australia in consultation with the Minister for Forestry Clare Scriven and will be reviewed annually.

This will be done to keep pace with the socioeconomic and environmental changes influencing the industry including international trade, climate change and technological developments. Fennell Forestry Managing Director Wendy Fennell said the region had a great fibre resource in the Green Triangle region. “We are looking forward to working with the government on this,“ she said.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas praised Ms Fennell and Fennell Forestry for their vision and risk-taking. “Decarbonising is an important endeavour and I recognise Fennel Forestry for their leadership,“ he said. “Wendy is a demonstration that risks can take off.“

Chair of the South Australian Forest Products Association Governing Council Tammy Auld said the Masterplan has been developed in consultation with stakeholders from the forest and timber industries through the revitalised Forest Industries Advisory Council with an aim to work towards a future where all fibre grown in the region will be locally processed.

“South Australian Forest Products Association (SAFPA) are grateful to the state government, especially the Minister for Forest Industries, Clare Scriven, for listening and working in collaboration with the industry to deliver this Master Plan“, she said.

“We know that if we can process all the fibre grown in the region, we have the ability to create over 20,000 new jobs, ensuring that South Australia has sovereign fibre capacity at the same time as decarbonizing our economy. With projects such as the Fennell Forestry electric log truck, the government isn’t just talking about change, but supporting transformation and innovation within the region”.

“Collaboration has been a key part in the development of this master plan and I look forward to the ongoing partnership with industry through FIAC-SA as the associated projects are implemented to ensure that all South Australians continue to benefit from the sustainable growth and future success of South Australia’s forest industries.”

Other projects identified as priorities through the master plan are expected to be developed and implemented over the coming three years.

More >>

Source: borderwatch

Wendy Fennell outlined to forestry and log haulage companies along with the manufacturers of the electric battery system, Janus Electric, used to convert their diesel prime mover across to electric at last year’s Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 event. This year, Wendy will be presenting again to the industry as part of the upcoming Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event being held in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. She for the first time will be sharing just how the figures from their in-forest and on-road trials with their electric truck are stacking up after 12 months and lessons from the conversion. Last year’s event was a sell-out. Programme details and registration information can be found on the event website.

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Kiwi firm spearheading heavy fleet green transition

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Bay of Plenty-based company Heavy Vehicle Machinery Solutions (HVMS) is forging global partnerships to help drive decarbonisation efforts in New Zealand’s road transport industry. Formed in October 2022 through parent company East Coast Heavy Diesel (ECHD) in Whakatane, HVMS is on a mission to pioneer low carbon technology and convert existing diesel fleets with cutting-edge battery electric, hybrid fuel and hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Under the leadership of directors Scott Hale, Richard Gatward (both from ECHD) and business development manager Mark Irving, HVMS brings a wealth of expertise in the heavy vehicle domain. For over 15 years, ECHD has been a leader in providing mechanical, engineering and certification to many vehicle fleet operators across the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Recognising the urgency for skilled handling of battery and hydrogen electric drivetrain vehicles, HVMS has positioned itself to meet the evolving needs of operators transitioning to greener fleets. In a significant development, HVMS was awarded a conversion design contract by Thailand-based petroleum giant PTTEP in October last year.

PTTEP, a Fortune 500 company, has a fleet of around 3000 prime movers and tankers that move the crude oil and associated products throughout Thailand. The Scania P114GA (circa 2004) makes up much of its fleet. It is laying out plans to decarbonise and brought the Kiwi firm onboard to help make key first steps.

HVMS are currently finalising contract details for a prototype, with PTTEP to further convert a representative Scania based on the finalised full design conversion from diesel drivetrain to hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV). The Bay of Plenty firm has contracted fellow Kiwi company Global Bus Ventures (GBV), based in Rolleston, as a partner on the project, providing expertise on electrical design and integration.

HVMS and GBV will work collaboratively to deliver the completed FCEV truck conversion design for PTTEP by June this year, then commence the prototype soon after. Meanwhile, another global partnership has been formed with Advanced Electric Machines – a leading UK manufacturer of “rare-earth free” and recyclable electric motor systems.

These “fully recyclable” motors, which remove the need for rare-earth metals and copper in their design, are currently integrated into various electric vehicles, including UK electric truck startup Tevva.

AEM’s motors are also being used in development projects with several global vehicle manufacturers, such as Bentley, SAF-Holland, CNH Industrial and Asia Cab. The partnership with HVMS opens opportunities to expand AEM’s presence in Australasia and explore new markets.

HVMS business development manager Mark Irving says there is a “clear gap” in the electrification of heavy vehicles across the Australasian region and HVMS is working to address that. “Many OEMs globally are designing and at various stages of manufacture on either or both BEV (battery electric vehicle) and FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicles).

“These OEMs are generally not manufacturing vehicles in Australasia, with the exception of Hyzon in Melbourne and GBV in Rolleston, and are closer to larger and more affluent markets than those in our region.”

“HVMS recognises that in eight to 10 years, the flow of OEM equipment to this region of the world will occur at a more regular and cost-effective level, but solutions are still required in the interim,” he says. As well as full battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell conversions, partial (hybrid) conversions using diesel and hydrogen are also an option.

Irving says HVMS has recently acquired exclusive Australasian access to a European designed hybrid conversion system and is working currently with several fleet operators in New Zealand and Australia.

Source: transporttalk

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Taranakipine Saw Shop Upgrade Project

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

The Taranakipine saw shop upgrade project all started with a conversation about a saw trial on site of the Thode designed Variable Pitch & Depth profile with the dream of the projected gains in productivity paying for a state-of-the-art re-fit.

The Thode VPD profile differs from the more traditional ascending and descending patterns that had been more commonly used over the years, by using an alternate layout of the pitching to create a wave looking profile further enhancing the effects of the VPD concept.

Working with Taranakipine’s saw shop contractor, Craig Robinson of Fred Robinson Saw Doctors and sawmill manager Rodney Baker, the trial got the go ahead and two saws were ordered “ready to run” meanwhile Craig and Rodney set about gathering as much information as they could to form solid base line data of where the sawmill was currently performing.

In mid-September 2021, the Thode VPD saws arrived on site and the trial was underway.

There was noticeable difference in performance instantly and at the end of the trial with all the data collected the improvement in sawmill performance was significant!  

This information along with a list of the top-of-the-line Iseli machinery for a full saw shop fit out was then presented to John Sanders, Taranakipine’s Plant and Projects manager so the numbers could be crunched for justification.

The capex put together by John and his team flew through board approval and the order for the Iseli machinery was placed.

Meanwhile we set to work planning the new saw shop layout. We used 3D models of the Iseli machinery to generate several floor plans for different layout options, and through consulting with Craig we found the perfect layout to maximize space and flow through the saw shop for what he and the team needed for ease of day-to-day operation.

Click here for the full story

Source: Thode Knife & Saw

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1500km HD electric truck road test completed

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Electric truck maker Windrose has posted a time-lapse video showing a 1593 km test run completed by its all-electric semi-truck. The electric semi gets 600 km range out of its 729 kWh battery pack and can pull a whopping 49 tonnes.

Windrose chairman and CEO Wen Han was recently interviewed about the new zero emission truck. “In China and in the US somewhere between 8-15% of all GDP goes to transportation,” says Wen. “About 8% of Chinese economy is using trucks and heavy-duty trucks are the majority.”

Han says currently around one third of the cost of truck freight goes to paying for diesel so the switch to cheap electricity has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of road freight. The company recently completed a series of tests including operating the truck at high altitudes and in 47 degree celsius heat.

Australians may also be starting to see electric trucks here very soon after Melbourne based startup NewVolt launched its plans to build an electric truck charging network along the east coast of Australia enabling the decarbonisation of the country’s major road freight routes and potentially saving billions of dollars spent on imported diesel a year.

NewVolt is partnering with truck manufacturers to offer long term contracts with fixed charging fees to give trucking operators the confidence to make the switch and start reaping the benefits.

The company plans to have its first truck charging station up and running in Melbourne in 2025, followed by another 14 sites in key precincts in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Hume Highway from 2027, and then a 40-site metropolitan expansion, with the Pacific, Newell, Sturt & Western Highway connections anticipated from 2030.

Source: thedriven

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New multi-species carbon calculator available

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

A new multi-species carbon calculator developed by Mark Kimberley and Michael Watt to support grower decision-making is freely available on the Forest Growers Research website ( Multi-Species Carbon Calculator (fgr.nz)).

The calculator predicts growth metrics for eleven species that include radiata pine, Douglas-fir and nine other widely planted exotic species. NZ forest growers can use the calculator to explore the impacts of site, rotation length and different silvicultural regimes on tree growth, timber yield, log grade out-turn and carbon sequestration.

The calculator and a help file can be downloaded at : Multi-Species Carbon Calculator (fgr.nz) and an article describing the calculator in more detail is available here.

The growth models within the calculator were developed using permanent sample plot (PSP) measurements. Predictions from the multi-species calculator of carbon, volume and wood density over 100 years for a typical North Island site are shown below for four species.

Source: Scion

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Bushfire control massive priority for Victoria

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

The recent bushfires that swept through timber plantations west of Ballarat reveals a staggering toll on Victoria’s forestry industry. The blaze decimated vast expanses of pine trees managed by HVP Plantations. Approximately 1,000 hectares of pine, destined for both local mills and export markets, could be unsalvageable.

Richard Mailer, HVP Plantations corporate fire manager said that plantations under 12 years old face total devastation, while some older areas may offer slim hopes of salvage. The Mount Lonarch fire stands as HVP’s most significant setback since the Black Summer fires of 2019-20, which ravaged thousands of hectares across their estate.

As Victoria grapples with escalating bushfire risks exacerbated by climate change, the resilience of its plantation forestry sector faces severe tests. David Lindenmayer, a prominent voice in environmental science, underscores the urgent need for smarter fire management strategies and technological innovations to safeguard Australia’s shrinking timber industry from further decline.

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Source: ABC

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Australian housing approvals – Still underperforming

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Australia’s dwelling approvals data continues to underperform demand, with very little positive information. On an annualised basis, detached house approvals for the year-ending January 2024 were 100,737, down 11.6% on the previous year. Total dwellings for the year-ending January 2024 were 161,742 down -14.9% over the same period.

In analysing data, the preference is to provide context by looking at both the positives and the negatives. This month’s housing approvals is challenging as there is mainly negatives which leaves us still searching for the positives.

We’ll see how we go.

On a monthly basis, the data is more volatile than the annual data, with detached houses approved in January 2024 totalling 7,565 down 9.6% on December 2023. Total dwelling approvals were 12,850 down a more moderate 1.0%. To put that in context that is the worst monthly result since June 2012, when house approvals were as low as 7,411.

Examining the States, the year-end percentage change was lowest in South Australia at -9.8%, compared to a very steep change in the ACT where a decline of 25.3% for total dwelling approvals was experienced.

The states and territories are operating to sets of different parameters. Some have a little more demand because of migration flows or project work, some have insufficient land being released (hello NSW!) and others are battling for labour because of infrastructure projects (greetings Victoria).

However, all are struggling with one big constraint: confidence!

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Australian Dwelling Approvals

Source: FWPA

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FIEA Environmental Forestry launched

In Environmental Forestry, ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

With plenty of cooperation from industry leaders, NZ Forest Owners Association and previous delegates, FIEA is pleased to announce the release of our Environmental Forestry 2024 conference programme. This event runs on 25-26 June 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand and will also feature pre-conference and post- conference workshops.

One keynote speaker is Dean Meason, who is a key scientist in Scion’s Forest Flows Research work programme. Forest Flows is a five-year research programme (September 2019 to September 2024) focused on forest hydrology. Scion is leading the MBIE- supported programme. The programme is developing methods to predict and optimise water use and supply in planted forests and answer the questions; Where is the water? Where is it going? and who gets to use it?

This research aims to create a biophysical model of forest hydrology that accurately predicts water storage and release for entire catchments, while also providing data on changes in water quality over time.

The project:

  • Identifies key forest hydrological processes by combining monitoring of soil-plant-atmosphere interactions with a range of targeted ground-based research over the long term.
  • Develops and uses remote-sensing tools to collect data that spans catchments and forests and can be linked to key forest hydrological processes.
  • Creates a model that predicts hydrological flow across a range of NZ- planted forests.
  • Builds a decision-making framework that provides the necessary information to optimise water use in planted forests.

A full list of speakers and programme for Environmental Forestry 2024 can be found on the event’s website. Super early bird discounted registrations are now available, and finish on 29 March 2024. 

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‘Cheaper than a mince pie’

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Tradie charges up electric digger then tows it to work with his Tesla

A New Zealand tradie has simultaneously charged up his electric digger and Tesla while towing the earthmoving machine 2.5 hours to a worksite, and says he is sick of the misinformation spread about electric vehicles. With no noise and no dangerous diesel exhaust pollution, electric earthmoving equipment will be a game changer for the health and wellbeing of millions of machine operators and tradespeople.

“I’m a bit over hearing about what you can’t do with EV – much prefer what you can do,” posted Greg Gedson on NZ EV Owners facebook group. “I just drove 2.5 hrs to a job that starts in the morning. Stopped to charge the car and the digger on the way, only needed 20 mins.”

The all-electric digger, a Sany SY19E electric excavator, was recently reviewed by Gavin Shoebridge on his EV YouTube channel Ecotricity NZ. The digger has a 22 kWh lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery enabling it to run non-stop for 6 hours on the job site.

“This thing will run all day long for less than the price of a mince pie,” says Shoebridge. With this thing you can quite literally bury your competition.” According to 1news.co.nz the cost of a mince pie in New Zealand in 2022 was $5. To fully charge a 22 kWh battery for $5 the price of electricity would have to be around $0.23 per kWh making Shoebridge’s mince pie claim highly plausible.

While kiwi tradies are already reaping the benefits of going all electric, some Australian politicians are attempting to rehash the culture wars against electric vehicles after the government recently announced its intention to legislate vehicle efficiency standards. A pollution standard that only Russia and Australia still fail to have in place.

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Source: thedriven

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New 40,000 hectares to open in Tasmania

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

In Tasmania, a dispute has ignited over the state’s forests, pitting the last remaining Liberal government in Australia against conservationists and industry stakeholders. The government’s proposal to open an additional 40,000 hectares of native forest for logging has stirred significant controversy, challenging a previous agreement forged in 2012 aimed at resolving long standing conflicts dubbed the “forest wars.”

The move has drawn criticism from conservationists, forest industry representatives, and former politicians. Concerns abound that this decision could revive past conflicts and prompt consumer boycotts. Notably, the Tasmanian Forest Products Association has expressed disappointment, advocating for a thorough examination of the land involving a diverse array of stakeholders.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff has defended the decision, asserting its necessity to address wood supply challenges. However, opponents argue that the move could endanger jobs and tarnish Tasmania’s environmental standing. Former Greens leader Bob Brown has strongly condemned the decision as a betrayal of trust and urged federal intervention to safeguard the forests.

The Labor Party has yet to unveil its forestry policy.

More >>

Source: News.com.au

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March NZ log market update

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

History is a great predictor of the future, and the log market is no different. March export prices have been released and it feels as though we’re trying to climb a barbed wire fence, but the problem is we’re currently stuck with one leg on either side, our crotch is snagged on a barb and our feet are slipping. We’re starting to feel some pain and we’re not sure how much more we’ll have to endure before our feet find firm ground.

March prices have dropped around $10/M3 from February and while a drop was not entirely unexpected, the quantum is a pain point. There’s three key metrics that determine export log prices, CFR price (sales price in $USD in the export market), shipping costs and foreign exchange, and unfortunately all three are causing our feet to slip this month. It’s not unusual for CFR price to drop post Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays as the Chinese populus slowly return to work from the longest break of the year and take a while to crank the various industries back into life. Post holiday demand has been very weak and, with NZ and other countries continuing to supply over the holiday period, inventories have increased around 1Mm3 to around 4Mm3. While historically this figure is at the lower end of the total inventory position scale post CNY, with consistently lower log demand now a new norm, 4Mm3 still represents around 65 days inventory which is similar to previous years’ when demand was significantly higher.

Foreign exchange jumped a cent early in the month following the Reserve Bank Governors’ comments and a generally weaker greenback. Freight has caused our feet to slide the most with the Suez Canal scuffle increasing the bulk vessel demand in the Atlantic and resulting in a shortage of vessels in the Pacific. This has resulted in vessel costs increases of around $US8/m3 over the past 6 weeks and unfortunately, like Adrian Orr, these shipping issues are problematic and likely to be around for a while.

The general outlook for China hasn’t really changed with the property market in its third year of downturn. The country’s leaders have just finished their week-long national congress with pledges to boost employment and stabilise the property market, which has historically made up around a quarter of the economy. However, much like Chloes’ recent post promotion speech, the CCP pledges are long on rhetoric and short on practical and workable solutions. There’s no hiding the demographical issues China is facing with a reducing and ageing population which will struggle to fill the availability of new homes currently on the market. The IMF recently released their projections of a 45% fall in housing investment based on 2021 figures and asserted that ‘an accelerated cleanup of distressed developers and other policies will help smooth the path to a smaller, more sustainable role for real estate in the economy’.

There’s no denying the need for a reduction in NZ supply to match the new level of demand in China and this is happening slowly. Volume from our cousins over the ditch has resumed into China, albeit at a low but not insignificant level, and supply from other countries has reduced to a trickle due to a myriad of issues. We have seen a couple of vessels heading to India from NZ in recent months, but this isn’t a silver bullet – yet. NZ supply will seasonally start reducing as it gets wet and depending on how far into the undies the barb penetrates, the private sector supply will react accordingly. Longer-term fixed price contracts are becoming an important tool for forest managers to help de-risk the export returns for clients and provide exporters with some committed volume over the medium term with which they can plan sales and shipping rotations.

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Source: Forest360

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VicForests to close 30 June 2024

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

State-owned logging business VicForests will cease to exist from June 30 this year. It is the first time a decision on VicForests’ future has been revealed, after the Victorian government deregistered it as a state business corporation in September last year, removing the requirement for it to be commercially focused.

The development comes after native forest logging ended in Victoria on January 1 and VicForests’ management of community forestry, including the harvesting of wind-thrown timber, ended on February 5. 

It is not yet clear what will happen to VicForests employees or the wider sector. Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) industrial organiser Kassey Dickie said today’s announcement would result in job losses for some members.

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Source: ABC News

Please Note: VicForests has released a follow up statement (posted below).

Setting the record straight – VicForests

Recent public commentary about the closure of VicForests has included numerous false and misleading claims

VicForests knows there are individuals and organisations who are opposed to native timber harvesting who will be celebrating VicForests’ closure. But this doesn’t mean it’s open season – and it will never be acceptable to treat the men and women of VicForests with blatant disrespect.

False claims do harm. This includes the impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people who have dedicated themselves to the management of forests for future generations.

The most offensive category of false claims being made is the suggestion VicForests is “rogue” or a “cowboy agency”. These claims are demonstrably false – but repeated often by those opposed to the legal activity undertaken by VicForests in furtherance of longstanding government policy.

VicForests is a government agency, overseen by an independent Board and otherwise subject to the ordinary governance obligations and control of any government agency. The executives and staff of VicForests are Victorian public servants. It is self-evident that if VicForests was acting otherwise than in accordance with Government policy – or behaving illegally – then it was clearly within the power of the Government to intervene.

The system of regulation in Victoria is based on compliance with explicit rules to manage known threats to the environment that have been developed by forestry and environmental experts over many years. These legal rules balance environmental objectives with economic and social objectives. This balance is required by the Principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development – which is a cornerstone of Australian and International environmental law.

VicForests has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to meeting, and often exceeding, the explicit rules set by Government. It has never been prosecuted by the independent environment regulator. 

This is backed up by the latest published independent audit result from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, which saw VicForests achieve an average of 96% compliance across four environment areas: environmental values in State forests, conservation of biodiversity, operational planning and record keeping, and coupe infrastructure for timber harvesting operations. The 96% average compliance findings are a testament to the work our staff undertake in Victoria’s state forests.

So contrary to false claims, our people are passionate about the health of forest ecosystems and remain committed to the care of Victoria’s forests. Our staff have specialist degrees and are professionals in a range of fields from environmental and forest scientists to ecologists, policy and compliance officers, research and modelling analysts. Our expert foresters specialise in tactical and operational planning, roading, harvesting and contract management, silviculture and native forest regeneration.

This includes foresters who have put their lives at risk over the last month, as they have many times before, directly fighting fires threatening people, homes and forests throughout Victoria.

And we are proud of the legacy we leave behind. Timber harvested by VicForests is now in countless homes, public buildings and products throughout Australia. Through the 20 years of its existence VicForests met its mission by selling 25.9 million m3 of timber to customers, generating around $1.8 billion in direct revenue for the State and many billions in economic activity – mostly in rural and regional towns.

More >>

Source: VicForests

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International Day of Forests celebrates innovations in forestry

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Yesterday (21 March 2024) was the United Nations International Day of Forests, an important day to raise awareness of forest habitats and encourage local, national and international efforts to protect and restore forests. The theme for 2024 is Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World.

Head of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Matt Lowe said innovation was vital to Australia’s forestry future. “Australia’s forests are recognised and valued for their diverse ecosystems, unique biodiversity, and the forest products that they produce” Mr Lowe said. “They provide a wide range of benefits, including environmental, economic, and cultural.

“It is important that we investigate and implement more innovative ways to grow Australia’s plantation estate and through that work enhance the future of Australia’s forestry industry. “Last week the Australian Government launched the $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI), in partnership with the University of Tasmania.

“AFWI will put Australia’s forest and wood products industries on the front foot, supporting applied research, development and innovation. “It will create opportunities for research and innovation to support the sectors’ future, building on the work delivered through the regional National Institute for Forest Products Innovation. “It is an exciting time for forestry research in Australia as we work towards unlocking the full potential of wood as the ultimate renewable material and growing our forests and forestry industry.”

The department will participate in the FAO Asia-Pacific Forests and Innovation Panel as part of the International Day of Forests. 

More >>

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Government

Editor’s Note: As we celebrate the International Day of Forests 2024, here is a short video showcasing the hidden secrets and innovations being unlocked within our forests.

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FIEA wood residues conference – Call for speakers

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Following on from last year’s record turnout, planning for Residues2Revenues 2024 is now well underway. The NZ forest industry is looking to capitalise on the growth and demand in biofuels, bioenergy and a range of renewable bioproducts. This event helps forest owners, contractors and processors better understand the real value of wood residues and the opportunities in supplying this market.

FIEA would like to invite those keen on being a presenter at our 3rd annual event, please submit your interest as soon as possible. For prospective speakers, please email John Stulen with the following:

  1. A presentation title for a case study, innovation or other practical topics of interest for the industry.
  2. A short abstract (approx 100 words) to help us to learn more about your work and compare it with others to allow us to choose which presentations to accept.

While this event has a NZ focus, last year a good contingent from Australia attended in person and many other internationals followed the live event online.

The Residues2Revenues 2024 conference runs on 30-31 July 2024 at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua, New Zealand. Further details can be found on the event’s website, woodresidues.events.

Residues2Revenues 2024

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46,000 kilometres for SCA’s electric log truck

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

SCA’s electric log truck continues to transport wood between Gimonäs timber terminal and Obbola paper mill, has now been in operation for over 1.5 years, covering over 46,000 km; SCA testing truck for log transport directly from forest.

SCA’s electric log truck continues to transport timber between Gimonäs timber terminal and Obbola paper mill outside Umeå. It has now been in operation for over 1.5 years. – Everything is working as intended, and they are receiving inquiries from haulage companies and others who want to learn more about heavy electric vehicle transport, says Mikael Sundelin, Head of Business Development at Industrial Supply.

Since SCA’s unique electric log truck was put into operation in June 2022, it has covered a distance of 46,000 kilometers, equivalent to more than one lap around the globe. Over a year of operation, the electric log truck contributes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 55,000 kg per year.

With a capacity to carry 80 tons, the electric log truck’s daily task is to transport logs between Gimonäs timber terminal and Obbola paper mill outside Umeå. The round trip covers a distance of 30 km, and it completes approximately six rounds per day. The truck needs to be charged about two times during a working day.

Different tests

The significant interest in the electric log truck has led it to undertake some other tasks. In 2023, SCA drove it on a forest road with winter conditions outside Umeå to assess its ability to transport wood directly from the forest to Obbola paper mill. It also faced a more challenging environment during a few March days in Näsåker, together with Själander Åkeri AB, a partner of SCA Skog.

“It has been fun and rewarding to be able to test the vehicle with both longer and heavier transports in proper winter conditions and in a more hilly landscape than we have around Umeå. All tests have gone very well”, says Mikael. SCA receives data, including electric consumption primarily, from Scania.

“It is evident that consumption has decreased as our drivers become more experienced and learn to drive it in an optimal way. During winter, especially on extremely cold days, it consumes more electricity, but we already knew that – it’s the same for electric cars”, says Mikael.

Drive sustainability development

All driving and various tests provide SCA with valuable insights into electric propulsion for heavy transport. “This is, as mentioned, a first step towards electric propulsion in heavy road transport, which is incredibly significant. It’s exciting that SCA, together with innovative partners, can drive sustainability development, says Mikael. We also receive enquiries from haulage companies and others who want to learn more about electric propulsion for heavy transport for goods other than logs.”

To explore the large and significant shifts that have occurred and operational results from larger transport fleets, including log transport operations and Australasia’s electric log truck operating in the Green Triangle region of Australia, over the past 12 months, this region’s major Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event has been set up for the forestry, log haulage and contracting companies in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Last year was a sell-out. Programme details can be found on the event website.

Source: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA)

[Editors update: The distance is 46,000 km, not 4,600 as initially reported. This has been corrected in the article]

 

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Toroawhi initiative comes to an end

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) is announcing today that our Toroawhi / Worker Champion initiative is coming to an end. The Toroawhi initiative started in February 2020 as a pilot sponsored by WorkSafe. But the funding and initiative will finish at the end of March 2024.

“We make this announcement with sadness, but also with pride for the work our Toroawhi, Richard Stringfellow and Wade Brunt, have done over the last four years,” said Safetree CEO, Joe Akari.

“They have visited many forestry businesses across the Motu, talking with hundreds of forestry people. They have worked hard to improve worker engagement and wellbeing, and to support crews and workers to achieve Safetree Certification,” he said.

The initiative helped manage emerging risks. This included following the cyclones last year, where they helped crews deal with the additional risks of harvesting windthrown trees.

FISC acknowledges the great work done by Richard and Wade. They have had a lasting influence on FISC’s work, and on many of the crews and individuals they interacted with.

Safetree has several videos and stories about the initiative which are well worth viewing.

Source: Safetree

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New tool to manage forestry slash

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Better management of forest felling waste has gained new impetus in Cyclone Gabrielle’s wake, with the sector firmly in the spotlight for the impact such waste has had on communities, ecosystems, and farmland downstream from harvest areas.

Rotorua-based forest management company Interpine Innovation has taken a long-used means of measuring forest residue waste and turned it into a highly accurate, digitised means to help companies lower post-harvest waste levels.

The tool promises to ensure forest felling does not turn sites into time bombs ready to detonate in the wake of future Gabrielle-like events.

The “Wagner Waste method” has been used for almost half a century to estimate volumes of remaining forest waste by sampling along transect lines. It is accurate, simple and quick to use, but its role has been largely to assess felling completeness and reconcile yield estimates. “But Gabrielle came along, and the focus has now become more on compliance and what we need to do better as an industry,” says Interpine CEO Te Kapunga Dewes.

More>>

Source: Farmers Weekly

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Pacifica Shipping introduces battery swap e-trucks

In Wood Transport by kenwilson

NZ coastal shipping operator Pacifica Shipping is introducing fully electric battery swap trucks to create one of New Zealand’s lowest emission supply chains for heavy freight.

The company, a division of Swire Shipping (NZ), received NZ$252,000 in co-funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) towards the project.

It will help deploy two XCMG E700 electric trucks, supplied by local distributor Etrucks, to move full containers for the first and last mile at the ports of Auckland and Christchurch. The project is poised to achieve a significant reduction in carbon footprint by eliminating 5,100 conventional combustion engine truck movements and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 250 tonnes annually.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) have joined the initiative as a product partner while Mainfreight and Hilton Haulage have been brought on board as inland transportation partners. The first phase of the project will see the commencement of Mainfreight operating the battery swap trucks between CCEP’s Mount Wellington site and the Port of Auckland.

Operations will soon be expanded to Christchurch with Hilton Haulage operating between Lyttelton Port and CCEP’s Woolston site. The E700’s battery swap technology enables the rapid replacement of discharged battery modules with fully charged ones. This technology minimises operational downtime and enhances productivity.

Source: transporttalk

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“Worlds-first” drive-by wireless charging for electric trucks

In Forest Safety, Wood Transport by kenwilson

A world-first project will attempt to recharge heavy-duty electric trucks as they drive along roads in regional Australia, in a development researchers say could help accelerate adoption of low-emission transport.

The AU$8.2 million project could also be used to wirelessly recharge passenger cars in future, they say, addressing range anxiety and demand for public charging stations. The project, led by Swinburne University of Technology, received an AU$3 million government grant towards developing a prototype of the technology, which could be operational within three years.

The university’s New Energy Technology Research Group lead, Professor Mehdi Seyedmahmoudian said the technology would be a first for Australia and, when successful, the prototype would be the first in the world to top up the batteries of trucks and buses on the move.

“We are trying to charge large electric vehicles wirelessly while they are moving on the road in a very simple way,” he told AAP. “You can imagine 1.5km of road that the vehicles could drive on, obviously with a limited speed, and it would charge the vehicle.”

Prof Seyedmahmoudian said he expected the prototype to work by building coils into the test strip of road and retrofitting existing heavy-duty trucks and buses with receivers to harness the charge. The prototype could deliver around 50 kilowatts of power to boost a vehicle’s battery, which would help to shorten charging time or reduce the need for large batteries in heavy vehicles, lowering their cost and weight.

Dynamic wireless charging for large electric vehicles could make a significant difference in the Australian market, he said, as some transport firms had expressed concern about electric vehicle range. “In Australia, the landscape is very different because we are a huge country, distances are very large, and dynamic wireless power transfer is something very attractive for the future of transport,” he said.

Prof Seyedmahmoudian, who will work on the project with colleagues Saad Mekhilef and Alex Stojcevski, said the AU$3 million, three-year grant from the federal government’s Co-operative Research Centres Projects program would be boosted by support from a range of firms including the Australian Research Board, Siemens, SEA Electric, and Ace Infrastructure.

Source: thedriven

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February NZ log market update

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

February has kicked off with a hiss and a roar with log exporters pulling out the pencil sharpeners and publishing prices in the mid to high $130’s for A grade (except for Bluff and Lyttleton where you poor folks are between $10 and $20/m3 less). This price level has given forest owners a grin that rivals Chloe Swarbricks’ after James Shaws’ resignation and gives numbers that are at least $10/m3 over both the 3 and 5 year averages. This lift is courtesy of an increased CFR price, lower foreign exchange, and steady shipping rates. It’s not all beer and skittles though and anyone that reads the news will be well aware of the continued issues with the Chinese economy and the embattled construction sector.

The Chinese Evergrande debacle continues to unfold with an order from a Hong Kong court to liquidate the company which currently holds the crown of the worlds most indebted developer with over $300 billion yuan in total liabilities. An attempt by Fengtao Property Company, one of Evergrande’s offshoots, to auction off some of its assets was met with zero bids, which indicates the level of demand in the property sector.

There are some glimmers of light through the dark CCP clouds as Reuters reported that the average Chinese city house price rose 0.15% in January, not really a ‘wow moment’ but it is the fastest gain since mid-2021 with growth occurring in half of the surveyed cities. It was also noted that government land sale revenue also gained 1.8% from the previous year which is the first-time sales have risen in two years. How this is happening when there’s 10 years’ housing supply still in the system is anyone’s guess, but sentiment is a huge driver of the Chinese economy which doesn’t really conform to economics 101.

The China market is even more important to NZ now as a number of sawmills in South Korea have closed their doors. While South Korea isn’t a massive player in terms of volume, it is especially significant in that South Korea accepts non-fumigated cargo from NZ. Most of the NZ log cargo is shipped on vessels that have approximately a third of the cargo ‘on deck’ and therefore this cargo must be fumigated on port prior to loading if going to China. The ‘under deck’ cargo in the holds is fumigated enroute which is reasonably straight forward but following the NZ EPA’s effective banning of Methyl Bromide as a fumigant (by requiring large buffer zones), on deck cargos that cannot be fumigated are now mostly de-barked if destined for China. Delivering top deck cargos to South Korea is a good option for those exporters from ports that don’t have de-barkers or the ability to fumigate, and therefore any reduction in Korean demand also reduces the optionality for NZ exporters.

Chinese log inventories have crept up around 50Km3 in the past month and now sit at around 2.6Mm3 which is approximately 40 days’ supply. Chinese New Year celebrations kick off next week and many sawmills have shut early which explains the inventory build and it’s likely that we will see total inventory at the mid 3Mm3 level by the time everyone returns to work. Total log imports into China for 2024 will likely be similar to 2023 at a shade under 40Mm3 which is around 60% of the 2021 levels. NZ has increased its share and currently accounts for around 45% of this total, which is an increase in terms of market share but a decrease in total volume. Supply from Europe and the US has reduced significantly with the Red Sea scuffle potentially keeping the lid on this for the mean time. Australia has recommenced log exports to China, however only in smaller volumes (once bitten twice shy) with the majority of their export volume destined for India.

Log Market Update Graphic

Carbon prices have rallied somewhat with current spot prices at $73.35/NZU. This equates to around $2,200/ha/yr and will likely have many sheep farmers looking at trees as a form of succession planning, despite the negative press from the noisy few. The next Govt NZU auction is scheduled for March, and it will be interesting to see if any bids clear the floor price following the failures of 2023. Nicola Willis will be watching very carefully as the auction revenue will probably be factored into the 2024 books to help fill the Roberston fiscal hole.

So, all in all 2024 is shaping up pretty well with solid export prices, strong domestic demand, (especially pruned logs) and a reasonable general outlook. All eyes will be on China demand once everyone returns from new year celebrations and hopefully a few weeks R&R will have them return to work with renewed fizziness about building things with wood. NZ supply will be interesting over the next few months as weather and prices increase woodlot activity, and the Taupo windthrow salvage starts to wind down. Whether we can hold the price gains through into Q2 is yet to be seen but like any good commodity trader, we’ll take what we can get.

More >>

Source: Forest360

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Whiteheads partners with Springer for sawmill upgrade

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

A decade-long partnershipIn a move dating back to 2008, Australian company WHITEHEADS Timber Sales initially conceived the idea of modernizing its sawmill. Strategically aligning with SPRINGER and its partners, this ambitious project for the company brings top-notch technology to Australia’s sawmill industry – beyond anything previously known in the region. Recognizing the imperative for cutting-edge wood processing technology, WHITEHEADS Timber Sales and SPRINGER embarked on a transformative journey to reshape the operation.

Setting industry standardsThe upcoming sawmill upgrades will showcase the highest process efficiency, the lowest energy consumption, and incorporate the latest generation of robotic-based machine design and functionality. Additionally, state-of-the-art scanning, optimizer, and data processing technology will be integrated, reinforcing a commitment to a technologically advanced approach to wood processing.

Comprehensive sawmill overhaul

This large project includes a saw infeed transformation with the latest LMC (Log Motion Control) generation, featuring an all-new SPRINGER measurement conveyor and LINCK seamless servo pos centering infeed – powered by MICROTEC’s latest generation of real time scanning and image processing technology. In the next step, a complete overhaul of the log infeed deck will introduce SPRINGER’s cutting-edge screw feeding technology, promising seamless and efficient processing.

Revolutionizing greensorter operations

The Greensorter will undergo a comprehensive rebuild and upgrade, featuring the all-new SPRINGER trimmer line. The trimmer line incorporates next-gen board manipulation gear such as the E-loader, beltless trimmer system E-cut with servo pos PET, and a fully automated visual autograding system. Powered by MiCROTEC’s GE900 series with ViSCANplus, this system ensures structural grade prediction on top of fully automatic visual grading, while the enhanced sorter management system VARiOSORT adds a new dimension to efficiency.

Project redefining industry standards

WHITEHEADS Timber Sales and SPRINGER are investing significantly to ensure the upgrade will redefine industry standards and establish a new benchmark for sawmill operations globally. The installation of these upgrades is scheduled to commence in 2025, marking a pivotal moment in WHITEHEADS Timber Sales’ journey toward operational excellence. In collaboration with SPRINGER, the Australian company is not only upgrading its sawmill but pioneering a transformative approach that will undoubtedly set new standards in wood processing technology, ensuring a future that is both efficient and sustainable; and the next project cooperation is already in the pipeline.

About SPRINGER: The family-owned company located in Friesach (Austria) plans, develops, and produces machines and state of the art solutions for the wood processing industry. All processes, such as transporting, sorting, grading of wood, and automation, are implemented at the highest technological level. Special attention is placed on sustainability. The climate-neutral company employs more than 500 people worldwide and is led by the family’s third generation, Timo Springer and Gero Springer.

Source: SPRINGER

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JOUAV unveils advanced airborne Lidar sensor

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

JOUAV has released the JoLiDAR-1000 Lidar sensor designed specifically for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) as the latest addition to its array of high-performance Lidar sensors for use in UAV applications such as GIS, surveying and precision powerline inspections.

The JoLiDAR-1000 comes with a host of features tailored to numerous mapping and surveying applications. These include advanced technology utilizing a 1,000m medium-range laser scanner and full-frequency RTK+IMU fusion technology. The result is a measurement accuracy of 5mm and a repetition accuracy of 10mm. With a line scanning speed ranging from 10 to 300 lines/s and a maximum of 7 returns, the sensor ensures detailed and accurate data collection.

The JoLiDAR-1000 also excels in enhanced detection capabilities, featuring a FOV of 100° and an angular resolution of 0.001°. This enables high-precision detection of objects even at extended distances of up to 1,000m.

Wide array of applications

The sensor’s compact design ensures easy deployment and control without compromising on performance. Integrated with mature technologies such as GNSS high-precision positioning systems, inertial navigation systems, and a 26MP RGB camera, the JoLiDAR-1000 offers seamless and efficient data acquisition.

With streamlined operation processes that eliminate the need for base station setup and ground control points, coupled with high-precision POS solution computation and point cloud fusion capabilities, JoLiDAR-1000 emerges as a fitting choice for a diverse array of applications. These include terrain mapping, powerline inspection, mining surveying, coastline measurement, emergency mapping, natural resource surveying, and immersive 3D modelling, among others.

According to JOUAV, the unveiling of JoLiDAR-1000 marks a significant milestone in the realm of UAV Lidar technology, aimed at reshaping industries and elevating standards of efficiency and precision in data acquisition and analysis.

Headquartered in Chengdu, China, the company specializes in the research & development, production, sales and service of industrial drones. With the ambition to take a leading role, it actively promotes the application of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing UAVs, driving innovation in the industry.

For more details, see here.

Source: gim-international

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Blenheim company turning wood chips into graphite

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

In New Zealand, a Blenheim company is turning wood chips and sawdust into graphite to be used in EV batteries.

CarbonScape was founded in 2006 – with a focus on making carbon products using waste biomass like wood chips to create biochar to help soil health and also green coke coal for steelmaking.

However, the company has changed its focus to offering customers its patent technology that converts woody biomass to biographite. In recent years CarbonScape has received an NZ$18 million investment from Swedish and Finnish company Stora Enso – considered one of the biggest forest, paper and packaging companies in the world.

In December it also won a multi-million-dollar grant from Callaghan Innovation. CarbonScape’s finance director Oliver Foster told Bryan the company wants to become the preferred graphite choice when it comes to manufacturing batteries.

Listen here.

Source: RNZ

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Boost to electrify Australian trucking fleets

In Forest Safety, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Australian start-up NewVolt has revealed plans to build an electric truck charging network along the east coast of Australia, enabling the decarbonisation of the country’s major road freight routes and potentially saving billions of dollars spent on imported diesel a year.

NewVolt plans to have its first truck charging station up and running in Melbourne in 2025, followed by another 14 sites in key precincts in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Hume Highway from 2027, and then a 40-site metropolitan expansion, with the Pacific, Newell, Sturt & Western Highway connections anticipated from 2030.

The sites will be fully powered by renewable energy with regional truck stops tapping into their own locally produced solar power. The sites will also include a driver lounge, access to office space, wifi and amenities.

“Australia needs to be fully charged and ready for electrified freight,” said Andy Evans, chairman and co-founder of NewVolt. The NewVolt Network is designed to provide Australia with a pathway to decarbonise road freight by delivering price-certain, reliable, renewable energy through a national network of shared charging infrastructure.”

Electrifying fleets a rational choice for trucking industry

Unlike the consumer vehicle market, in which car makers use advertising to tap into customers’ emotions to sell their vehicles, trucking is just about the numbers. And the numbers for electrifying road freight are very compelling, with the potential to save the trucking industry billions of dollars per year.

NewVolt is collaborating with truck manufacturers to offer long term contracts with fixed charging fees to give trucking operators the confidence to make the switch and start reaping the benefits.

The company says that Australia consumed around 16 billion litres of diesel in 2023, costing the country around $30 billion. Based on their projections, which include 50% growth in road freight by 2040, NewVolt says the electrification of the entire trucking industry would require around 70,000 GWh of renewable energy per year.

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Source; thedriven

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Komatsu & Williams Racing reignite partnership

In Forest Safety, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Leading heavy equipment manufacturer Komatsu has signed a multi-year deal with Williams Racing to become the Principal Partner of the British team from the start of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) season.

Komatsu was a key partner of Williams Racing in Formula One during the 1980s and 1990s, a period of abundant success for the team. The most notable achievements were in 1996 and 1997, when Komatsu supported Williams Racing to Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve respectively. With an eye to the future, both brands are excited to build on their shared history as they embark on a new era.

Tokyo-based Komatsu has been leading innovation in the equipment manufacturing sector for more than 100 years. As embodied by its brand promise, “Creating value together,” the company believes that collaborative partnerships are the optimal way to create a lasting positive impact.

“Komatsu and Williams Racing have shared values around innovation and the development of our people,” said Hiroyuki Ogawa, President and CEO of Komatsu Ltd. “Through our partnership we look forward to creating value together, both on and off the track. Our partnership with Williams Racing, is aligned with Komatsu’s mission to create value through manufacturing and technology innovations to empower a sustainable future where people, businesses and our planet can thrive together.”

James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams Racing said: “Williams Racing is delighted to be rekindling our relationship with Komatsu. We have enjoyed huge success together in the past and reuniting is a significant step in Williams Racing’s long-term mission to return to the front of the grid. Both Williams and Komatsu are committed to attracting and developing the best young talent in pursuit of our goals and we look forward to working together again.”

Komatsu’s logo and branding will feature prominently on the 2024 Williams Racing livery, as well as the team’s overalls and kit, during the upcoming Formula One season.

With operations in more than 140 countries, Komatsu is a global provider of premium heavy equipment, services and solutions. The company introduced the world’s first autonomous dump truck in 2008 and is helping customers advance towards carbon neutrality with its growing range of electric, hybrid and fuel cell construction and mining equipment.

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Source: Komatsu

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Wingtra debuts pioneering Lidar drone solution

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Wingtra has unveiled its innovative Lidar-drone solution. The new Lidar payload is designed to seamlessly integrate the efficiency, ease of operation, and high accuracy of the WingtraOne GEN II drones with an advanced Wingtra-engineered Lidar sensor, offering notable advancements in the industry. Wingtra is a prominent player in drone technology.

The Swiss-based company’s solution is already gaining traction worldwide, with customers in various sectors relying on the WingtraOne GEN II for efficient, safe and frequent mapping for photogrammetric analysis of worksites. The addition of the meticulously engineered Lidar payload offers an all-encompassing solution, covering everything from the initial discovery phase through to project implementation and infrastructure maintenance.

By integrating a top-tier Hesai scanner, Inertial Labs IMU and NovAtel GNSS, Wingtra Lidar dramatically reduces the need for time-consuming post-processing strip alignment, delivering precise terrain information immediately from each efficient flight.

Promising first user responses

Julian Mackern, product manager at Wingtra, expressed his enthusiasm: “We’re already seeing our first customers comment how surprisingly easy it is to set up, fly and generate a high-quality point cloud. And as always, we keep our promise with the data: high-precision, reliable and repeatable.”

Carlos Femmer, director of data acquisition at HDR, an internationally renowned American design and engineering firm, shared his insights from testing the Wingtra Lidar payload: “We’re seeing [USGS topographical] quality level zero results on hard surfaces, which are quality results. We were able to test the horizontal and vertical strip alignment quality. We looked at both vegetated areas and non-vegetated areas, and it’s very clean, it aligns well. There’s minimal noise as compared to other Lidar sensors in this price range and it delivers exceptional overall precision.”

Notably, Wingtra Lidar is also developed to reduce field time, requiring no calibration and initializing in just one minute. The intuitive Wingtra Lidar app and automated experience quickly build confidence even for those new to Lidar data capture, saving at least an hour per survey compared to other systems in its class.

Leo Liu, director of mapping solutions at Inertial Labs, praised the efficiency of the system: “Wingtra Lidar capture and processing is super-efficient. Technically, if you have everything structured, it’s literally one click, and it’s done to get you to that point cloud. In terms of drone Lidar capture, the goal is that it has to get cheaper and simpler to use.”

Wingtra Lidar offers 3cm vertical accuracy, verified by lead customers as top of the range from a 60m (200ft) flight height. Point density is top of its class, and the WingtraOne GEN II’s design and automated flight pattern ensure consistency across different pilots.

For more information, visit Geo-matching

Source: gim-international

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First unmanned forestry machine tested

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

A study published in the Journal of Field Robotics assessed the world’s first unmanned machine designed for autonomous forestry operations. Investigators demonstrated that using computer vision, autonomous navigation, and manipulator control algorithms, their newly developed machine can safely, accurately, and efficiently pick up logs from the ground and manoeuvre through various forest terrain without the need for human intervention.

The research represents a significant milestone in the field of autonomous outdoor robotics, which could reduce the need for human labour, thereby increasing productivity and reducing labour costs, while also minimizing the environmental impact of timber harvesting.

The autonomous terrain vehicle was designed and built at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. It is the first time in world history that forwarding is done completely without human intervention. The researchers behind the successful trial see it as an important step towards more sustainable forestry.

“This will redraw the map for the industry and how other players in the area view operations such as these. We have worked extremely intensively with this test, and it feels very nice that it actually works,” Magnus Karlberg, professor at Luleå University of Technology said.

“Besides its short-term effect on forestry, the technological advancements that come with autonomous forestry machines have the potential to address current environmental issues. As demonstrated in this study, by embracing cutting-edge technologies like autonomous navigation and manipulation algorithms, the unmanned machine provides not only timber harvesting with greater efficiency but also promotes sustainable forestry,” said corresponding author Pedro La Hera, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

“Automated operations can be highly accurate and effective in terms of collateral damage to adjacent ecosystems, which helps us to be more ecologically friendly than we currently are.”

The full report can be viewed here

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Source: techxplore

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New CEO for Forest Industry Contractors Association

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) has announced the appointment of Rowan Struthers as its new CEO. An experienced professional who has worked across the forestry sector in various roles including senior leadership and forest management, Rowan will take over the job from departing CEO Prue Younger who finishes up in March.

Having graduated from Canterbury University Forestry School, Rowan Struthers has over 30 years of experience working in forestry. He has worked in most facets of the industry including silviculture, woodflow/supply chain management, harvesting, log trading, human resource management, sales and marketing of processed products, building supplies management, forest procurement and general management.

Rowan has held senior leadership roles in a diverse number of companies that include Fletcher Challenge Forests, Umbraco (a privately owned building suppliers company managing multiple sites), Hancock/Manulife and most recently Chief Operations Officer at China Forestry Group. He has also been a member of the NZFOA executive.

FICA Chair Nick Tombleson says the FICA Board is delighted to have Rowan on board, who will take the organisation forward into its next stage. “Rowan has a huge amount of knowledge across so many parts of our industry. That will be of huge benefit to our forestry contractor members and we’re looking forward to drawing on his experience as we take FICA into the next period,” he says.

Rowan says that he is ready to take on the new challenge and will be focused on building a professional, efficient and sustainable contractor workforce. “Over the thirty years I have spent in the industry, a key part of my success has been the collaborative relationships I have been able to develop with Contractors,” he says.

“A professional, efficient and sustainable contractor workforce is key to ensuring the long-term future of the NZ Forest Industry. This role is a great opportunity to work collaboratively with multiple stakeholders to further the good work that has already been done by many. I look forward to the challenge.”

Source: FICA

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30,000 Machine Milestone

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Tigercat Industries is pleased to announce that it has built and shipped its 30,000th machine in January 2024, just over 30 years into its existence. From humble beginnings in 1992 when Tigercat had a single product, very little dealer representation, and produced just a handful of machines, the company has grown steadily, expanding both its production capacity and product breadth.

A few quick facts

  • Tigercat debuted the 726 feller buncher in April 1992 at a forestry equipment show in Quitman Georgia.
  • By 1995, Tigercat had two drive-to-tree feller bunchers, two track feller bunchers, and two bunching shear models with distribution in Canada and the United States.
  • By 1997, Tigercat had a full product line to offer southern US dealers with the addition of a knuckleboom loader and the industry’s first successful, serial production hydrostatic skidder.
  • In 2000, Tigercat was well on its way to becoming the dominant player in steep slope harvesting applications, offering a six-wheel drive skidder and the L830 feller buncher. Both were destined to become flagship products for the company. In addition, Tigercat entered the vegetation management sector with its first mulcher carrier. The range of carriers and attachments that have followed are crucial inputs to wildfire mitigation strategies in many regions globally.
  • By 2005, Tigercat was present in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and Sweden among other countries.
  • In 2012 Tigercat had grown in 20 years from two to 1,000 employees and introduced the 880 logger, the first in a series of versatile, forest duty swing machines.

Today, Tigercat has the most complete full-tree product line-up in the industry, along with a growing range of CTL harvesters, forwarders and harvesting heads. Tigercat launched a new brand, TCi in 2022 and put the TCi badge on its first dozer, the 920. In the last four years, the company has been developing a line of material processing products with two launches to date – the 6500 chipper and 6900 grinder. 2024 will see a slew of new and exciting products introduced to the market.

Tigercat recently opened a new facility dedicated to the material processing product line and is currently building an additional facility. When complete the company will have over 1.4 million square feet of manufacturing capacity. That’s 130,000 square metres or 32 acres under roof. Over 160 dealer locations in 25 countries represent the Tigercat and TCi brands, along with an extensive factory support network. The company employs over 2,000.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is Tigercat’s dedication to the customer base and its relentless pursuit of innovation and improvement.

Source and image credit: Tigercat

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Trimble and DroneDeploy improved UAV mapping

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Trimble has unveiled the integration of the Trimble Applanix POSPac Cloud post-processed kinematic (PPK) GNSS positioning service, featuring CenterPoint RTX, with the UAV-based mapping and data collection capabilities of DroneDeploy’s reality capture platform. With the Trimble cloud positioning service, DroneDeploy customers can expect centimetre-level accuracy and an automated, streamlined workflow when performing reality capture with drones.

To achieve centimetre-level accuracy with its high-accuracy offering, DroneDeploy collaborated with Trimble and its Applanix POSPac Cloud PPK service using Trimble post-processed CenterPoint RTX. The user-friendly cloud API enables the post-processing of GNSS kinematic positions based on dual-frequency observables logged by the drone and CenterPoint RTX.

The Trimble RTX family of corrections services offers users real-time and post-processed centimetre-level accuracy almost anywhere in the world. Delivering corrections via satellite or cellular/IP, Trimble RTX removes the need for base stations and simplifies workflows for drone operators. With no on-site setup, a fixed global datum, and reduced time in the field, the Applanix POSPac Cloud PPK solution with RTX greatly enhances accuracy and workflow efficiency.

Drag-and-drop geospatial data collection

“This collaboration with DroneDeploy is leading the trend for PPK-enabled drone data capture without base stations, enabled by Trimble RTX,” said Joe Hutton, director of inertial technology and airborne business at Trimble. “This evolution will expand the possibilities for operators who can now more quickly and more consistently deliver highly accurate maps, enabling drones to be used in precision geospatial applications.”

The enhanced capabilities afforded to DroneDeploy customers using Applanix POSPac Cloud PPK and RTX will elevate the accuracy of 3D reality capture models. This opens up new opportunities for drone operators across various industries and applications, including construction, topography and temporal analysis.

Source: gim-international

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Blue gum expansion & mechanised planting planned

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Australia’s dwindling timber reserves could be exhausted in less than a decade, but industry experts are hoping a new native nursery in Western Australia could help ease the pressure. In the coastal city of Albany, 450 kilometres south of Perth, Form Forests and Environment director Darryl Outhwaite grows native Australian plants for carbon capture and revegetation projects right across the state.

The bulk of his trees, however, are destined for blue gum plantations that dot the south-west landscape and feed paper pulp mills. Following the Cook government’s native logging ban, the Albany tree farmer is expanding the nursery from two to three million seedlings a year to keep up with demand, and purchased a mechanised planting machine — the first of its kind in Australia.

Mr Outhwaite said the planter had already been earmarked to plant trees in plantations that produce timber for WA’s housing construction industry. “The planting machine will be doing 50 per cent of its work in the softwood pine estate this winter,” he said.

“The government put AU$350 million into expanding its state pine estate and the planting machine will be a very important tool in getting that project done.”

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Source: ABC Great Southern

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Salvage success lessons shared with industry

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Effective collaboration across the timber industry and learning the lessons from past fire salvage efforts have been highlighted as key factors underpinning the success of the record salvage program in the Tumut and Tumbarumba regions following the Black Summer fires in a report commissioned by Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Forestry Corporation’s Sales and Procurement Manager Peter Stiles said the report summarised the challenges, successes and lessons from the timber salvage program and was being shared with the industry to inform future fire recovery. “The Black Summer fires were devastating for the local community and the region’s softwood timber industry was severely impacted, with about 50 per cent of the pine plantations in the south west slopes burnt,” Mr Stiles said.

“Unlike many native species, pine trees die when they are burnt, but the industry was able to mobilise quickly and in numbers against the backdrop of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic to salvage a remarkable 2.7 million tonnes of timber in the two years following the fire.

“This was the biggest ever salvage effort in this country’s history and there is a lot to be proud of in what the industry achieved. The salvage program kept the lights on for our local processors immediately following the fires and created a boom in harvest and haulage work across the region, but importantly, it also maintained a quality supply of essential structural lumber and packaging products to the broader industry at a time of high demand.

“The lessons from past fires underpinned the success of this salvage program, so while we hope fires like this will never be experienced again, it is important for us to share the lessons from the Black Summer salvage with the industry for the future.” Report author Damien O’Reilly from Mayday Hill Consulting said the review made it clear that collaboration across the timber supply chain was a key to the salvage program’s success.

“Forestry Corporation of NSW is a plantation manager that engages contractors to harvest timber and supply it to third party processors and close collaboration across the supply chain and with local and interstate forest growers was an essential ingredient in the salvage program’s success,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“The timber industry as a whole, shares the objective of maintaining a sustainable supply of timber not just for today but also for the future, so the industry worked to balance immediate and long-term timber needs in the decisions that were made following the fires.

“The salvage program benefited from experiences in assessing damage and managing the processing of burnt timber that were learnt following past fires in NSW such as the Billo Road fire in 2006 and Jananee fire in 2014, as well as invaluable advice and support from the industry across Victoria and South Australia, and through Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

This salvage program demonstrated the effectiveness of remote sensing technology and estate modelling in prioritising salvage operations, and informing processors, contractors and the community about the medium and long-term impacts on the resource.” There was also significant investigation into log storage options under water or sprinklers, including a trial that provided useful lessons should long-term storage of burnt timber be required following fires in future.

Overwhelmingly, the report found collaboration with customers and contractors was a fundamental reason underpinning the success of the program. Flexibility from customers, coordination of contractor capacity and engaging with other growers enabled the industry to both maximise the salvage of burnt timber and minimise the harvesting of unburnt timber to allow it to grow on to deliver timber in future years.

The report is specifically focused on the salvage of softwood timber from the Tumut and Tumbarumba regions and has been published on the Forestry Corporation website to assist the timber industry. Several inquiries and inquests have looked into the 2019-20 fires and Forestry Corporation continues to work with the NSW Rural Fire Service and other government agencies to implement improvements recommended by those inquiries.

Source: FCNSW

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First Silvicultural Micro Innovation Challenge

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Three NZ$15,000 awards to turn your idea(s) into reality. Let’s level up our Silviculture game!

Silviculture activities – planting, pruning, and thinning – are critical to successful forests, influencing not only the health and form of our trees, but the overall potential yield. We want to support the great work you are doing by helping you turn your ideas that make Silviculture tasks easier, faster, cheaper, safer, and better, into reality.

The Silviculture Micro Innovation Challenge is a chance to win one of three NZ $15,000 awards to help you build a working prototype of your concept. The Challenge finishes on Friday 8 March 2024 at 5pm.

Your idea will be a technical or engineering solution to difficulties Silviculture workers face performing day-to-day planting, pruning, and/or thinning work. It doesn’t need to be fully formed, but an indication of build costs and timeframe is beneficial. If you have built your prototype already – it still counts! There’s no limit to how many ideas you can submit.

Click the button on this page to register your innovation. There are no long proposals to write, just tell us what problem you are trying to fix, your idea in a few words, and upload some pictures, drawings, and/or supporting information.

Visit www.microinnovation.co.nz to register your idea and be in to win NZ$15,000 to build and test your prototype.

Source: microinnovation

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New film highlights importance of reducing fuel loads

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

This story will resonate with foresters both in Australia and New Zealand who have been working hard with authorities and land managers to reduce fuel loads in forests to reduce fire risks.

A new film “California’s Watershed Healing” documents the huge benefits that result from restoring forests to healthier densities. UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute partnered with the nonprofit Chronicles Group to tell the story of these efforts, the science behind them, and pathways that dedicated individuals and groups are pioneering to scale up these urgent climate solutions.

“California’s forests are at a tipping point, owing to both climate stress and past unsustainable management practices that suppressed wildfires and prioritized timber harvesting,” explained UC Merced Professor Roger Bales, who was involved in developing the film.

Covering over 30 million acres – nearly a third of the state – these iconic ecosystems provide water, recreation, habitat, carbon storage and serve other needs. But they now contain too many trees, packed too closely together. “California’s diverse ecosystems are facing unprecedented challenges as rising temperatures intensify the threat of wildfires and disrupt the delicate balance of our natural resources,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

The over-accumulation of dead wood, leaves and other organic materials on the forest floor and buildup of small trees – which serve as “ladder fuels” moving fire from the forest floor up into the canopy – has been compounded in recent years by climate warming. Returning more low-severity fire to the landscape is one effective tool for combating heavy fuel loads.

“Restoring fire to these forests, which evolved to experience frequent fire, is critical, despite the risks associated with prescribed, intentional burning,” said UC Merced Professor Crystal Kolden. “Partnerships help to give a voice to everyone involved, including historically excluded groups such as the tribes that have burned in these forests for millennia.”

“The new production vividly documents the reality of the watersheds’ demise and the hard work of new partnerships involving land managers, water agencies, the private sector, counties, universities, community groups and other public agencies to advance the pace and scale of forest restoration,” said Jim Thebaut of the Chronicles Group, director and executive producer of the documentary.

“Restoration efforts focus on removing fuels, which lowers the projected severity when a fire does occur,” Bales said. “Yet these thinning projects are very expensive. That is where partnerships that can develop creative financing and monetize the benefits of restoration come in.”

“We need to use all of the collaborative forest-management, scientific and financial tools at our disposal if we are to address the wildfire challenge at a meaningful scale,” said Phil Saksa, chief scientist at Blue Forest, a nonprofit organization focused on creating sustainable investment solutions to environmental challenges. “Leveraging the value provided by all the beneficial outcomes from this work is essential for motivating long-term investments in the natural infrastructure that is our forests and watersheds.”

The film explores how scaling up promising investments can ensure a more sustainable future. “California’s Watershed: Healing” was shown Sunday, Feb. 18 at the 22nd annual in Nevada City and Grass Valley, followed by a panel discussion with scientists, decision makers and filmmakers. The film trailer can be viewed here.

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Source: UC Merced

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€150 m LVL and I-beam plant underway

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Construction, the first sustainable construction factory of its kind in the Baltics and only the third in Europe, has begun operations with plans to produce €150 million of products a year for Scandinavia, North America, Australia, and major European markets.

The €100 million facility for structural engineering timber materials is located in the Akmenė Free Economic Zone. VMG Group, one of the largest wood processing and furniture manufacturing groups in Central and Eastern Europe, opened the site together with Hanner, the leader in real estate development in Lithuania, and the Baltic Industrial Fund II, which is managed by BRAITIN.

The VMG Lignum Construction factory has the annual capacity to produce 120,000 cubic meters of laminated veneer lumber (LVL), 15 million meters of I-joists and 200,000 cubic meters of structural particle board.

Sigitas Paulauskas, VMG Group’s sole shareholder and investor says the factory will supply local and global markets with engineered timber products and building solutions. In a later phase of development, the range of products on offer will be enlarged to include other sustainable building structures, such as prefabricated wall and ceiling panels, glued LVL columns, and wall chipboard with decorative sheeting.

According to Global Wood Markets Info (GWMI), the European market for mass timber-based multi-storey buildings is growing at a pace of roughly 8% a year.

About VMG Group

VMG Group unites 20 companies with more than 3,000 employees and exports to more than 30 countries. The group is currently developing large-scale projects within one of Lithuania’s free economic zones involving €500 million of total investments.

The €100 million construction materials factory is the VMG Group’s third industrial project in the Akmene FEZ. In 2020, it opened one of the largest chipboard factories in Europe, investing €150 million in the site. In August 2023, it launched a new cabinet furniture factory. Investments in that project exceeded €80 million.

Source: VMG Group

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Steam rises again from Pan Pac

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Almost a year since Cyclone Gabrielle flooded Pan Pac’s mill site at Whirinaki, steam has begun rising from one of the stacks.

For nearly 50 years, Hawke’s Bay residents have been able to locate Pan Pac’s mill site by the billowing steam issuing from its boilers, pulpmill and kilns at Whirinaki. The boiler steam comes from bark and sawdust byproducts of the Pulp and Lumber operations and woody offcuts that have been salvaged from forest operations and converted into biofuel. This energy provides all of the energy required for the pulp and lumber drying and around 12% of the mill’s electricity needs.

However, almost a year ago, Cyclone Gabrielle flooded the site and put the whole site out of action. Pan Pac suffered NZ$300 million in damage to its business and forests from the cyclone, and the company and its staff have been working tirelessly to repair and rebuild ever since. Seeing the steam rising again from the Boiler 1 stack is a welcome sign that full operation is on the horizon, says Tony Clifford, Managing Director, Pan Pac Forest Products.

“Our Lumber operations began partial operations last week and our Pulp mill will be operational in March,“ says Tony. “We can’t wait to get back to business; it’s been a long road back to recovery, but we are grateful to all our staff, contractors, customers, suppliers and our shareholder for sticking with us throughout this process.”

Source: Hawke’s Bay App

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Carbotech acquires Sawquip

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Carbotech Group has announced the acquisition of Sawquip, a manufacturing company specializing in sawmill equipment. This acquisition allows Carbotech Group to expand its product range and offer innovative solutions for lumber production. Sawquip’s products, including log turners, chipping canters, and circular saw modules, will now be part of the Carbotech brand.

With 35 years of experience, Sawquip brings high-quality expertise in curve sawing equipment. The manufacturing of Sawquip’s equipment will now take place at Carbotech’s facilities in Plessisville, Quebec , ensuring the continuity of this proven expertise. The transition and integration will be led by Pierre Lafond , Carbotech’s Vice President of Operations. Carbotech Group is excited about the synergy created by this acquisition and looks forward to continued growth.

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Scion joins Australian Advance Timber Hub

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Scion has announced its formal membership in The Australian Research Council (ARC) Advance Timber Hub. This five-year, $16.5 million research initiative was recently launched at The University of Queensland, Australia, on January 31st, in the presence of industry leaders, academic partners, and government officials including Senator Hon Anthony Chisholm, Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development.

The primary objective of the ARC Advance Timber Hub is to drive innovation in the Australian mid-rise building market, which represents a significant portion of the country’s construction industry valued at approximately AU$80 billion annually. This initiative has the potential to revolutionize both timber processing and construction sectors. By leveraging international expertise in advanced timber manufacturing, the Hub also presents substantial opportunities for optimizing forestry resources, including those in Aotearoa New Zealand.

At Scion, Henri Bailleres and his team, comprising Tripti Singh, Romain Meot, and Diego Elustondo, are eager to collaborate with the Advance Timber Hub to explore avenues that can benefit both the industry and forests of Aotearoa New Zealand. Our goal is to foster strong partnerships with the Australian timber building sector, fostering synergy between our nations in a shared market.

Administered by The University of Queensland’s School of Civil Engineering, the ARC Advance Timber Hub brings together a diverse range of stakeholders including innovators, developers, technology providers, designers, fire engineers, forestry experts, and government representatives. With participation from 12 Australian universities and five international universities and research institutes, the Hub is poised to drive significant advancements in timber processing and construction technologies.

Scion sees immense value in joining the Hub, as it provides a platform to contribute our innovative expertise and secure opportunities for our resources and timber products. Together, we look forward to shaping the future of timber innovation and sustainable construction practices in Australia and beyond. To learn more please visit www.advance-timber-hub.org

Photo: Assistant Minister Anthony Chisholm, Professor Keith Crews, Professor Rachel Parker and ARC Acting CEO, Dr Richard Johnson

Source & Photo: Scion

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Who needs skidders? – elephant logging in Burma

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

An extract from Ross Lockyer’s book, That’s What Elephants are For appears in the February 2024 issue of NZ Logger. It’s an amazing read – and an amazing story. In mid-1984, Ross Lockyer was offered a consultancy with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as Logging Engineering Consultant for the Project Completion Mission pertaining to the ADB Burma Forestry/Loan Project.

His job was to travel around all the areas that were covere3d under the project and observe, investigate, assess, evaluate and report on the situation as he saw it at the time. With elephants for skidders and buffalos for loaders, he got far more than he bargained for.

Part of his job was to locate and inspect log-harvesting equipment, which had been by the first ADB Burma Forestry Project. This included logging trucks, log loaders, log loaders, log skidders and chainsaws, road construction equipment such as bull-dozers, road rollers, water trucks, fuel bowser tankers and maintenance and repair workshops.

As well as these checks, Ross was also charged with inspecting and reporting on the log storage and rafting operations, logging and loading operations, sawmills and the traditional Burmese log extraction equipment comprising of elephants, water buffaloes and oxen. Throughout Burma at the time, teak logs were being extracted from the forests on the steep and hilly terrain and by buffaloes on the easier and flatter terrain. Oxen were used mainly on the riverbanks for short hauls on gentle, favourable downhill sloping terrain, or to haul two-wheeled ox carts for transporting logs along tracks and roads.

For the first time in New Zealand, at Wood Transport & Logistics 2024, Ross Lockyer, now 80 years of age, a retired forest ranger, adventurer and story teller will be telling his story of his experiences on Elephant Logging in Burma.

Retired and living near Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, friends had been telling him for over 30 years that he should write a book about his life and adventures in the forestry and logging industries in the forests of Asia and the Pacific. So, in 2013, he put pen to paper and started writing – “the book”.

Ten years later that one book has expanded into five books. All five books have now been published and have sold over a thousand copies to date. The titles include “An Accidental Bushman” (about the making of a Forest Ranger in early 1960s NZ); “Cannibals, Crocodiles and Cassowaries” (a NZ Forest Ranger in pre-independence Papua New Guinea); “The River is my Highway” (stories from the forestry and logging industry in the jungles of Indonesian Borneo).

Meanwhile, Back in the Jungle…” ( a kiwi bushman in the jungles of Indonesian West Irian and North Sumatra); and finally, released in November 2023, “But That’s What Elephants Are For!”; (a forestry consultant working with the logging elephants in the teak forests of North and Central Burma, followed by more stories of adventures in the forestry and logging industries of Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, China, Thailand, Japan, Kiribati and South Africa.

With a gung-ho approach to life (and often his own safety), Ross threw himself into his work and immersed himself in the local cultures and communities wherever he went, learning the languages and customs that helped him fit in and do his job. He had many fascinating and hair-raising adventures and close scrapes, and he encountered many amazing people wherever he went. Indeed, a wonderful and fulfilling forestry career for a country kid from Okato, Taranaki, who at 17 years of age, on the 7th January 1962, fronted up at the NZFS Forest Ranger Training School at the FTC in Rotorua with 28 other keen young men to begin a lifelong career in forestry.

Many of those now 80-year-olds, still keep in regular contact and have become lifelong mates to this day. Ross considers himself fortunate that he has been able to record his stories for the enjoyment of others.

Registrations to the Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May can be made here.

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In-forest electric or electric hybrid machines

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

On-site and virtual registrations to this year’s Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event are now streaming in. Interest in the pre-conference workshops including the LTSC Driver Certification and the Trimble Forestry using integrated e-docket workflows workshops likewise continue to flow in.

With a focus on large wood transport fleets now rolling out operationally a raft of alternate fuels to decarbonise their trucking fleets, the event this year is also looking at some novel approaches and trucking configurations set up to extract wood off steeper slopes being taken by Offroad Trucking Services and Pacific Haulage.

The Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event will also for the first time be exploring efforts being made to use alternative fuels inside the forest by log harvesting operations. Mike Hurring Logging has been operating NZ’s first Logset 8H GTE diesel-electric hybrid wheeled harvester in production thinning operations in Otago/Southland forests.

And from Finland, Ponsse has teamed up with Epec, a manufacturing company that specialises in electric / hybrid electric vehicle and autonomous systems, to develop another first, an electric machine concept for forwarders with 15-tonne load-carrying capacity. Epec’s technology is already been used in electric or hybrid-electric commercial vehicles and non-road mobile machines.

As part of this year’s Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event, both Mike Hurring and Ponsse will be providing early insights for local forestry companies and contractors on future options for taking electric or electric hybrid machines out into the forest.

Full programme details and information on the 22-23 May event being run in Rotorua, New Zealand (and on-line for those outside of NZ and Australia) can be found on the event website

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Melbourne’s tallest timber office building finished

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The tallest mass timber office building in Melbourne has been completed at 15 storeys, designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.

The 18,200-square-metre office building, named T3 Collingwood, has been designed with sustainability in mind. Constructed using Victorian oak responsibly sourced from Australian forests, the structure represents a 34 per cent reduction in embodied carbon. Glazed windows have been integrated to maximize daylight and energy efficiency.

Located at 36 Wellington Street, Collingwood, the building features office spaces, retail offerings, lobby, a wellness centre, a basement car park and 186 bicycle parking spots, as well as outdoor terraces on floors five and 12.

According to the T3 Collingwood website, the vision for the building was to provide a working environment that fosters a “greater sense of wellbeing, fufilment and work satisfaction” through the incorporation of mental respite areas such as the outdoor terraces.

Project developer Hines’s country head of Australia and New Zealand, David Warneford, said that there is growing demand for green buildings with environmentally and socially beneficial design features.

As a result, the developer has engaged Architectus and Wilkinson Eyre to design another green office tower at 600 Collins Street in Melbourne. The AU$1 billion Collins Street project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2026.

Source: architectureau

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Record turnout of Kenworths at 100th global anniversary

In Forest Safety, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Kenworth enthusiasts in New Zealand gathered at Waikato’s Mystery Creek to celebrate the brand’s 100th global anniversary with a record-breaking 756 mighty rigs on display. The event, organised by local distributor Southpac Trucks, took place over Waitangi weekend and saw hundreds of spectators arrive through the gates.

The Kenworth-only event eclipsed any single brand truck show ever staged in the Southern Hemisphere – including the 2014 event in Mt Maunganui which saw 300 Kenworths on show to mark 50 years of the truck brand being imported into New Zealand. With a huge nine-hectare footprint set aside for the show, there was plenty of room for the big rigs to shine.

Registrations opened in July last year and a large number of local Kenworth owners and operators took part to make it a special day to remember. The scale of the venue ensured a big turnout and saw half a kilometre of Kenworth grills in one row alone.

Planning for the centenary show began in early 2020 but was put on hold due to the disruption of Covid-19. It was originally meant to take place in 2023 to coincide with the official global anniversary. Southpac Trucks general sales manager Richard Smart says Kenworth owners are known to be passionate about the trucks they run. He says the event was about bringing them together in one place to celebrate the best of the brand.

“For me it’s all about the customers. This is an event we put on for the owners, the operators and the drivers and it was all about getting them together. You can see them standing around yacking to people they haven’t seen for ages,” he says.

Source: transporttalk

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Zero emission trucks need a boost

In Wood Transport by kenwilson

The NZ Government’s announcement that the Road User Charges (RUC) exemption for light electric vehicles and plug in hybrids will end in April is good news for the state of the roads. But it also highlights the challenges to zero emission truck uptake, says road freight peak body Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.

Policy advisor Billy Clemens says the coalition Government had made the right call in ending the temporary RUC exemption for light EVs. “The temporary RUC reduction was a helpful sweetener while light EV technology was in its early stages, and many consumers and businesses may have needed an additional incentive.

“With light EV uptake now building serious global momentum, subsidies simply aren’t necessary. The exemption was always intended to be temporary, up until light EVs reached 2 percent of the light vehicle fleet. With that goal met, it’s appropriate that users start contributing to the upkeep of the roads they’re using, just as our truck operator members do. With our roading network in such a poor state of repair, we need that revenue to be used for maintenance and improvements.”

While light EV uptake is progressing well, Clemens says the Government needs to act swiftly to enable greater uptake of zero emission heavy vehicles that are currently exempt from paying RUC until December 2025.

“In the long term, we want to see zero emission trucks stand on their own two feet against internal combustion alternatives. However, the current cost premium and limited capability of battery electric and hydrogen vehicles mean they aren’t yet generally commercially viable. Transporting New Zealand is committed to the decarbonisation of road freight transport, but our members can’t do it alone.”

He says “In addition to the heavy EV RUC exemption, there are plenty of ways the Government can support positive change. These include introducing accelerated interest depreciation on low and zero emission vehicles; increasing axle weight limits for electric trucks with heavy batteries; permitting Class 1 licensed drivers to operate small electric trucks; amending the national EV charging strategy to focus more on heavy vehicles; and maintaining co-funding through EECA.

“These practical changes would support road transport companies to transition towards lower and zero carbon trucks, and help New Zealand meet our ambitious decarbonisation targets,” Clemens says. “We can make 2024 a big year for low and zero emissions trucks in New Zealand.”

About Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand is the peak national membership association representing the road freight transport industry. Our members operate urban, rural and inter- regional commercial freight transport services throughout the country.

Road is the dominant freight mode in New Zealand, transporting 92.8% of the freight task on a tonnage basis, and 75.1% on a tonne-km basis. The road freight transport industry employs over 34,000 people across more than 4,700 businesses, with an annual turnover of NZ$6 billion.

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Which will be the engine of the future?

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Truck manufacturers are under immense pressure to cut emissions. But should they bet on fully electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or even both? Multinationals are reaching different conclusions. And the wrong choice could be expensive.

Check out the video below.

And for local forestry and log transport operators, electric, hydrogen and dual fuel options have been going through their own trials and testing on NZ and Australian roads. Equipment suppliers and heavy transport fleets (as well as very early testing on some wood harvesting machines) will be detailing results, lessons and performance figures as part of the eagerly awaited back-up to last year’s major Wood Transport & Logistics event.

When? It runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Full details on the event and the programme can be found on the event website

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Harvesting in a high-density kiwi habitat

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Justin Anderson and his logging crew, JPA Logging, have recently completed one of the more interesting jobs of their careers so far. Contracting to John Turkington, JPA Logging has just finished harvesting a 50-hectare block of Pinus radiata on Haupouri Station, part of the Cape Sanctuary, which is the home to a large population of Eastern brown kiwi.

Most people would think that a logging crew harvesting in an area populated with kiwi is a disaster in the making, with the kiwi likely to suffer during the harvest process. But JPA Logging have dispelled that misconception by going above and beyond in their efforts to mitigate any harm to kiwi.

Logging crews live and die on being productive. They have to produce a set tonnage of logs every day to stay afloat. This is referred to as their target. To be able to ‘hit target’ everyday involves utilising every minute of the day to cut down trees, extract the trees, process them into logs, and load those logs onto trucks. It doesn’t matter how steep the terrain is, how atrocious the weather is, how short staffed they might be, or even if machinery breaks down, they still need to ‘hit target’. Throw an endangered species into the mix as well and ‘hitting target’ could become very complicated – unless you’re Justin Anderson and JPA Logging.

At the beginning of the Haupouri Station job, Save the Kiwi Eastern regional manager Tamsin Ward-Smith monitored and assessed where kiwi were in relation to the logging operations. This involved placing transmitters on as many kiwi as possible before harvesting commenced so that telemetry equipment could be used to ensure there were no kiwi in harm’s way when harvesting operations began. This was carried out on a daily pre-start basis.

To save Tamsin the 90-minute round trip at 5am every morning, Justin Anderson learnt to use the telemetry equipment so he could ‘beep’ the birds before his crew started work and if any birds were present Tamsin was called in to do any kiwi handling required. Only qualified kiwi handlers are allowed to handle kiwi.

In 2005 the Hansen family and staff, together with the Lowe and Robertson families, the other two landowners of Cape Sanctuary, spent eight months building a predator-proof perimeter fence which runs from Ocean Beach to Clifton and forms the 2,500-hectare area of land Cape Sanctuary operates. This saw just over 800 hectares of Haupouri land being fenced off as part of a predator-free, mixed land use format.

Jono Berry’s family farm Haupouri station and was very happy with the way the JPA crew harvested the high-density kiwi habitat. “Haupouri Station has been in the family since 1860, and we are proudly the 8th generation to farm the land,” Jono says. “Our land makes up 10% of the Sanctuary but we’re proud of the small contribution we continue to make with this rugged area of the farm. Our gullies are full of native regenerating shrub which appears to be a thriving habitat for the kiwi.

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Source: John Turkington, savethekiwi

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NZ forestry industry establishing pan sector body

In Environmental Forestry, ForestTECH, HarvestTECH, Wood Residues, Wood Transport, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Ten organisations have signed an accord establishing as a pan sector body. Called the NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF), NZ sector associations will engage on issues of common interest or concern to the national industry and act as a spokesperson and point of contact for the industry with Government and other relevant bodies where appropriate.

The NZFWSF will improve communication throughout the forestry supply chain to pursue and ensure continued growth and to manage issues with the interest of the whole sector in mind.

Forestry Industry Contractors Association CEO and NZFWSF spokesperson Prue Younger says the NZFWSF’s collective advocacy will be for policies that are socially responsible, environmentally, and ecologically sustainable, internationally competitive, and profitable.

“The greater and long-term goal for the pan sector initiative is the desire to improve the coordination and collaboration of the sector and make it communicate, promote, and improve the total value chain,” she says. “The benefit of a common and collective ‘whole of industry’ voice, with direction and future opportunities stands to be shared with the industry and Government providing credibility that the ‘whole of industry’ is backing the content.”

The pan sector group was an outcome of a ‘Forestry Supply Chain – Pan Sector Meeting’ held on July 26 in Rotorua. The hui provided a shared understanding of the problems and opportunities the sector faced in a 15-year crisis for the forestry industry. “Collective discussions were had around what change would look like to generate a sustainable operating model that we don’t currently have,” says Prue.

Source: NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF)

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Investment in Chilean wood alternative start-up

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Chilean pulp producer Empresas CMPC SA is betting on a local startup that is working to create a wood alternative for concrete and steel in the construction industry.

CMPC Ventures, CMPC’s venture capital division, led a $5.2 million investment in Strong by Form, a Chilean startup that develops wood panels that it claims can be used in construction and even in the automotive industry, according to a press release.

Strong by Form said its wood panels achieve the strength of concrete with one tenth of the weight, and also use less trees than cross laminated timber products, according to the statement.

Strong By Form didn’t report a valuation of the company. Other investors included CiRi Ventures, France’s MAIF Avenir Ventures and Teampact Ventures, among others. The company will use the funds to continue developing its products and build a production facility. Strong by Form said, without providing further details, that its also working on partnerships with Deutsche Bahn and the BMW Group.

Source: Bloomberg, Strong by Form

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Robot rollout begins in NZ

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

DHL Supply Chain has deployed a warehouse automation solution at its distribution centre in Highbrook, Auckland, NZ. Using technology from US-based company Locus Robotics, the project will be used to streamline the product supply chain for DHL’s major customer Schneider Electric.

DHL is the first in the country to rollout the Locus Robotics solution, which will see 10 new autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to collaborate with its warehouse team using the LocusOne warehouse automation platform. The deployment is a part of DHL’s ongoing partnership with Locus Robotics which will see 5000 Locus Origin AMRs rolled out globally.

LocusOne is a data-driven system that directs AMRs to pick and drop locations around the warehouse. DHL team members assist them by picking, loading and unloading items for despatch. The collaboration between team members and AMRs for warehouse throughput results in the automation of many time-consuming and laborious tasks traditionally performed by humans, such as walking long distances to pick locations and manoeuvring pick carts.

It results in faster product picking and team members can be redeployed to other tasks requiring a human touch. The Locus Origin AMRs feature a tablet screen and scanner to interface with team members, and eight cameras and sensors to safely navigate warehouses and around people.

The AMRs operate for up to 14 hours per charge and calculate the shortest possible routes to pick locations around the warehouse, to maximise performance throughout the shift. DHL New Zealand managing director Matt Casbolt says he’s pleased to be leveraging the global knowledge within his company to deliver a more effective solution for customers in New Zealand.

“We’ve been following the deployment of LocusOne at our company’s sites in the United States, Europe and in Australia with keen interest and we’re pleased to be introducing this technology for our customers in New Zealand.

Source: transporttalk

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Changes to Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

On 14 June, NZ Government Ministers announced changes to the National Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).

In summary:

• Changes have been made to how commercial forestry is managed to give councils more power to decide where new forests are located;

• Exotic continuous-cover forests (carbon forests) are now managed in the same way as plantation forests;

• The changes improve the management of the effects of large-scale forestry on the environment and communities. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of new and existing exotic forests; and

• The changes also ensure the regulations deliver the right type and scale of forests, in the right place. This is an action in the first Aotearoa Emissions Reduction Plan.

More details can be found on the Ministry for Environment’s website and in the fact sheet below:

National environmental standards for commercial forestry

Factsheet

The changes come into force from 2 November and were gazetted yesterday (Thursday 5 October). The Ministry for the Environment and councils will work together to implement the changes while Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service – is developing risk assessment and management tools for landowners and councils.

The submissions received during consultation in November 2022 are now on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ website along with a summary.

The Cabinet minute, Cabinet paper, and attachments on the final policy decision in June have been proactively released. Read here.

We will also be proactively releasing the final section 32 evaluation report, the supplementary analysis report to support the interim regulatory impact statement, and the papers that went to the Cabinet Legislation Committee on 18 September. We will let you know when this happens.

If you have any questions, please email nespf.consultation@mfe.govt.nz.

Here is a link to the 14 June Ministerial announcement: Local communities to have a say on farm to forest conversions

Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

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PF Olsen NZ log market report – Jan 2023

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Market Summary

There were mixed signals from the China log market at the end of 2023, but January At Wharf Gate (AWG) prices for export logs in New Zealand increased slightly from December AWG prices. 

Domestic log prices were stable with some small price increases for structural logs.

The PF Olsen Log Price Index increased $2 to $125. The index is currently $5 above the two-year average, $3 above the three-year average, and $4 above the five-year average.

Domestic Log Market

Many sawmills in New Zealand took longer end-of-year breaks than usual. Sales of decking material this summer are higher than last summer, but still below the longer-term average sale figures. Domestic sales of structural and outdoor products have picked up from last year but sawmillers are still wary of sale figures in the winter months ahead. Many sawmillers expect sales similar to last year as interest rates remain high. 

Sales of sawn timber into Australia are okay, but sales of clear sawn timber into Europe remain low, and it is unlikely demand will increase during the European winter. 

Domestic log prices are stable with some small increases in structural logs in the Central North Island and Southland regions.

China

China softwood log inventory is stable but daily port off-take has started to reduce in preparation for the Chinese Lunar New Year. Daily offtake is now around 55k m3 per day. Many sawmills across China are taking a longer break than normal this year. The sale price for A-grade pine logs in China remained stable in January within the 127-130 USD range. Some log exporters have asked for price increases for February sales. 

By the end of December China wholesale log prices had reduced by approximately 60 RMB per m3 (6%) from the peak (when sawmillers had a minor panic that log supply would not keep up with demand). However, wholesale prices have risen 25% since mid-June and finished the year slightly above 2022 price levels.

The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI increased from 50.7 in November to 50.8 in December. (Any number above 50 signals manufacturing growth). Output grew the most in seven months and new orders rose at the fastest pace since February. 

A Hong Kong-based court has ordered the liquidation of property developer China Evergrande Group which initially defaulted on its debts in 2021. The court appointed Alvarez & Marsal as the liquidator. This default contributed to the property sector entering into a downward spiral at that time. The market expects this liquidation will have little immediate effect on construction and log demand. It will likely be a drawn-out process for an offshore liquidator to take control of Evergrande’s operations across mainland China.

More >>

Scott Downs, Director Sales & Marketing, PF Olsen Ltd
Source: PF Olsen

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Cut surfaces as fingerprints – marker-free tracing of logs

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Until now, reliably tracing logs to their origin has been difficult to achieve. Researchers at Fraunhofer IPM and their partners have now shown that logs and trunk sections can be identified based on the structure of the cut surfaces. The recent research project developed a marker-free and tamper-proof method. The optical method allows up to 100 percent recognition – even under the rough environment conditions of the timber industry.

Timber is a valuable natural resource, and its role – particularly in the construction industry – is increasing. One objective of the EU timber regulation is to curb illegal timber trade. This is why the regulation requires wood-processing companies to ensure that timber can be traced to its origin along the entire supply chain. The numbering tags, RFID codes and simple colour markings commonly used for identifying timber cannot ensure a reliable proof of origin because they are not tamper-proof. So far, alternative methods of marking logs and trunk sections have failed due to high costs and a lack of digitalization.

Tamper-proof identification: Cut surfaces as fingerprints

Fraunhofer IPM has been collaborating closely with the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) to develop a camera-based tracing method. The research project for the identification of logs and trunk sections has recently been concluded. The Track & Trace Fingerprint method uses the unique structures on cut surfaces like a fingerprint, meaning that no timber marking is required.

High-resolution camera images of the cut surfaces are translated into a simple bit sequence, the fingerprint code. This code is matched with a unique ID and stored in a Cloud database. Tracking can thus be achieved by comparing new images of the same area with the corresponding bit sequence. This allows the tamper-proof identification of individual logs and trunk sections, even if the timber is mixed up during harvest and processing.

Three different camera systems have been developed for wood processing applications, each to suit specific lighting conditions: a system that is integrated in a forest harvester, a system for use in a sawmill and a hand-held system. There are two reasons why the creation of fingerprint codes generates a vast amount of data: first, the specific structure of the cut surface with knots, growth rings and rough surfaces, and second, the forest environment, which makes the reproduction of log positions impossible. This is why the images are pre-selected in a two-step process using a convolutional neural network (CNN).

High recognition rate

In a field study, the researchers could show that the fingerprint method is reliable, even in the rough environmental conditions in the forest and the sawmill. A total of 65 cut surfaces were recorded on the forest harvester, at the timber collection point and at the sawmill. The registered sections were then identified at the collection point and at the sawmill by new images being taken at each location respectively.

The recognition rate between the forest harvester and the timber collection point was 98.5 percent, in other words the system failed to recognize only a single log. Between the forest harvester and the sawmill, and between the timber collection point and the sawmill, the recognition rate was 100 percent. In the future, the researchers will be working on making the method suitable for other types of wood and for applications along the entire timber processing chain.

Source: www.ipm.fraunhofer.de

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Promising test run of new robotic planting machine

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Södra’s venture in a new advanced technique for better seedling survival was recently field tested with promising results. Södra’s ambition with the in-house developed BraSatt 01 planting machine is to accelerate technical advances in forest regeneration, which could potentially lead to considerable improvements for forestry.

Södra’s mission is to help refine and renew the value of family forestry. Improved seedling survival will create conditions for higher profitability for family forestry, while also contributing to more sustainable forestry.

“There haven’t been any major technical breakthroughs in forest regeneration since the planting tube. With Södra’s venture, we are giving the forest regeneration method a real boost and using a technique that is unusual in forestry. I hope this will have a ripple effect, so that forest owners can continue to benefit from more new techniques as we move forward,” said Anna Wallner, project manager.

Södra has been running a project called BraSatt since 2020, which is based on the development of a new method for scarification and planting seedlings to ensure the survival of the seedlings. Seedling survival is a problem for all forest companies today. Södra’s current rate of seedling survival is 70–75 percent, which means that only three of four seedlings survive longer than three years.

“In the project, we have created a concept and field-tested a new scarification method and a self-propelled planting machine. BraSatt has covered the whole chain – from planning to planting the seedling in the soil,” said Anna Wallner.

The autonomous planting was developed from the BraSatt 01 prototype. The aim is that the proposed machine will follow an overall route, find an accessible path through the terrain, select good planting spots, feed the seedlings through the system, scarify the soil and then plant successfully. Södra has collaborated with companies with experience from various industries to find new solutions. The participating companies are Axelent Engineering, Bit Addict, Boid, Chalmers, CIT, DB MakerLab, Ebeaver, LUE Engineering and the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden.

“In the project, we used a proven technique as far as possible and adapted it step by step in order to get closer to tomorrow’s planting machine. We’ve used a lot of techniques that are unusual for forestry, such as industrial robots, which are more likely to be found indoors on a concrete floor. In the BraSatt 01 machine, the seedlings are handled automatically by a robot. We are therefore making a new technique available to forestry, and to forest regeneration specifically,” said Anna Wallner.

The project also developed a new method of scarification that is optimal for the seedling and energy-efficient, while also leaving a relatively even clearing behind. This method affects a considerably smaller part of the surface compared with the current method. Another important part of the development process was to account for the human-machine interaction and factor in the operator’s role in creating a positive work environment. The operator’s new role will be to work together with the machine, to provide support when it asks for help, plan the work on the clearing and to work with plant care. Now that field testing has ended, documentation and analysis will follow to find a possible way forward.

“Even though the test results are promising, the machine is not ready for use. What we want to show with this development is that this is possible to achieve. In the next step, we need to decide what parts of the development that we need to prioritise and run ourselves here at Södra, where we can find partners and where there are technical advances happening that we don’t need to push,” said Anna Wallner.

Source: Södra

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Tree detection advances towards precision forestry

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Advances in sensors and aerial platforms continue to offer Forest growers an increasing array of precision datasets. Extracting further value to streamline management is desirable, though often limited due to software costs, computing constraints and iterations required to extract meaningful results.

Working alongside SKYCAN, Indufor’s resource monitoring team has overcome these challenges. The pilot commercial solution was deployed in 2021, where Indufor’s tree detection and analytical layers provide forest growers with precise information that confirms plantation establishment, provides auditable measures of stocking, and importantly improves efficiency of field inspections – with many tasks such as early age tree counts done from the desktop.

Building on this, Abdullah Madawi and Dr Pete Watt presented work at the Remote Sensing Cluster Group (November 2023) run in conjunction with ForestTECH 2023 to develop a novel online tree detection approach that uses UAV data.

Abdullah comments “UAVs have quickly become the forester’s choice for rapid area reconnaissance, utilising these images collected opens the door to extract further information”. In collaboration with Forest Growers Research and Scion, the team will look to build and deploy the fully operational system by mid-2024.

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Smart technologies advance the monitoring of RNC

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Using innovative satellite detection methods, Indufor’s Dwell monitoring system is now capable of detecting Red Needle Cast (RNC) outbreaks.

The science, developed in a collaborative effort between Indufor and Scion, studies sporadic outbreaks of RNC, caused by a fungal-like organism, Phytophthora pluvialis) over multiple years. In 2023, fuelled by a long-wet summer, the disease proliferated.

Using the capabilities of image time-series processing (at scale), algorithms were built under Dwell, to generate RNC alerts. This provided insights into the location and distribution of the disease across large areas. The results were then pushed to Dwell’s web application ( dashboard) platform, providing an intuitive way for forest growers to share observations and track the spread and severity of outbreaks.

“Dwell provides an important link to understanding the drivers of outbreaks, giving forest owners the ability to react quicker to outbreaks to limit RNC’s impact” says Andrew Holdaway from Indufor’s resource monitoring team.

Looking toward 2024 work has already begun to investigate the interaction between environmental indicators, surfaces and RNC expression with the goal of adding early warning capability to Dwell.

Click here to learn more about the development of Dwell’s RNC alerts, as presented by Andrew Holdaway at the Remote Sensing Cluster Group in November 2023 held in conjunction with ForestTECH 2023.

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Wood biomass boiler swings into action

In Forest Safety, Wood Residues by kenwilson

Fonterra’s NZ Waitoa manufacturing site is now using around 50% less coal as its new wood biomass boiler swings into action. Waitoa is the third Fonterra manufacturing site to reduce coal in 2023, as part of the Co-op’s plan to reduce its Scope 1&2 emissions by 50% by 2030 (from a 2018 baseline).

The new wood biomass boiler will reduce the site’s annual emissions by at least 48,000 tonnes of CO2e, the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off New Zealand’s roads and is another significant step in the Co-op’s transition to a low carbon future.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer (Acting) Anna Palairet says “Fonterra has invested around NZ$90million in this new boiler, which will make a 3% reduction in our emissions. It is just one of the many decarbonisation projects underway across the Co-op.

“Earlier last year we moved off coal to wood biomass at our Stirling site and announced projects at Hautapu where we are converting the coal boilers to use wood pellets, and at the FBNZ Palmerston North site where we have installed a heat pump and solar thermal system. These projects follow earlier wood biomass projects at our Te Awamutu and Brightwater sites.”

“When you add together the emissions reductions from all projects complete or underway across our manufacturing operations, they reduce our CO2e emissions by a forecast 16% from our FY18 baseline – 279,000 tonnes per annum – the equivalent of 116,200 cars off NZ roads.”

The installation of the new boiler at Waitoa will also give a boost to the local wood biomass industry, with Wood Energy NZ supplying wood chip to power the biomass boiler. Waitoa is also the home to the Co-op’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, which to date has collected over 5.5 million litres of milk and completed 1004 farm collections. Fonterra is trialling the electric milk tanker as part of its plan to reduce transport emissions.

Further details on the Co-op’s work to reduce emissions associated with manufacturing:

– Fonterra expects to further reduce its emissions through a combination of energy efficiency initiatives and switching fuels at our six manufacturing sites that will still be using coal in 2024, and ultimately stop using coal by 2037.

– Fonterra is in the process of converting the coal boilers at the Hautapu site to wood pellets. Once complete in early 2024, the Hautapu site will reduce its carbon emissions by a forecast 15,785 tonnes per annum.

– The Stirling wood biomass boiler has been commissioned, moving the site to fully renewable thermal energy for its process heat.

– In 2020, the Te Awamutu manufacturing site converted its coal boiler to wood pellets, reducing the Co-op’s national coal consumption by 9 per cent, saving more than 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

– The Brightwater site near Nelson switched to co-firing biomass, helping reduce CO2e emissions by 25 percent.

– The Co-operative is developing plans to transition its manufacturing sites that use natural gas to other more sustainable energy sources such as biomass, biogas, and electricity from renewable sources.

• For more information click here

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Timber Unlimited and CLT Toolbox team up

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Timber Unlimited has recently formed a collaboration with CLT Toolbox in Australia to develop new software modules that will make it easier to carry out structural designs in accordance with the new Standard NZS AS 1720.1:2022 and international best practice for mass timber, engineered wood products and connections. This announcement comes hot on the heels of CLT Toolbox announcing in October 2023 that the first tranche of their software offering relevant to designers within the Australian market was launched.

One of the long-standing obstacles to making it easier to choose and use more timber in the built environment has been the steep learning curve required to understand the required design methods and material-specific properties of timber to carry out robust member and connection design confidently and on time. The new, New Zealand-specific part of the software is presently under development through this collaboration will provide a new suite of design tools and local supplier grades and sizes, facilitating efficient design to the latest Standards.

A very important additional feature will be the inclusion of the CLT Toolbox core principle of “embedded learning” – the calculators are not presented in the all too familiar “black-box” format, meaning that you get outputs without knowing what formulas or Standards were used; rather, the calculators and routines identify the expressions, factors and Standards being applied so it’s easy to identify the basis and relevance of the calculated outputs.

Timber Unlimited has also teamed up with the NZ Timber Design Society (TDS) and the Structural Engineering Society NZ (SESOC), who will assist with the review and validation parts of the programme. It’s the power of this 4-way collaboration that will help unlock the benefits of timber to the New Zealand design and specification community and make it easier to use more timber in the built environment.

The target is to have NZ-relevant part of the software available to NZ designers by the end of April 2024.

More >>

Photo: CLT Toolbox Founders Adam Jones and Ringo Thomas

Source: Timber Unlimited

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Case Study – Using spatial data for tree health

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

As one of the world’s top ten forested countries, Australia relies on growers to manage productive, healthy forests sustainably for generations to come. HQPlantations is part of Australia’s plantation timber industry, which includes the forest, wood, and paper products sector – Australia’s sixth-largest manufacturing industry. 

Aerometrex has been a trusted provider of geospatial data to the company and continues to work with them on a range of use cases. Highlighted below is a case study that showcases some of HQPlantations’ key challenges and demands from a spatial data perspective, which Aerometrex has worked collaboratively to provide solutions for.

The Requirement

As plantation growers, HQPlantations are faced with a range of multi-faceted challenges that relate to better understanding the environmental and commercial state of the forest they manage. 

A primary interest is the commercial value of the wood within the plantation estate, accounting for representative growth rates and the overall health of the trees. These investigations must be undertaken cost-effectively at scale and inform management strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the land they have stewardship over. 

The Solution

To generate a three-dimensional model of the forests across HQPlantations’ estate, Aerometrex designed a bespoke aerial survey that would produce foundational data that meets the requirements of their operational needs. 

Key to the suitability of the solution was the very high point density of the LiDAR point cloud and survey design which meant every tree was captured from multiple viewing angles and imaged fully in three dimensions. This survey design gave HQPlantations the structural detail required to facilitate an assessment of the standing growing stock of their timber estate.

Aerometrex delivered LiDAR data that was classified so that HQPlantations could separate the ground surface from the trees and man-made infrastructure within their sites. This ensured that metrics derived from the LiDAR survey were representative of their managed timber trees and not biased due to misclassification. Aerometrex also delivered high-resolution aerial imagery, to be used by HQPlantations as a reference layer for remote site inspections.

The Result / Benefits

The datasets provided by Aerometrex enabled HQPlantations to extract the core metrics they require to understand the growth and commercial value of their managed forests at scale. 

General Manager of Resources at HQPlantations, Mark Jones says, “We have engaged Aerometrex to conduct a series of airborne LiDAR and imagery campaigns in recent years. This data has now become instrumental in the monitoring of changes to growing stock across our plantation estate. The data has also become increasingly important for the planning of forest operations as the business transitions to precision forestry.”

Various teams within HQPlantations have embraced the LiDAR data across a range of use cases. The derived forest structural information has enabled:

  • Generation of up-to-date approximations of the timber yield, considering the response to internal and external factors such as the introduction of new genetics or recent climate variations and inter-annual rainfall variations.
  • Individual tree detection for achieving a stocking count and potential mortality in younger age stands that haven’t yet hit canopy closure.
  • Updating of the detailed terrain information, allowing operational teams to identify the orientation of plantations, natural drainage lines, old site cultivation, ripping & mound contours, and thus aid planning activities such as harvesting events.
  • Supplementing of satellite imagery with high-resolution aerial imagery to pick up areas that may have been affected by weather events, e.g., scorched in a fire.
  • Greater reliance on airborne LiDAR data to supplement ground surveys, for volumetric calculations due to safety and scalability reasons.

Repeat captures shall also allow HQPlantations to have an ongoing and updated view of the younger stands between the ages of 3 to 10 years, to calculate metrics for growth models over time and predict more accurately how the estate shall grow and what it’s worth to their investors.

Conclusion

Projects such as these, provide growers like HQPlantations with clear commercial benefits, related to the increased efficiency in their monitoring operations which reduce the reliance on costly traditional boots-on-ground field surveys as well as increase the scalability of remote sensing solutions. Companies can utilise remote sensing applications to reduce costs and improve the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of plantation characterisation. This can help them as well as their contract partners focus on continuous improvement and innovation towards sustainable plantation management. 

About HQPlantations

HQPlantations is an Australian company operating out of Queensland having acquired plantations from the Queensland State Government in 2010. Today, they are Queensland’s largest plantation grower, managing a 310,000-hectare estate of forest and lands. 

About Aerometrex

Aerometrex (ASX: AMX) is an Australian company that specialises in aerial surveying and the generation of spatial data from LiDAR and imagery. Their high-density, coherent LiDAR and aerial imagery data can generate a wide range of datasets that describe topography, vegetation and infrastructure across the landscape and can help inform plantation strategies.

Source and image credit: Aerometrex

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Automation & Electronics acquired by TS Manufacturing

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Both Automation & Electronics (A&E) a leading controls, optimization, and software provider for the sawmilling and wood products industry, headquartered in Mount Manganui, New Zealand and TS Manufacturing a leading manufacturer of industrial handling and processing equipment for the sawmilling and wood products industry are excited to announce the acquisition of remaining shares in A&E by TS Manufacturing.

As TS Manufacturing Co. enters an exciting new phase with the acquisition of Automation & Electronics (A&E), we are eager to share key updates and reassure our valued customers and partners about the future of our collaboration. We are proud to announce the purchase of the remaining shares from Brian Smith, Managing Director at A&E. Brian is transitioning to a part-time mentoring role, offering his invaluable expertise and guidance to both organizations. This new chapter not only marks a shift in Brian’s professional path but also the continuation of his impactful legacy in a new and meaningful way.

Brian and the dedicated teams at A&E, both in New Zealand and the USA, have forged deep connections with their customers, developing products that are integral to the industry. These relationships and innovations are the bedrock of A&E’s success and will continue to be a focal point as we move forward. Under Brian’s guidance and the continuity of the teams in New Zealand and USA, these bonds will only grow stronger, fostering further development and innovation in our products and services. We want to assure all customers that A&E continues to operate as an independent company and all teams and customer relationships remain independent and unchanged.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Brian Smith for his dedication and look forward to furthering our collective success. Thank you to all our customers and partners for your continued trust and support as we continue forging the path of A&E globally.

Source: TS Manufacturing, Automation & Electronics

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Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 programme out

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Last year, well over 250 forestry and log transport delegates from companies across Australasia, North and South America and Europe met up in Rotorua, New Zealand. The occasion? The long overdue Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 conference, workshops and exhibitions.

With so much effort going into larger transport companies decarbonising their fleets and innovation and early adoption of electric, hydrogen and dual-fuel hybrid technologies by log transport operators in this part of the world, the Rotorua venue, inside and outside (view details and images from the 2023 event) was packed. The place was humming.

Feedback from speakers, delegates and exhibitors from the 2023 event overwhelmingly were looking for another technology update in 2024. The drivers? The sheer pace of change with new and emerging technologies, the operational and commercial trials underway by local heavy transport fleets and the rapid deployment of this technology into forests and wood cartage operations.

Planned format for 2024

All delegates from the 2023 event were looking for the industry to get-together again – one year on – to learn more about the commercial and operational trials – on and offroad – by heavy transport fleets using a raft of these new alternative fuels.

And, we’re delivering. Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 is planned to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. It will again be providing that independent platform for forestry companies, log harvesting operations and those involved in log transport to get together.

A conference and workshop programme for the two-day event can be viewed here.

Registrations to the event are now live. Click here for details.

For those equipment and technology suppliers looking to get in front of this part of the industry, both inside and outside exhibition spaces are still available. Further information and bookings can be made directly with gordon.thomson@fiea.org.nz

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Capturing NZ at scale

In ForestTECH by kenwilson

Aerial Surveys Limited (ASL) is New Zealand’s oldest aerial surveying company with over forty years of capturing data at scale all over the country. A presentation given as part of the end of year Remote Sensing User Group meeting in November 2023 provides some detail on how foresters are able to search the vast amount of data archives using our website ( www.aerialsurveys.co.nz ) to find existing data, whether it is historical, most recent or even upcoming data in the near future.

Digital imagery is available from 2010 through to 2023, while our LiDAR library is from 2007 through to 2023. Both the imagery and LIDAR datasets can be searched using a graphical map window with the ability to peruse the data for any year selected using the slide bar. Clicking on any particular dataset will provide basic metadata on data specifications, dates and the survey reference number. A “Copy Reference” button can be used to paste the reference detail into the ASL contact form to request additional information and pricing.

ASLs historic film-based archive library stretches between the years 1943 through to 2010. It is currently a text-based search with the ability to filter using key words, selecting North or South Island or individual regions. A slide bar provides the ability to narrow the search to a start and end date which can be useful for foresters involved in pre-1990 ETS work to narrow the search around that date. A contact form can be used to request more information and pricing from ASL.

ASL has recently purchased two photogrammetric scanners from LINZ after the completion of their project to digitise the entire crown aerial film library. The purchase of these scanners ensures we are able to preserve a scanning service within New Zealand. In addition, ASL owns a film archive of around 350,000 aerial film negatives which will be scanned over the coming years.

For forest owners and managers who are after the latest imagery and LiDAR data, ASL has developed a portal which provides a map-based search of the most recent imagery delivered, new data being processed or areas where capture is in progress or planned. Users are able to upload their areas of interest and compare with existing project extents. When planned areas are close by, or partially cover the client’s areas, foresters can contact ASL to discuss extending the project capture over their area to obtain new data products at a reduced rate, eliminating most of the mobilisation costs that would be included if it was priced as a standalone project. Access to the ASL portal is under a non-disclosure agreement with secure access.

ASL will soon be launching a new subscription-based model to provide access to a New Zealand wide 3D mesh base map for use in the users GIS platform. The photogrammetric 3D mesh is created from rural stereo imagery from the most recent regional capture programs. The 3D mesh model will be continually updated with the latest imagery which will provide the most realistic and current 3D model of New Zealand.

The presentation can be viewed on the Tools for Foresters website here.

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John Deere announces strategic partnership

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH by kenwilson

Utilising the industry-leading Starlink network, this solution will allow machine owners facing rural connectivity challenges to fully leverage precision technologies. This partnership, an industry first, will enable John Deere customers to be more productive, profitable, and sustainable in their operations.

The SATCOM solution will connect both new and existing machines through satellite internet service and ruggedised satellite terminals. This will fully enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication, all of which help machine owners work more efficiently while minimizing downtime.

John Deere is bringing satellite communications service to rural areas at scale so those with cellular coverage challenges can maximize the value of connectivity to their operations. The SATCOM solution unlocks the John Deere tech stack so every machine owner can fully utilize their current precision agriculture technology in addition to the new innovative solutions Deere will deploy in the future.

John Deere’s SATCOM solution will leverage SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet constellation. To activate this solution, John Deere dealers will install a ruggedized Starlink terminal on compatible machines, along with a 4G LTE JDLink modem to connect the machine to the John Deere Operations Centre. The SATCOM solution will initially be available through a limited release in the United States and Brazil starting in the second half of 2024.

Source: John Deere

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Wood industry watching shipping costs

In HarvestTECH by kenwilson

The New Zealand wood industry is closely watching the conflict in the Red Sea, as global shipping costs rise as a result of the disrupted supply chain. The United States is advancing on the area after a string of attacks on commercial cargo ships by Iran-backed Yemen Houthi militants in recent months.

Rabobank said cargo vessels were avoiding the risk of more attacks at the Suez Canal by taking a detour around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding weeks to the voyage. Researcher Stefan Vogel said it would cost more to ship products like milk powder, red meat and logs from New Zealand to Europe.”Every vessel that’s longer at sea is slower to load their next cargo, and that’s limiting the available shipping capacity and driving freight costs up.”

Vogel said another concern was the availability of containers, as seen during the global supply chain disruptions from 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic. “A similar struggle for containers could materialise again if the Red Sea issues tighten global container freight capacity further.”

Forestry consultant Allan Laurie said higher freight costs and low availability of vessels, as a result of the conflict, were flowing down the chain to New Zealand forest owners. “We saw a pretty immediate impact. In fact, within three days shipping companies were wanting a $3 lift [per cubic metre].”

He said the handymax bulk carrier vessels, which typically picked up New Zealand logs, tended to get entwined in the mix when the vessel availability was depleted. “The focus has been on containers and the Suez Canal, but handis are in that mix availability and longer time voyages.”

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Source: RNZ

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Construction system inspired by Legos and…

In WoodTECH by kenwilson

Sweden’s Lundqvist Trävaru develops construction system inspired by Legos and computer games, allowing consumers to design and order construction kits online; system sources timber from SCA, reduces waste by 20%-40% compared to traditional manufacturing

Lundqvist Trävaru in Piteå, Sweden, is making it easier for ordinary people to build things made from wood by using a system that’s reminiscent of Lego and digital design solutions inspired by computer games. That may sound playful, but the owners’ objective is to revolutionise the construction industry – and they take it very seriously.

A modern production plant near the harbour in Piteå, a long way north on the east coast of Sweden, is home to a construction company that’s almost 90 years old. Lundqvist Trävaru AB was established in 1936, manufacturing furniture for the Swedish Armed Forces. Customers nowadays can directly design their own building in 3D on the Lundqvist website and get a price for the kit and assembly straight away. The system automatically creates shopping lists, transport bookings and drawings for applications for planning permission, too.

The company has a turnover of SEK 240 million, employs 60 people and is anything but traditional in its approach these days. Owners Jens Lundqvist, Deputy CEO, and Samuel Holmström, CEO, have been working since 2014 on realizing their shared vision of smarter, more flexible, more fun ways of building using wood – by taking the world of computer games they grew up with and incorporating it into the business.

“As far as I’m concerned, it all began because the slowness of many of the processes in the industry and the fact I couldn’t spend as long as I wanted on the right things when I started working in construction really wound me up. I was cutting and pasting numbers from one program to another, and customer had to wait an age for a price. That was when I started to form an idea of how an ideal system could work,” says Samuel.

Construction kit simlar to Lego

Lundqvist is now at the digital cutting edge of development thanks to the construction system developed by Jan Lundqvist, Jens’ father. He got his idea from Lego bricks, which can be combined in almost endless configurations. Following a devastating fire that destroyed all of the company’s assets in 2004, he made the crucial decision to invest fully in the kits on a profit and loss basis.

The Internet achieved a major breakthrough soon after, and the timing of that meant the kits could soon be delivered all over Sweden. This new focus sparked his son’s interest in taking over the family business one day. At around the same time, Samuel Holmström – who’s about the same age as Jens – was looking for a new career path when his plans to study computer engineering at university were dashed when he failed to gain the grade he needed in maths.

“There was a misunderstanding that I’m sure we could have resolved, but that said I was keen on a job ad from this small, exciting company by the name of Lundqvist that said its construction system was similar to Lego,” says Samuel.

Game developers – the key to success

He then became the first person to be taken on by the company in 2010, and he soon realized how much fun could be had testing ideas and seeing their impact quickly – a major positive of smaller companies. He and Jens were quick to contact Luleå University of Technology when they took over as majority owners. As part of a degree project, they worked together with computer game designers, computer game developers and systems scientists to create a prototype of the system that’s now used on the website to design holiday homes, garages, machine shops, stables and other structures.

“One of the first people we took on together was a game developer who’d been involved in the project,” says Samuel. More digital developers have been recruited since then and, of the 60-strong workforce, only four currently have a background in traditional construction.

“One unexpected effect of our focus on digital development is that as our digital systems have improved, the threshold for working with us has lowered. You don’t have to be a construction engineer to do everything, which has given us the advantage of being able to focus more on people than on their actual skills when we’re recruiting,” says Samuel.

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Source: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA)

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Electric trucks best bet to cut transport emissions

In HarvestTECH, Wood Transport by kenwilson

Transport is likely the hardest economic sector to decarbonise. And road vehicles produce the most greenhouse gas emissions of the Australian transport sector – 85% of its total. Freight trucks account for only 8% of travel on our roads but 27% of transport emissions.

We analysed the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Australian passenger cars and SUVs in a 2022 study. We have now looked at Australian trucks.

The 2022 study showed Australian electric cars already provided large cuts in emissions in 2019. The reduction was 30-40% compared to the overall on-road passenger vehicle fleet’s (life-cycle) emissions per kilometre in 2018. When renewables take over the electricity grid from which battery electric vehicles are charged, the cuts will be even bigger – around 75-80%.

Is it the same for Australian trucks? Our new study shows battery electric trucks are the best road transport option for getting closer to net-zero emissions. As the shift to renewables continues and batteries become more durable, these trucks are expected to deliver the largest and most certain emission cuts of 75-85% over their entire life cycle.Hydrogen-powered (fuel cell) trucks also provide large emission cuts, but not as much as battery electric trucks. Their future performance is the most uncertain at this stage.

What did the study look at?

We looked at the fleet-averaged life-cycle emissions of three Australian truck sizes and three technologies – diesel, hydrogen and electric – for the pre-COVID year 2019 and a future decarbonised scenario. This scenario is based on 90% renewables in the electricity grid and 90% green hydrogen (produced using renewable energy).

To explore the large and significant shifts that have occurred and operational results from larger transport fleets, including log transport operations over the past 12 months, this region’s major Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event has been set up for the forestry, log haulage and contracting companies in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Last year was a sell-out. Programme details can be found on the event website.

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Source: thedriven

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NZ log market update – January 2024 (Forest360)

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by kenwilson

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

The Christmas holidays have come and gone all too quickly for most and we are now returning to work a few kilos heavier, a touch of liver pain and with the same level of enthusiasm that a lightfingered Green MP has for fronting the media.

The few weeks off have enabled most ports to clear stocks as the New Year influx of volume starts to hit the wharves again. January export prices have peeled off a few dollars from December in most cases as shipping and foreign exchange costs increase and erode any increases in actual sales price. Foreign exchange (US:NZ) has increased around 4 cents over the past 10 weeks which does not sound like much but with every cent increase equating to around $3/m3 off the bottom line, it’s rather material.

As for December, the price spread between exporters is around $6/m3 with some in the high $120’s and others in the early $130’s for A grade shorts. Current CFR price (sales price in China in $US) is around $130/m3 which is likely to be the ceiling for a few months with Chinese New Year holidays around the corner. In market inventory has built somewhat to around 2.5Mm3 over the December month, an increase of approximately 30Km3 from November and this is likely to continue to build as Chinese demand falls off a cliff for a few weeks over the holiday period. Demand has been reasonably steady at 70Km3 per day however this has dropped in recent weeks as a very cold snap has kept people away from work.

All eyes will be on shipping costs and the arrivals of vessels from Europe as the Red Sea squabble builds momentum and additional cost of avoiding this route makes European deliveries to China as financially sound as Auckland light rail. Spot container shipping costs soured 173% in early January as Suez Canal traffic decreased 28% and the general inference is that this will likely flow onto bulk vessels, although this may push ship owners to prioritize routes such as NZ:China. The log trade between Australia and China has resumed and there are reports of a number of vessels planned for early 2024.

There is still not much in the way of good news out of China. Reuters recently reported that one of China largest wealth management companies, Zhongzhi Enterprise Group (ZEG) confirmed it was ‘severely insolvent’ and cannot pay its bills. This highlights the issues with China’s shadow banking sector as Reuters describe ZEG as ‘a shadow banking empire’ with liabilities of $460 billion yuan and assets of $200 billion yuan. To top that off, China has lost its prized number one spot as the USA’s top exporter, a position it has held for 17 years. USA imports from China have plummeted from a peak of 21% in 2017 to a shade under 14% in 2023. With around 10 years’ worth of empty housing stock, there is as much chance of a construction lead recovery in China as seeing a blue tie at Jacinda’s wedding.

Domestic demand for lumber products is still strong with many mills experiencing a lift in orders over the past few months. It is unclear whether this is due to increased confidence from a change of government or a restocking of retail supply, but we will take it either way. Pruned log prices are creeping up and supply looks to remain tight in the medium to long term.

Whanganui District Council is the latest in a string of district councils to introduce a target rating system for forestry, to cover the cost of the damage to rural roads (which are generally bereft of regular maintenance) by log trucks. The problem with targeted rates is that the cost has to be carried through the investment and, as sure as Winston likes whiskey, those funds will be used for other purposes and the rural road network will look no different. Any costs compounded throughout an investment either require a higher net return when the investment is realized or if that is not possible, investors will look to other investments that provide a better return on the investment.

The fairest method of rural road funding is a point-of-sale levy whereby the forest pays a per tonne cost as the forest is harvested and the funds go directly to the road maintenance fund of the appropriate district council. This will require a national levy similar to the existing Forest Growers Levy as councils cannot legally introduce levies.

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Source: Forest360

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December 2023 NZ log market update

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

December’s export prices were like the early Christmas present from Aunty Doris that you expected to be socks but turned out to be a bike. While there were expectations of a slight lift in prices for the month on the back of reducing supply, we probably didn’t expect the levels that we have been presented with which are around $8/m3 above November. Depending on what port you sell to, the number will vary, but for most North Island ports we are seeing A grade in the early $130/M3 region. It’s hard to get to that number if you reverse engineer the actual cost and revenue components but we won’t argue and ride the bike gleefully. There is a $10/m3 spread between some exporters and the higher numbers may be based on lower shipping and foreign exchange fixtures taken in November when both were significantly reduced.

The $130/m3 level is the magic number that arouses some fizziness in the woodlot trade and is a trigger point for many forest owners whereby the transporter is welcomed rather than farewelled. This combined with some drier weather (except for the East Coast and Hawkes Bay) will see increased demand for harvest crews in the provinces. The problem with that is the number of crews that no longer exist, due to the horrific years that have been, which will keep a lid on total supply volumes. How long we expect to see prices at this level is anyone’s guess and it’s important to note that this is not a demand driven number, it’s more to do with reduced supply than increased demand. Nothing’s changed in the construction market in China, there’s still more new, empty houses than there are people in China and many of the indebted construction firms continue to miss loan and bond repayments despite the Chinese government throwing stimulus packages around with Grant Roberston style abandon.

Port inventories in China have been reducing steadily over the past few months and are now at the 2.2Mm3 level which is the lowest point in memory. To put added pressure on the inventory position, one of the larger Chinese exporters has had around half a million m3 of this inventory frozen pending an audit which temporarily takes it out of the market and makes the buyers pucker about as much as Nicola Willis ahead of the recent Treasury fiscal update. This volume will unfreeze at some point but it’s unknown as to when that might be.

While supply will seasonally increase around NZ, it won’t be at previous levels and it’s more likely that the supply/demand gap will widen over the next quarter rather than decrease. Off-port Chinese demand is running at around 70,000m3 per day and we are heading into our Christmas shutdown with many companies taking a longer than usual break. To top that off, the Taupo windthrow salvage, which has been running at around 15,000 tonne per day, will start winding down as the bugs start chewing through the cambium layer, rendering those logs unsuitable for export – remembering this has been on the ground since late February. Chinese New Year celebrations are in early February this year which will see most of the Chinese sawmills close for near on a month and may provide the timeframe needed for a slight inventory restock.

If you’re a forest owner in the middle to lower South Island, that has the displeasure of having to supply Lyttleton, or Bluff ports, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re getting fleeced when you hear of @$130/m3 A grade as your export numbers will likely be $10-25/m3 off the Northern offerings. These lower returns are thanks to a myriad of issues including lower port/space/shipping efficiencies causing high on-port costs and poorer wood quality. The wood quality is climatic and results in logs that have more taper which gives terrible stowage and m3/tonne conversions. Unfortunately, in terms of export prices, you guys are the red-haired stepchild and Aunty Doris gave you socks, plus they’re too small.

Domestic demand is steady and although some sawmills are a bit nervy, business as usual is the order of the day. Now that the Chinese construction sector has pulled the handbrake on, Chinese sawmills have turned their hand to producing high-end engineered wood products and are now competing with our sawmillers in export markets such as Australia which is worrying. Quality of the Chinese product is more than likely dubious but in the end price talks. Pruned prices have had steady and successive rises thanks to reduced supply and many forest owners are deciding to prune forests again after a long run of unpruned regimes. Pruned supply nationwide will be under pressure over the next decade as the national age-class reduces along with the proportion of available pruned forests. If you made the decision to prune your forest in the past decade, my guess is you will be very happy with the investment.

The last government carbon auction for the year unsurprisingly failed to trigger the reserve price effectively wiping 15 million tonnes of carbon from the market and around a $1.3 billion from the govt coffers. The Climate Change Commission estimates that there’s currently an excess of 49 million units (tonnes) in the ETS compared to future emissions targets so the loss of 30% of that estimated excess is positive. There’s still a reasonable level of uncertainty within the carbon market, especially following the previous governments ‘tinkering’, however, National have stated they want to see stability in the carbon market and will likely scrap the review that was proposed under Labour. Current spot pricing is at $71/NZU following a dip post the auction failure last week.

So, what does the next few months look like in terms of log prices? Likely flat-ish as shipping and foreign exchange strength offset any gains in CFR (sale price in China), however it will all depend on the Chinese inventory position going forward. We don’t want to see prices steaming northward as the race to the top is generally followed by a race to the bottom – as shown in the graph. We’re all pretty keen to rule a line under 2023 and get to riding our new bikes – hopefully Santa is kinder to our South Island step cousins than aunty Doris. Wishing you all a Merry and safe Christmas, hohoho……….

Source: Forest360

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Cut surfaces as fingerprints – marker-free tracing of logs

In ForestTECH, HarvestTECH, Wood Transport, WoodTECH by innovatek

Until now, reliably tracing logs to their origin has been difficult to achieve. Researchers at Fraunhofer IPM and their partners have now shown that logs and trunk sections can be identified based on the structure of the cut surfaces. The recent research project developed a marker-free and tamper-proof method. The optical method allows up to 100 percent recognition – even under the rough environment conditions of the timber industry.

Timber is a valuable natural resource, and its role – particularly in the construction industry – is increasing. One objective of the EU timber regulation is to curb illegal timber trade. This is why the regulation requires wood-processing companies to ensure that timber can be traced to its origin along the entire supply chain. The numbering tags, RFID codes and simple colour markings commonly used for identifying timber cannot ensure a reliable proof of origin because they are not tamper-proof. So far, alternative methods of marking logs and trunk sections have failed due to high costs and a lack of digitalization.

Tamper-proof identification: Cut surfaces as fingerprints

Fraunhofer IPM has been collaborating closely with the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) to develop a camera-based tracing method. The research project for the identification of logs and trunk sections has recently been concluded. The Track & Trace Fingerprint method uses the unique structures on cut surfaces like a fingerprint, meaning that no timber marking is required.

High-resolution camera images of the cut surfaces are translated into a simple bit sequence, the fingerprint code. This code is matched with a unique ID and stored in a Cloud database. Tracking can thus be achieved by comparing new images of the same area with the corresponding bit sequence. This allows the tamper-proof identification of individual logs and trunk sections, even if the timber is mixed up during harvest and processing.

Three different camera systems have been developed for wood processing applications, each to suit specific lighting conditions: a system that is integrated in a forest harvester, a system for use in a sawmill and a hand-held system. There are two reasons why the creation of fingerprint codes generates a vast amount of data: first, the specific structure of the cut surface with knots, growth rings and rough surfaces, and second, the forest environment, which makes the reproduction of log positions impossible. This is why the images are pre-selected in a two-step process using a convolutional neural network (CNN).

High recognition rate

In a field study, the researchers could show that the fingerprint method is reliable, even in the rough environmental conditions in the forest and the sawmill. A total of 65 cut surfaces were recorded on the forest harvester, at the timber collection point and at the sawmill. The registered sections were then identified at the collection point and at the sawmill by new images being taken at each location respectively.

The recognition rate between the forest harvester and the timber collection point was 98.5 percent, in other words the system failed to recognize only a single log. Between the forest harvester and the sawmill, and between the timber collection point and the sawmill, the recognition rate was 100 percent. In the future, the researchers will be working on making the method suitable for other types of wood and for applications along the entire timber processing chain.

Source: www.ipm.fraunhofer.de

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First Volvo electric log truck in UK

In Wood Transport by innovatek

New Volvo electric log truck, said to first of its kind in the UK, is now in trial operation in the Scottish Highlands to decarbonize the sector.

A new electric log truck, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK , is now in operation in the Highlands as part of a trial to help decarbonise the sector. Scotlog Sales Ltd of Inverness has taken delivery of the new 44 tonne wagon, which will transport logs shipped in from the west coast to be hauled from the Port of Inverness to the West Fraser site at Dalcross.

The new “wagon and drag” truck – a rigid vehicle and trailer – is part of a three-year trial testing two state-of-the-art electric vehicles to move logs, cutting down on emissions. The Volvo truck is the first of their line to be produced in Europe.

The truck has been in operation for six weeks, firstly working at the Port of Inverness before taking to the roads and becoming a familiar sight on the A96. Scottish Forestry is investing £452,000 towards the trial which is partnering with Scotlog Sales , James Jones & Sons , the Volvo Group and Cleaner EV.

A second electric truck (artic unit) has been in operation in the south of Scotland with forestry business James Jones & Sons . Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Around seven million tonnes of wood are harvested from Scotland’s forests each year and transported to sawmills, board manufacturers and other processors, mostly on 44 tonne diesel trucks.

“The forestry sector is keen to use modern technology to tackle timber transport issues as part of its overall efforts to decarbonise and reach net zero. I’m pleased that this second truck is now working in the Highlands and look forward to hearing more about this innovative trial and how it can help cut transport emissions.”

A key element of the three-year trial is that all the partners involved are committed to sharing their experiences of running the electric trucks with others in the timber and rural haulage sectors. Creel Maritime consultants are working to monitor the use of the trucks and arranging knowledge exchange opportunities over the course of the following three years.

“This is a very exciting project but there are big challenges in running HGV trucks on electric power, mainly on cost grounds and infrastructure” said Neil Stoddart, director of Creel Maritime Ltd . “This three-year trial will look into all these aspects and I’m keen to share as much detail on this with the industry. So far both trucks are matching expectations both in terms of commercial performance and driver operation.”

Log transport is an integral part of the forestry sector chain and reducing its emissions through technology and different modes of transport is a positive move. The timber supply chain relies on many parts of the forestry sector and creating new woodlands is part and parcel of this effort, ensuring timber is available well into the future.

Leaders from the forestry, rural, environmental and community sectors are to meet in Perthshire next week at the Woodland Creation Summit, which will be chaired by Ms Gougeon. It will look at new opportunities at expanding Scotland’s woodland creation rates, whether it is by new planting or natural regeneration.

Source: Inverness Courier

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Which will be the engine of the future?

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Truck manufacturers are under immense pressure to cut emissions. But should they bet on fully electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or even both? Multinationals are reaching different conclusions. And the wrong choice could be expensive.

Check out the video below.

And for local forestry and log transport operators, electric, hydrogen and dual fuel options have been going through their own trials and testing on NZ and Australian roads. Equipment suppliers and heavy transport fleets (as well as very early testing on some wood harvesting machines) will be detailing results, lessons and performance figures as part of the eagerly awaited back-up to last year’s major Wood Transport & Logistics event.

When? It runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Full details on the event and the programme can be found on the event website

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Robot rollout begins in NZ

In Wood Transport by innovatek

DHL Supply Chain has deployed a warehouse automation solution at its distribution centre in Highbrook, Auckland, NZ. Using technology from US-based company Locus Robotics, the project will be used to streamline the product supply chain for DHL’s major customer Schneider Electric.

DHL is the first in the country to rollout the Locus Robotics solution, which will see 10 new autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to collaborate with its warehouse team using the LocusOne warehouse automation platform. The deployment is a part of DHL’s ongoing partnership with Locus Robotics which will see 5000 Locus Origin AMRs rolled out globally.

LocusOne is a data-driven system that directs AMRs to pick and drop locations around the warehouse. DHL team members assist them by picking, loading and unloading items for despatch. The collaboration between team members and AMRs for warehouse throughput results in the automation of many time-consuming and laborious tasks traditionally performed by humans, such as walking long distances to pick locations and manoeuvring pick carts.

It results in faster product picking and team members can be redeployed to other tasks requiring a human touch. The Locus Origin AMRs feature a tablet screen and scanner to interface with team members, and eight cameras and sensors to safely navigate warehouses and around people.

The AMRs operate for up to 14 hours per charge and calculate the shortest possible routes to pick locations around the warehouse, to maximise performance throughout the shift. DHL New Zealand managing director Matt Casbolt says he’s pleased to be leveraging the global knowledge within his company to deliver a more effective solution for customers in New Zealand.

“We’ve been following the deployment of LocusOne at our company’s sites in the United States, Europe and in Australia with keen interest and we’re pleased to be introducing this technology for our customers in New Zealand.

Source: transporttalk

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72% of region’s energy needs through biomass

In Wood Residues by innovatek

Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions of NZ can expect to see increased demand for wood residues as the region moves onto clean energy.

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows how the forestry sector could play a key role to push more fossil fuels out of the energy system with up to 72% of the region’s energy needs being met by low-carbon fuel source, biomass.

The Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insights and recommendations that aim to improve efficiency and future proof energy investments and make the move more straightforward for local businesses.

“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman is a forestry-rich region, and the insights show the area is well positioned to use its resources to bring in a clean and clever approach to industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.“There will likely also be enough left over to support nearby regions with biomass – so there is clear commercial opportunity in local forestry. Additionally, it allows electricity suppliers to anticipate future infrastructure needs in the area.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region – particularly in the horticultural and viticultural sectors.Producers like J.S Ewers, Indevin and Talleys as well as Nelson and Blenheim hospitals and meat processors AFFCO – are all at various stages of lowering their emissions.

“A noteworthy example is Nelson Pine Industries. The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry.”

“These clean energy projects can also support the New Zealand manufacturing sector – creating new local jobs. It is fantastic to see businesses in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman considering how they can use biomass productively and bring forward a move to renewables,” said Sutherland.

The report had valuable input from the Nelson Regional Development Agency & Economic Development Unit at the Marlborough District Council, Transpower, Nelson Electricity, Network Tasman and Marlborough Lines, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

Some producers in the top of the south had already begun lowering their emissions by switching to using biomass instead of fossil fuels, such as Nelson Pine Industries. “The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry,” Sutherland said.

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Copies of the full 160-page report can be viewed here

Note: To again capitalise on the huge momentum already seen in the regions with forest companies organising the extraction of waste from both skid sites and forest cutovers to meet the ever-increasing demand for biomass, the tenth Residues2Revenues 2024 event is being planned for next year. Mark the dates 30–31 July 2024, Rotorua, New Zealand into your diaries for next year.

Source: EECA

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Potential for biofuel in the South

In Wood Residues by innovatek

Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in the Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman region can expect to see increased demand for wood residues as the region moves onto clean energy.

A new report, published today by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows how the forestry sector could play a key role to push more fossil fuels out of the energy system with up to 72% of the region’s energy needs being met by low-carbon fuel source, biomass.

The Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insights and recommendations that aim to improve efficiency and future proof energy investments and make the move more straightforward for local businesses.

“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman is a forestry-rich region, and the insights show the area is well positioned to use its resources to bring in a clean and clever approach to industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.

“There will likely also be enough left over to support nearby regions with biomass – so there is clear commercial opportunity in local forestry. Additionally, it allows electricity suppliers to anticipate future infrastructure needs in the area.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region – particularly in the horticultural and viticultural sectors.

Producers like J.S Ewers, Indevin and Talleys as well as Nelson and Blenheim hospitals and meat processors AFFCO – are all at various stages of lowering their emissions.

“A noteworthy example is Nelson Pine Industries. The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry.”

“These clean energy projects can also support the New Zealand manufacturing sector – creating new local jobs. It is fantastic to see businesses in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman considering how they can use biomass productively and bring forward a move to renewables,” said Sutherland.

The report had valuable input from the Nelson Regional Development Agency & Economic Development Unit at the Marlborough District Council, Transpower, Nelson Electricity, Network Tasman and Marlborough Lines, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

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Source: EECA

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Pan Pac on the road back

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Nine months ago, Pan Pac Forest Products’ Whirinaki site was flooded under 2m of silt and water when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Hawke’s Bay region. The company incurred around $300 million in damage to its business and forests. Since then, Pan Pac has been working hard to clear and repair the site, fix damage to forests and roads, and return to normal operations.

To recognise the incredible efforts made by everyone over this period, the company recently held a thank you event for over 600 workers. Pan Pac’s leadership team acknowledged the months of hard work and the progress that has been made since 14 February. The company screened a video about its Sustainability Programme, filmed before and after the cyclone, that also features interviews with staff on the impact of seeing their workplace inundated with water.

Pan Pac marked a milestone in October, when its Chipmill became operational again. Its Lumber business is expected to begin operations in mid-January, while the Pulp business will begin the first phase of operations later in February.

Source and image credit: Pan Pac

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Prolam re-opens Motueka sawmill – a boost for Nelson’s timber industry

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The first logs in more than five years have been milled at a restored sawmill on Little Sydney Road, Motueka marking a new chapter for the region’s timber industry.

Closed in 2017, Nelson family-owned business Prolam has been working to reinstate the 80-year-old mill to support the production of its innovative structural timber solutions.  

Prolam is one of New Zealand’s leading manufacturers of glue laminated timber building products and the mill will play a pivotal role in the company’s ability to meet the building industry’s demand for more sustainable, locally made building materials.

Prolam Managing Director, John Woodman, said the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the timber processing industry and the local economy was front and centre in his decision to purchase the site in 2017 and get the mill back up and running. 

“We have seen seven or eight mills close across New Zealand in the last 10 years, and when we started planning to reinstate the mill in 2021, structural grade timber was in short supply,” Mr Woodman said. 

“We source and use select quality New Zealand plantation grown radiata pine in our glue laminated timber beams, posts and portals and while supply is no longer an issue, our ability to mill a proportion of our own timber will have significant benefits for us and our customers.”

Mr Woodman said Prolam has carved a reputation as an industry leader in the supply of premium quality engineered timber solutions in fast lead times and at a competitive price. 

“The commencement of production at the mill represents a step change in our production capability and secures our control across key elements of the manufacturing process,” he said.

“It also supports our commitment to the long-term sustainability of the New Zealand timber industry and optimising the use of timber as a renewable resource in the design and construction of residential and commercial buildings.”

Prolam employed experienced Sawmill Manager Damon Taggart to run the reinstatement program and the mill once it was operational, and engaged New Zealand-based companies, Pacific Sawmill Engineering and Tui Technology, to assist in the planning, design and oversight of the mill’s refurbishment. 

“We have invested in new and proven milling technology to create a vertically integrated glue laminated production facility that will enable us to debark logs, mill, kiln dry and treat the timber ready for the lamination process,” Mr Woodman said.

The Prolam range of glue laminated timber products are available from timber merchants and wholesalers nationwide. The Prolam PLX20 Beam was a finalist in the 2023 New Zealand Timber Design Awards.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

Contact Ebony Wood from Prolam on 03 526 7436 or email ebony.wood@prolamnz.com 

www.prolamnz.com

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A groundbreaking leap for UAV-Lidar mapping

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

DJI selected Intergeo in Berlin as the stage for unveiling the DJI Zenmuse L2. This highly integrated Lidar system builds on the success of DJI’s Zenmuse L1 to bring new benefits to the geospatial community. Thanks to the enhanced RGB camera, upgraded Lidar module and improved precision, professionals utilizing the DJI Matrice 300 RTK or DJI Matrice 350 RTK platform can now achieve heightened accuracy, efficiency and reliability in 3D data acquisition.

Furthermore, when combined with DJI Terra, the DJI Zenmuse L2 delivers a comprehensive solution for 3D data collection and high-accuracy post-processing. This product launch marks a significant leap forward for DJI – a global leader in civilian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) and cutting-edge camera technology – in the geospatial UAV-Lidar market.

“The DJI Zenmuse L2 marks a new era of 3D data acquisition,” said Christina Zhang, senior director of corporate strategy at DJI. “Three years ago, we were excited to introduce our reliable and cost-effective Lidar system for aerial platforms used by land surveyors, powerline inspectors, forestry professionals and more.

This solution is paramount in providing real-time 3D data, efficiently capturing the details of complex structures and delivering highly accurate reconstructed models. In line with our aim of promoting industry development in all enterprise verticals, we are continuing to tackle user pain points through technical innovation and reshaping industry productivity.

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Source: GIM-International

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Sky’s the limit for up-and coming foresters

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

If ForestTECH 2023 is anything to go by, the future of forestry is bright. Three forestry students presented at the conference this week, marking the end of a student competition, organised by Scion and supported by Tools for Foresters.

The inaugural competition, funded by the Precision Silviculture Programme, led by Forest Growers Research through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund, aimed to address the lack of standard operational procedures for using UAVs to collect tree survival data.

As part of the competition, Toi Ohomai forestry students, Scion and Forest Protection Services staff captured data from two sites using three methods of UAV survival assessment. Three students analysed collection method costs, accuracy and ease of use and were tasked with writing a report, a standard operational procedure (SOP) and making a presentation about one of the collection methods. The report and SOP will be shared with industry through the Forest Growers Research and Tools For Foresters websites.

The three students were University of Canterbury Bachelor of Forestry Science student Blake Singleton and Toi Ohomai Forest Management Diploma students Jake Emmens and Whanarua Edmonds. They looked at using multispectral orthoplotting, RGB orthoplotting, and 100% site captures with high-resolution imagery respectively.

Whanarua Edmonds was named the winner and given the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise care bundle valued at $7000. Edmonds said he descends from a long line of bushmen with him being the fifth generation to work in the forest industry. While the journey was challenging, he says he is stoked and grateful to take the win. “I guess you could say it’s in the blood. I’ve chosen to build on their hard work and take it to the next level with a different approach to the industry.”

Scion Geospatial Scientist Robin Hartley says the idea for a student competition arose at ForestTECH in Melbourne last year and industry had been hugely supportive with Ferntech donating the prize, Manulife Forest Management (NZ) Ltd providing the surveying sites and Indufor providing their seedling detection analysis services free of charge. Members of the TFF committee and Scion scientists also donated time to grade student outputs and help mentor the students.

Hartley said it was important to foster the next generation as forestry required outside the box thinking. He said the students all had different and refreshing approaches and he hoped to host the competition again.

Claire Stewart, who runs the Forest Growers Research Precision Silviculture programme, said the competition fed into the Tools for Foresters goal of building skills from the ground up. “Working with the students is key to getting the workforce that we need for tomorrow. The quality of their work has been so good we look forward to seeing how we can continue this work.”

Photo: FIEA. L-R, Robin Hartley, Jake Emmens, Blake Singleton, Whanarua Edmonds

Source: Scion

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Revolutionising planted forests inventory management

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Scion is revealing a prototype for a new interactive tool providing the forestry industry with powerful inventory information to make management, harvesting and wood processing decisions easier. Called ‘Forest Insights’, scientists from the Crown Research Institute will outline the tool’s capabilities and applications for the industry at ForestTECH 2023 in Rotorua next week.In a world increasingly driven by data and technology, the interactive tool powered by machine learning and deep learning models provides forest owners, managers and wood processors with an overview of the changing availability and growth of planted radiata pine over time. The prototype is currently focused on modelling of East Coast pine forests but Scion has plans to provide the same data and for a wider range of trees for other regions, with Bay of Plenty next cab off the rank.

Scion portfolio leader for New Value from Digital Forests and Wood Sector, Grant Evans, says the prototype will support forestry and wood processing companies to make more informed management decisions. “Long term, it will help anyone with trees planted for production know what they’ve got, where it is and ultimately, what they can do with it in the future.”

Forest Insights is more than just a mapping tool; it’s set to become a window into the heart of commercial forests. It has been built using cutting-edge technologies, including LiDAR, to detect and identify stands of trees to quantify their volume and maturity over time. It outlines the boundaries for each stand of trees and provides essential details, such as age class, area in production, and the number of stems per hectare.

The dashboard view for Forest Insights

Forest Insights also tracks the history of planting and harvesting, which provides valuable insights into changing inventory levels. This inventory data is more than statistics; it’s the key to unlocking investments and strategic decisions for stakeholders across the timber supply chain. Automatically detecting commercial radiata pine forests using trained Deep Learning Convolutional Neural Networks by their boundaries is a game changer for forestry companies. What used to be a laborious task of drawing polygons is now replaced with the click of a button.

Additionally, Forest Insights levels the playing field for smaller forest owners, he says. “These individuals, who own smaller woodlots or stands, can use the tool to see where other small lots in their region are maturing at a similar time and potentially co-operate to negotiate better pricing from mills.” This democratisation of information ensures that the benefits of Forest Insights extend to all players in the industry.

As a prototype it offers a glimpse into the future, with researchers already planning features that will provide additional value. Scion is already working with the University of Canterbury to identify tree species beyond radiata pine, aligning with the Government’s goal of having 20% non-radiata pine forests by 2030. Currently, such measurements rely on people voluntarily reporting their data, making it difficult to track progress. Forest Insights intends to change that by using satellite imagery and LiDAR data from Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand to detect different tree species accurately.

Harvest tracking

Beyond tree species identification, the prototype goes a step further by tracking forest activities. Collaborating with Indufor Asia Pacific Limited who enhanced the detection training, each orange segment on the map represents an area where harvesting has occurred. This functionality not only helps in tracking inventory but it is hoped, with further training, it would provide a means to assess forest damage following natural disasters.

“For the East Coast, it could also be used as a tool to reveal where planted forests are being abandoned or are no longer being harvested due to concerns relating to planting on erosion-prone land,” says Evans.“For forestry and wood processing companies, this data offers them a holistic view of their assets and a basis for well-informed decisions.”

The journey of Forest Insights started in 2022 and is a collaborative effort. Scion’s data scientists have supplied all the models and data, working with Indufor Asia Pacific Limited to create the online tool and dashboard interactivity. Testing with a handful of industry users has yielded positive feedback, with at least one forestry company expressing interest in using Forest Insights to validate their commercial forestry decisions.

Other collaborators have expressed interest in joining the Forest Insights project, and with their support Scion aims to expand its reach across New Zealand. The aim is to expand its functionality and develop layers of complexity over time. Scion researchers have a grand vision for the prototype to serve as the foundation for a digital twin of New Zealand’s entire forestry estate.

“Imagine having access to information on Eucalyptus trees’ age, harvest readiness, and potential markets, including its suitability for pulp and paper, or feedstock for biorefineries, all neatly presented on a map,” says Evans. “By continuing to work collaboratively with industry and our key partners, we’re committed to expanding the capabilities of Forest Insights to meet everyone’s needs and add value to the forestry and wood processing sectors.”

Source: Scion

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Te Kōtuku grants to help small-scale wood processors

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

A new grants programme to help small-scale wood processors lift productivity and capacity will open on 20 November 2023. Te Kōtuku is for small-scale wood processors specialising in non-Pinus radiata wood products.

Te Kōtuku will provide grants of $50,000 or more to small scale processors of alternate species who want to scale up or improve their production. To be eligible, operators need to process less than 15,000m3 per annum of log input (or equivalent) of non-radiata tree species.

Examples of proposals that could be funded include portable sawmills, loaders, log decks, planers, moulders, dehumidifying or solar kilns, waste chippers, thermal treatment, other new equipment or upgrades.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s Wood Processing Growth Fund team encourages anyone interested to enquire ahead of the opening date.

Te Kōtuku is administered by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and is part of the Wood Processing Growth Fund. Other types of support are available through the Wood Processing Growth Fund including grants for pre-investment activities and finance for capital projects.

Contact:

Email: wpgf@mpi.govt.nz | Ph 0800 00 83 33 | Visit: Wood Processing Growth Fund

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Anonymous process revolutionised company’s recruitment

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Metsä Group, a Finnish forest industry group present in about 30 countries, is one of the few companies in Finland using anonymous recruitment as their main recruitment method. The goal of anonymous recruitment is to reduce the impact of unconscious biases and offer all job applicants equal opportunities during the recruitment process.

Anonymous recruitment has been Metsä Group’s main recruitment method since November 2022. It means that the applicants’ personal data such as name, age, gender and educational institution are hidden during the screening stage. The goal is that an increasingly diverse group of applicants reaches the interview stage, ensuring that the most suitable person is selected for the role, regardless of their personal characteristics.

“Anonymous recruitment was originally introduced in 2021 as part of Metsä Group’s comprehensive equality programme, and it has been the company’s main recruitment method for a year now. We welcome people from various backgrounds and life situations. We believe the best ideas emerge in diverse teams, and anonymous recruitment is an excellent way to increase the diversity of our workplace community,” says Susanna Tainio, Metsä Group’s VP, Recruitment and HR Development.

Currently, anonymous recruitment is used in more than 80 per cent of Metsä Group’s roughly 700 annual recruitments. It will also be adopted gradually in mass recruitments such as apprenticeship training and summer jobs. The latest round of apprenticeship applications was conducted completely anonymously for the first time.

The impact of anonymous recruitment is monitored closely. For example, the share of women among current recruits is 17 per cent higher than in 2021. This increase in the share of women comes not only from anonymous recruitment but also from the equality work carried out in Metsä Group. Based on the feedback from the company’s various units, the group of applicants reaching the interview stage is now more diverse.

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Source: Metsa Group

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AU$137 million recycled pulp mill for Queensland

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

A pulp mill using recycled fibre is set to be built in Australia that will then export the output material. An investment of AU$137 million is being made into what will be Australia’s largest paper recycling facility that will be located in South East Queensland. It is a joint initiative by Auswaste Recycling and the state of Queensland and Australian national Government.

The new facility will process an estimated 220,000 tonnes per annum of recycled waste paper and cardboard into pulp for export. The Australian Recycled Pulp and Paper Project (ARPPP) forms part of a AUD$1 billion plan to boost recycling infrastructure across the country, while supporting jobs and keeping valuable material out of landfill. Construction of the ARPPP facilities is planned to commence mid-2024, and projected to be completed in the middle of 2025.

For further coverage click here

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Moisture Content Control During Drying – TRUMARK-EVO

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Concurrent with the progression of drying technologies towards continuous drying systems (CDS) the importance of knowing the moisture content (MC) of the timber during drying is essential. Traditionally this has been from an “end point” perspective i.e., when the average target MC has been achieved.

Today’s timber drying operations need to monitor the rate of drying from “green to dry”. There are two main driving factors. The first is the focus to reduce overdried timber, which wastes energy (thermal and electrical), increases distortion and reduces drying capacity.  The second is the desire for automated moisture control drying to consider product change (a change in board thickness), differing winter vs. summer drying times, a change is species being dried and the problem of getting log resource from various locations.

The Challenge

  • Accurate MC measurement above and below fiber saturation
  • Seamless integration of Wellons Winkiln and Winkiln-Evo control software.
  • Automatic push rate adjustment in CDS units.

The Solution

As part of our R&D program, Wellons has developed a “wireless” MC monitoring system called TRUMARK-EVO.  The TRUMARK-EVO MC sensors travel down the length of the CDS unit monitoring the lumber MC as the lumber progresses through the drying process. In a two track CDS (counter flow or parallel flow design) different product or species can be dried on each track.

Control Integration

TRUMARK-EVO operates in conjunction with Wellons’ computerized control system (Winkiln-Evo) to automate the drying process. The MC of the lumber is measured throughout the drying process, while Winkiln-Evo continually monitors and adjusts the drying process. 

Description of Equipment

The TRUMARK-EVO system typically includes the following components:

  • Communications Panel to interface between the control computer and distribution panel(s).
  • Distribution Panel to interface with sensor assemblies.
  • Sensor Assemblies consisting of the sensor plates and transmitting sensor panels. 
  • Antennas consisting of transmitting antennas, receiving antenna panel and grounding support. 
  • RFID Reader to identify the sensor assemblies as they enter the drying chamber.

Ease of Installation

The system requires no major changes or modifications to the drying system. Transmitting and receiving panel installation, and interconnecting wiring, can be done by the mill electricians or an electrical contractor. 

Ease of Use

The system requires minimal additional operator training. Sensor plates are durable, and are easy to use. 

Maintenance

TRUMARK-EVO requires minimal maintenance components are designed for the harsh conditions found in lumber drying systems, including high temperature applications. 

Durable stainless-steel sensor plates require no special handling or cleaning. The TRUMARK-EVO distribution and sensor panels require no maintenance and are designed for simple installation and easy access. 

Source: Wellons

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WPMA appoints two new Directors

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA) is pleased to announce the appointment of two new Directors.

Ian Jones (photo) is the General Manager for Fletcher Wood Products which includes the operating businesses of Waipapa Pine and Renewable Wood Fuels. He is responsible for the strategy and construction of the new NZ$275m wood panels plant in Taupo. Ian has a long history with Fletcher Building working in businesses across steel manufacturing, steel distribution, pipes, cement, aggregates, and concrete.

Ben Campbell is Head of Markets and Innovation at Abodo Wood Limited and has been involved in the timber and building products sector for over 20 years. He is passionate about improving the sustainability of the construction industry by offering renewable alternatives to old growth timbers for the benefit of future generations.

‘We are delighted to welcome such high-quality individuals to our board’ said CEO Mark Ross ‘The industry experience and insights they bring to the table will be invaluable as we bolster our vision of boosting New Zealand’s economic and sustainable future through sector growth’.

The duo joins experienced WPMA directors, chair John Eastwood, vice-chair Dr Jon Ryder (Oji Fibre Solutions), Darren Stead (Red Stag Timberlab), Tony Clifford (Pan Pac Forest Products), Craig Dawson (Westco Lumber), Mark Taylor (Tenon Clearwood Limited Partnership), Mark Hansen (Rosvall Sawmill), Alan Hartley (Niagara Sawmilling Company) and Brendan Smith (Juken NZ).

“I would like to acknowledge all our Board members for their ongoing commitment of time and effort in providing their valuable leadership’, said Ross. ‘At the same time, we farewell Garth Mortenson (North Sawn Lumber) and thank him for his important contributions.

Source: WPMA

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Victoria paves way for heavy duty electric trucks

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Victoria is the first state or territory in Australia to announce the permanent removal of one of the main hurdles for heavy-duty electric trucks to operate on local roads.

The state this week announced it would allow heavy duty electric trucks to operate with a 7.5 tonne weight on the steer axle, considered essential for heavy duty electric trucks because of the design and positioning of the batteries.

The permission will apply to certain roads identifies under a  Low/Zero Emission Heavy Vehicle (LZEHV) access map, and is has been welcome because it is the first time the concession has been made permanent, rather than just a trial.

The Victorian government announcement follows a Federal government announcement to allow wider trucks up to 2.55 metres through the Safer Freight Vehicles package. The previous 2.5 metre width limit and 6.5-ton steer axle weight limit were two key barriers preventing electric trucks from operating on Australian roads.

Click here for the full article

Source: The Driven

Image credit: Volvo

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Insect damage app & sawmill concept pick up major awards

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

An artificial intelligence application developed by Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch for detecting insect damage in forests has won the Quality Innovation Award in a competition organised by the Finnish Quality Association, Excellence Finland. Metsä Group’s Future Sawmill concept won the Business Innovation category of the competition. The Finnish Quality Association presented the awards on Wednesday 15 November.

The award-winning application from Metsä Group and CollectiveCrunch detects insect damage in forests such as damage caused by spruce bark beetles before it is visible to the human eye. The application is based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and open data.

The Finnish Quality Association considered the insect damage app the best entry in the innovation category because the accurate information it provides enables a rapid response to insect damage that helps limit the spread of damage. The application also won the Environmental Innovation category.

“Global warming has rapidly increased the risks to the health of Finnish forests. In 2022, there was more bark beetle damage, and the affected area spread further north than ever. We decided at the time that we needed a real-time method for detecting insect damage to maintain forest health and carbon sinks in our changing climate. The AI application we developed with CollectiveCrunch will help us and forest owners work together to take care of the health and carbon sinks of our forests,” says Olli Leino, Director, Digitalisation, from Metsä Group’s Wood Supply and Forest Services.

Metsä Group’s Future Sawmill concept was awarded in the Business Innovation category of the Quality Innovation Awards competition. It was praised for the efficiency of its production process, based on the use of machine vision, robotics and blade technology, and for using 100% of its wood raw material.

Metsä Group, in collaboration with equipment suppliers, developed a continuous production model for sawmills, where sawmill operations are controlled from a central control room without any manual work stages. The know-how and technical advances achieved in this work will benefit equipment suppliers and the competitiveness of the entire mechanical forest industry in the years to come.

The Quality Innovation Award is both a national and international innovation competition that rewards interesting high-quality innovations. The competition criteria include novelty value, usability, learning, customer orientation and effectiveness.

Source: Metsa Group

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State-of-the-art renewable hydrogen refuelling station launched

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and Swinburne University of Technology’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2) have today launched a state-of-the-art clean hydrogen refuelling station, purpose-built for enabling hydrogen research.  

The $2.5 million refuelling station uses green hydrogen produced with electricity from renewable sources that allows hydrogen cars to travel over 600km emissions-free on a full tank.  

Located at CSIRO’s Clayton site in Victoria, the station showcases the real-world application of hydrogen and will be used to demonstrate hydrogen’s utility for transport.  

It will also be used to test emerging hydrogen technology and train the next generation on the use of hydrogen stations to ensure Australia remains internationally competitive. 

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Doug Hilton said hydrogen will play a significant role in Australia’s energy transition and the decarbonisation of our road transport sector. 

“The technology is an exciting piece in the puzzle in Australia’s renewable energy future and will deliver long-term community and environmental benefits, boost the economy and create new jobs and opportunities for Australia and Australians,” Dr Hilton said. 

“This is innovative, inventive, inspired technology that builds the sovereign capabilities Australia needs to transition to net zero.” 

Professor Karen Hapgood, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Swinburne University of Technology said the station, co-funded by VH2 and the Victorian Government’s Higher Education State Investment Fund, represented a unique opportunity.  

“The launch of the hydrogen station brings Australia another step closer to creating a carbon neutral world by 2050 or earlier,” Professor Hapgood said. 

“As a university with sustainability in our DNA, we are proud to be playing an important role in driving the implementation of the hydrogen economy in Australia, through our Victorian Hydrogen Hub and collaboration with CSIRO. 

“Hydrogen plays a key part in our transition to clean energy, and demonstration projects such as these help to test technical, regulatory and economic aspects of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and support the urgent training and workforce development for this expanding hydrogen energy ecosystem.”  

The refuelling station can generate up to 20kg of green hydrogen a day via electrolysis, and has a storage capacity of 80kg, enough for more than 10 cars. 

The station is a significant component of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission, which aims to support national and global decarbonisation through leading research and the development of a commercially viable Australian hydrogen industry, comprising both domestic and export chains.  

“Hydrogen is increasingly being recognised as ‘the fuel of the future’ – and for good reason,” Dr Hilton said. 

“Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe and, when used to power fuel cell electric vehicles the only exhaust product is water vapour.”  

Victorian Hydrogen Hub Director, Mr Gordon Chakaodza said the collaboration with CSIRO was a key pillar in the hub’s mission to further Australia’s hydrogen economy.  

“We are using state-of-the-art facilities to demonstrate to industry and the community the capabilities of fuel cell electric vehicles. This will cement Victoria as a key player in accelerating the deployment of hydrogen cars in Australia,” Mr Chakaodza said.  

Hydrogen refuelling facts 

  • There are two makes of hydrogen car available in Australia at the moment: the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo.
  • There are 12 hydrogen refuelling stations either operating or under construction in Australia.
  • Hydrogen cars take about 6 minutes to fill up from empty. 

Source and image credit: CSIRO

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$225 Million For Climate-Focused Forest Fund

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Manulife Investment Management announced that it has raised US$224.5 million in commitments at the initial close of Manulife Forest Climate Fund LP, reaching nearly the halfway mark towards the fund’s targeted US$500 million in committed capital.

Launched in late 2022, and aimed at providing investors with the opportunity to invest in nature and climate change mitigation and delivering value through carbon credits, the new fund invests in a globally diversified portfolio of sustainably managed forestland assets, where carbon sequestration is prioritized over timber production. The strategy also includes the establishment of new forests through afforestation or reforestation.

According to Tom Sarno, Global Head of Timberland Investments at Manulife Investment Management, the capital raise comes as amid strong demand for climate change solutions and “strong investor interest in strategies that may help support carbon emissions reductions and net zero commitments.”

“We believe that an investment in Manulife Forest Climate Fund can help support investors’ various climate goals and objectives and that the experience we have in sustainable forest management, as well as our commitment to high-quality carbon sequestration, brings additional value to the strategy,” added Mr Sarno.

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Source: Carbon Herald

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Vale Graeme Black

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The global forest industry is mourning the loss of a true visionary after the passing of Graeme Black.

Described by Eileen Newbury, former FWPA Head of Marketing and Communication, “as a beautiful and kind man with such vision,” company directors Lignor, Peter Burton and Steve Baldwin are remembering him for his “intellectual curiosity, kindness and resolve.”

Mr Black, CEO and major shareholder of Lignor was a former director of family-owned Craigpine Timber Ltd NZ and Simmonds Lumber Pty Ltd and will leave an indomitable mark on all around him. His family was a significant shareholder in the first plant in New Zealand to produce the market-disrupting product, MDF, before selling the plant to Carter Holt Harvey in the early 1980s.

Driven by a commitment to environmental change, he was an entrepreneur ahead of his time. In 1987, Craigpine Timber voluntarily stopped milling NZ native forest well before it was legally protected. A decade later, in 1997, he successfully pushed for Craigpine Timber – which exports radiata pine to 22 global markets – including Norway, Estonia, Latvia and other European countries, to become the first company in Australasia to achieve FSC certification.

That is, two years before PEFC was invented and several years before FSC established an office in Australia and New Zealand! In 2007, he was instrumental in adopting DNA tracking technology to demonstrate that timber was legal – to prove the tropical hardwood Merbau could be sustainably harvested from Indonesia.

According to Kevin Hill, founder of Double Helix Tracking Technologies, “Graeme was instrumental in getting genetic-based timber traceability off the ground.” Mr Black also spent 16 years building up Lignor. a new and patented timber stranding technology developing one of the world’s strongest portfolios of engineered wood products (EWP) from sustainable and certified eucalyptus hardwood.

For more information about the history of the Black Family and Graeme Black’s involvement and impact on the timber industry, visit the “ Lignor website.

The Lignor team advised that after Mr Black’s passing, the management team would be changing. In a media release, they said, “he will always be remembered as the heart of the business.” They said, “He brought to the team a vast experience in business and a pioneering spirit that inspired us all every day,” before continuing that “Graeme will be greatly missed by colleagues, friends and loved ones.”

Source: Wood Central, Lignor

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Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning in Forest Conservation

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

3D laser scanning is a cutting-edge technology that has revolutionised how we capture and visualise the world. By using laser beams to measure the distances and shapes of objects, structures, and landscapes, it creates exact, three-dimensional representations. 

This non-invasive technique excels in capturing intricate details, making it indispensable in fields like architecture, construction, archaeology, and environmental conservation. Its applications range from creating intricate digital replicas of historical artifacts to mapping forests, aiding in preserving natural ecosystems. 

3D scanning in forest conservation can solve a lot of problems. For instance, with 3D laser scanning services, engineers can navigate through dense vegetation and uneven terrain. It is a time-effective way to get through thick canopies while offering a panoramic view of the area for the best data insights. 

How 3D laser scanning would help in forest conservation? 

In forest conservation, 3D laser scanning has emerged as a powerful tool for understanding, protecting, and managing critical ecosystems. In this technique, a laser scanner emits laser beams that bounce off environmental surfaces and return to the scanner. 

By precisely measuring the time it takes for the laser pulses to return, the scanner calculates the distance to the objects and creates a point cloud. Point Cloud is a collection of data points that form an accurate 3D representation of the forest. 

These point clouds are so detailed that they can capture the shape and structure of trees, understory vegetation, and the forest floor with exceptional precision.

Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning 

Forest conservation is becoming increasingly complex due to deforestation, forest fires, illegal poaching and logging activities. It is essential for forest authorities to keep an eye out for such issues, and 3D laser scanning can help capture critical data points necessary for forest conservation. 

Some of the advantages of 3D laser scanning, as opposed to the more traditional scanning methods, are discussed below: 

Effective Forest Mapping

Forest mapping refers to gauging the terrain and topography of the forest land. The more traditional survey methods usually take days to cover the expansive forest. The thick vegetation and uneven terrain pose further obstacles in the process. This gives environmentalists and engineers a hard time capturing and mapping the forest accurately. 

3D laser scanning is a game changer in understanding and managing forests. With the data points and point clouds collected from 3D scanning, engineers can quickly identify the forest topography, land elevations, tree density, etc. 

3D scanning is vital for land planners, researchers, and engineers to understand the forest terrain and plan sustainable forest management. It contributes to biodiversity conservation, assessing the impact of climate change, identifying potential hazards and more. 

Identifying Deforestation Sites

Deforestation is a significant problem that can lead to sudden climate change, increase in temperature and loss of flora and fauna. Illegal logging can also cause accidents landslides, and destroy the terrain. 

3D laser scanning helps identify such deforestation sites. This early detection is instrumental in preventing further deforestation, preserving biodiversity, and maintaining the vital carbon sequestration function of forests. 3D laser scanning empowers conservationists and authorities to take timely action in safeguarding these precious ecosystems, making it an indispensable tool in the fight against deforestation.

Monitoring Biodiversity

Biodiversity management is another crucial aspect of forest conservation that 3D scanning can help with. With 3D laser scanners, authorities can scan thick vegetation to identify various plant and animal species. It can enable watching endangered birds, insects and other exotic creatures. 

The best thing about 3D laser scanning is that it is non-invasive and requires minimal manual intervention. Environmentalists and researchers can further use these data points and 3D images to check the health and longevity of species. 

Detecting Potential Forest Fires

One of the most significant risks in forest conservation is detecting hazards such as forest fires and landslides. These hazards can damage acres of land and destroy various plants and animal species. 

3D laser scanning helps to identify such potential threats and resolve them before any damage occurs. In this method, engineers can scan and replicate the forest floor into detailed 3D images. Digital rendering and scanning then give insights into land elevation, soil quality, terrain, vegetation, etc. 

Researchers can compare 3D laser scans done over some time to assess any potential threats, tree decay, unstable slopes, etc. 3D scanning also assists in modelling fire behaviour and predicting the paths it can spread to. With these insights, conservationists can easily prevent these hazards and mitigate the risks. 

Monitoring Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and preventing it from being released into the air. This process reduces the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and helps mitigate the risks of climate change. 

Here are some ways in which 3D laser scanning helps monitor carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and reduce greenhouse gases. 

Forest Mapping and Biomass Estimation: 3D laser scanning provides detailed forest maps that capture the size of the terrain, vegetation, density of trees, etc. This data helps environmentalists estimate the carbon content of forests and calculate the forest biomass. 

Carbon Monitoring: Regular 3D scanning of the same forest floor helps researchers monitor any changes in the carbon levels and overall health of the forest. It helps track the effectiveness of carbon sequestration methods and highlight areas needing restoration. 

Climate Change Mitigation: Comparing and analysing carbon levels and biomass in the forest helps researchers understand the effects of climate change. 3D laser scans and heat maps also help in tracking the forest temperature and ensuring that it doesn’t reach dangerous levels. 

3D Laser Scanning Services by Avian

AEC industries in Australia are now depending on drone and 3D laser scanning services to scan and capture sites. 3D scanning is an affordable and quick way to check acres of land without having to spend a lot of time. 

Get in touch with Avian today to book your first free consultation! We have a team of land surveyors and AEC professionals to help you with all your scanning and surveying needs. 

Author Bio of Chris Patchell

Source: Avian

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The world’s largest biomass energy company near collapse

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

This year has been a financial disaster for Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets for the biomass energy industry. With more than $250 million in losses to date and worsening results expected in the fourth quarter, the once high-flying company’s viability, by its own admission, is in grave doubt.

Also in question is where Enviva’s European Union and Asian customers will source the pellets they burn in their converted coal power plants and — without those pellets — how nations will meet their energy needs and their pledged Paris Agreement carbon emission cuts.

To many financial analysts who closely follow company performance, Enviva’s near collapse this month appears to have happened rapidly and suddenly. But did it?

The problems have been there for years. There are lots of issues, but they stem from fundamental challenges Enviva faces in wood costs and keeping its manufacturing plants operating at full capacity,” a former Enviva maintenance manager told Mongabay. “It’s all coming home to roost in a kind of cumulative way.”

In exclusive interviews with Mongabay, the former Enviva employee detailed critical problems he witnessed and grappled with as a top operations manager at two of Enviva’s 10 Southeast U.S. plants between mid-2020 and mid-2022. His insights help explain why Enviva is now in dire financial straits.

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Source: Mongabay

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A message of remembrance for John Pizzey

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

On behalf of Helen, John’s wife, and the family, it is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of our esteemed Managing Director & Owner, John Pizzey, on Thursday, 26 October. His journey came to a peaceful end, following a brief yet courageous battle with multiple cancers.

John was so much more than a leader; he was the heart and soul of Porta. His vision, dedication, and a remarkable 47-year journey with us have left an indelible imprint on every individual he touched. Under his guidance, Porta navigated through myriad economic challenges and periods of growth. From its humble beginnings with simple timber mouldings at the back of a hardware store, John elevated Porta to its renowned position today as a leader in indoor timber.

John’s passion extended beyond timber. He had a genuine love for the people he collaborated with, whether they were on the factory floor or industry associates. Every interaction at Porta mattered deeply to John. His virtues of patience and selflessness resonated in every conversation, every gesture.

One of his treasured routines was ‘walking the floor.’ Those moments, being amongst Porta’s team, witnessing their dedication, and acknowledging their efforts, were the highlights of his day. He took immense pride in seeing the collective effort that went into producing the quality timber products Porta is famous for. To John, each member of the Porta family was invaluable, and he deeply appreciated the skill and determination the team members brought to their roles every day.

Porta remains steadfast as a family business, even in the face of such profound loss. During his illness, John remained proud of Porta’s leadership team and their dedication to helping people ‘know and love timber.’ We thank you all for the unwavering support you’ve shown John over the years and are deeply touched by the outpouring of blessings and kind words since his departure. We offer our deepest condolences to all who had the privilege of knowing this exceptional individual. May his legacy continue to inspire and guide us in the many years ahead.

Claire Greenwood Director – Porta On behalf of Helen Pizzey, Olivia Sanderson & Tom Pizzey

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Technical Forest Services celebrates its 21st Anniversary

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Technical Forest Services P/L (TFS) recently marked its 21st anniversary, commemorating the milestone since its establishment on July 1, 2002.

In celebration, the entire TFS family convened in Launceston, with team members converging from across the eastern seaboard of Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

Approximately forty staff members from various regions engaged in activities fostering mutual understanding and collaboration, working collectively to strategize for the company’s future. This significant gathering provided a platform for valuable discussions encompassing team building, training, safety protocols, organizational culture, vision, and values.

The event benefited from the participation of two major clients, Forico and Timberlands, who graciously shared insights with the TFS staff. Special gratitude was extended to the University of Tasmania (UTAS) for hosting a classroom session in their impressive new facility.

Participants had the opportunity to tour and witness exemplary applications of timber products, rekindling appreciation for the remarkable facets of the industry. The celebratory evening reached its pinnacle with a delightful gathering, hosted by a local Launceston brewery, providing a convivial atmosphere complemented by meals and beverages.

For those familiar with the company, TFS is known for its unwavering focus on the team, the tasks entrusted by clients, and the future trajectory of the business.

Reflecting on the support received, Managing Director Clive Woolridge expressed gratitude for the overwhelming commitment and dedication demonstrated by the diverse team throughout the week. He acknowledged the invaluable contributions of clients, staff, family, friends, suppliers, and supporters over the past 21 years, emphasizing that TFS would not have evolved into its current form without their collective contributions.

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Some mass plantings could harm the environment

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

New studies raise issues that complicate the ambitious goals to use mass tree-planting to fight climate change. The researchers warn that in some cases, carbon-offset tree plantations could reduce biodiversity, doing more harm than good for the environment.

Trees take in CO2 and store it in their woody mass and the soil, making them a natural solution for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Globally, it is estimated that forests absorb enough CO2 each year to make up for one-and-a-half times the greenhouse gases that the United States emits annually.

That kind of carbon drawdown capacity motivated large-scale tree planting efforts such as the global Trillion Tree campaign, launched in 2006. Sophisticated carbon credit markets have also been developed, which allow polluting companies to pay for tree planting in order to offset their emissions.

But trees that die, burn or are cut can release that CO2 back into the atmosphere, and trees planted in large stands of only a few species do not function the way that naturally diverse forest ecosystems do.

A study of tree planting in the tropics published in the monthly journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, argues that these carbon-offset plantations can come at the expense of biodiversity and other important services that forests provide. The study’s authors also warn that an emphasis on carbon reduction alone can lead to poor environmental decisions.

“It is crucial to shift from the narrow focus on carbon and adopt a more holistic perspective if we aim to effectively conserve and restore natural ecosystems and combat climate change,” the study’s lead author, Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez, an ecologist and senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, told Newsweek via email.

The scale of tree planting necessary to offset global greenhouse gas emissions would require vast areas of land, the authors write, often leading tree planters to displace other ecosystems. Afforestation, or planting trees in places they didn’t previously grow, can replace tropical grasslands that also provide carbon sequestration and other important services, such as regulating water flow and enriching soil, the authors contend.

Grasslands support biodiversity as well, and many species adapted for those environments suffer when grass is replaced by trees. For example, in Brazil’s Cerrado savannah, increasing tree cover by 40 percent reduced the diversity of plants and ants by about 30 percent. “Planting trees is great as far as they are planted in areas where they belong,” Aguirre-Gutiérrez said.

Photo: American Forests

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Source: newsweek

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New Forests to sell NZ assets

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Global nature-based real assets manager New Forests is selling four of its New Zealand forestry assets.

The four estates, located across New Zealand’s North and South Islands, are being sold as the fund manager completes the term of the second round Australia and New Zealand Forestry fund (ANZFF2).

The four estates are located across New Zealand’s North and South Islands in established forestry regions of Blenheim, Southland, Taupo and Wairarapa and have a combined gross area of almost 16,000 hectares. All the estates apart from Taupo, are freehold, New Forests noted.

New Forests has engaged UBS New Zealand Limited as financial adviser to assist with the potential sale process. The forestry assets also present future carbon market opportunities with around one quarter of the plantations established on post 1989 land which is registered in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). All four forestry assets have been third-party certified for sustainable forest management.

Last month, New Forests sold a Tasmanian forestry estate to UniSuper and a consortium of European pension funds. UniSuper, the UK’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF), and APG Asset Management N.V (APG) on behalf of its Dutch pension fund client ABP have bought Forico and a 170,000-hectare plantation forestry estate in Tasmania. Under the agreement, the three investors will each own 33% of Forico and the forestry estate. New Forests will be retained to provide investment management services.

Forico is Tasmania’s largest private forest management company and the estate itself is one of Australia’s largest plantation hardwood estates by productive area. It consists of vertically integrated assets and operations spanning approximately 90,000 hectares of productive plantation forest. It also owns key infrastructure along the supply chain consisting of two wood processing mills, a seedling nursery, fibre technology laboratory, and port access via a freehold facility at Long Reach, Tasmania.

Source: fssustainability

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Australia´s first eFuels plant announced

In Wood Residues by innovatek

HIF Tasmania eFuels facility is expected to start producing up to 100 million liters of carbon neutral eFuels per year in 2028

HIF Global, the world’s leading eFuels company, on Wednesday announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Forico, Tasmania’s largest private forestry manager, to support development of Australia’s first eFuels production facility.

The collaboration anticipates utilisation of a site at Forico’s Surrey Hills plantation 30 km south of Burnie, supply of biomass and water, and potential investment in the project. HIF Tasmania eFuels facility is expected to produce up to 100 million litres of eGasoline by 2028 and recycle around 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from plantation biomass, equivalent to decarbonising 60,000 vehicles every year.

HIF Global and Forico also executed a biomass supply agreement and will now work towards finalising a contract for supply of residue biomass from its sustainably certified hardwood plantations in Tasmania, which will be needed for HIF’s eFuel production process. Engineering work by the HIF team and its engineering partner Technip Energies is progressing well with construction start scheduled for 2025.

Ignacio Hernandez, HIF Asia Pacific’s CEO, said: “Our agreement with Forico secures an ideal location to construct the HIF Tasmania eFuels facility and identifies the sourcing strategy for our biomass. We look forward to working with Forico to put Australia at the forefront of the global effort to reduce emissions from the transport sector. We have initiated engineering design and are now closer to creating approximately 200 permanent jobs in Tasmania’s north west. eFuels production from our facility at Haru Oni, Chile demonstrates that eFuels are available now as a direct replacement to fossil fuel, decarbonising existing cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft”.

Evangelista Albertini, CEO of Forico, said: “We have been working closely with the HIF team to help develop this innovative facility. An eFuel plant is perfectly suited to make best use of Tasmania’s abundant renewable energy and sustainably sourced biomass from our Forestry Stewardship Council certified estate. Having visited HIF’s impressive operating plant in Chile, we are convinced that eFuels will play a vital role in the fight against climate change by decarbonising the world’s existing vehicle fleet”.

“Forico is particularly motivated by the opportunity to use biomass residues from our plantation forestry operations in the production of eFuel, a highly innovative solution that further underlines the importance of plantation forestry as an important contributor to managing climate change.”

Forico’s Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Jacobs added: “Forico is particularly motivated by the opportunity to productively use biomass residues from our operations, reducing replant costs, the need for burning and making use of an under-utilised resource in the production of eFuel, a highly innovative resource for the future.”

Cesar Norton, HIF Global’s President and CEO, said: “Australia has enormous potential to be a key player in meeting the huge worldwide demand for eFuels and this is another big stride towards realising that potential. It is also another step forward on HIF’s path to delivering 150,000 barrels per day of eFuels from a global portfolio of facilities in the next decade.”

Photo: (L-R) Evangelista Albertini, CEO of Forico and Ignacio Hernandez, CEO of HIF Asia Pacific

Source: Forico

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Australia´s first eFuels plant announced

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

HIF Tasmania eFuels facility is expected to start producing up to 100 million liters of carbon neutral eFuels per year in 2028

HIF Global, the world’s leading eFuels company, on Wednesday announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Forico, Tasmania’s largest private forestry manager, to support development of Australia’s first eFuels production facility.

The collaboration anticipates utilisation of a site at Forico’s Surrey Hills plantation 30 km south of Burnie, supply of biomass and water, and potential investment in the project. HIF Tasmania eFuels facility is expected to produce up to 100 million litres of eGasoline by 2028 and recycle around 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from plantation biomass, equivalent to decarbonising 60,000 vehicles every year.

HIF Global and Forico also executed a biomass supply agreement and will now work towards finalising a contract for supply of residue biomass from its sustainably certified hardwood plantations in Tasmania, which will be needed for HIF’s eFuel production process. Engineering work by the HIF team and its engineering partner Technip Energies is progressing well with construction start scheduled for 2025.

Ignacio Hernandez, HIF Asia Pacific’s CEO, said: “Our agreement with Forico secures an ideal location to construct the HIF Tasmania eFuels facility and identifies the sourcing strategy for our biomass. We look forward to working with Forico to put Australia at the forefront of the global effort to reduce emissions from the transport sector. We have initiated engineering design and are now closer to creating approximately 200 permanent jobs in Tasmania’s north west. eFuels production from our facility at Haru Oni, Chile demonstrates that eFuels are available now as a direct replacement to fossil fuel, decarbonising existing cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft”.

Evangelista Albertini, CEO of Forico, said: “We have been working closely with the HIF team to help develop this innovative facility. An eFuel plant is perfectly suited to make best use of Tasmania’s abundant renewable energy and sustainably sourced biomass from our Forestry Stewardship Council certified estate. Having visited HIF’s impressive operating plant in Chile, we are convinced that eFuels will play a vital role in the fight against climate change by decarbonising the world’s existing vehicle fleet”.

“Forico is particularly motivated by the opportunity to use biomass residues from our plantation forestry operations in the production of eFuel, a highly innovative solution that further underlines the importance of plantation forestry as an important contributor to managing climate change.”

Forico’s Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Jacobs added: “Forico is particularly motivated by the opportunity to productively use biomass residues from our operations, reducing replant costs, the need for burning and making use of an under-utilised resource in the production of eFuel, a highly innovative resource for the future.”

Cesar Norton, HIF Global’s President and CEO, said: “Australia has enormous potential to be a key player in meeting the huge worldwide demand for eFuels and this is another big stride towards realising that potential. It is also another step forward on HIF’s path to delivering 150,000 barrels per day of eFuels from a global portfolio of facilities in the next decade.”

Photo: (L-R) Evangelista Albertini, CEO of Forico and Ignacio Hernandez, CEO of HIF Asia Pacific

Source: Forico

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NZ log export prices firm in November

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Prices for NZ log exports are slowly improving, but a forestry consultant says the sector must find new international markets to reduce its reliance on China. Export prices have firmed this month, with sales to New Zealand’s largest customer, China, picking up – despite its post-Covid construction slowdown.

November prices rose $9 on October, approaching NZ$110 per Japanese Agricultural Standard metre-squared at the wharf gate of South Island ports, and $5-10 more for North Island exporters. Sales are solid for log exporters. New Zealand exports to China have been dropping. Log, wood and wood article exports made up NZ$4.8 billion of New Zealand’s total NZ$46b of goods bound for the country in the year to September.

Allan Laurie of forestry consultancy and managment firm Laurie Forestry said it was vital forestry companies tried to seek new markets. “China continues to be 80 percent of what we do into export markets and that’s a challenge, of course, and one that the New Zealand forestry sector has to consider,” Laurie said.

But he said money-tight forestry companies would struggle to fund in-market research and trips abroad to find new customers globally. “It’s really time for New Zealand forestry Inc to get out into the world and start to look at other markets and improve our sales opportunities internationally, looking to non-traditional markets even where we know radiata pine stands very, very well against many other species.”

Laurie wanted to see larger tariffs and increased levy fees so companies could partner with government officials to develop those new markets. He said the South Korean market was “probably in even worse shape than China right now” – but India was standing out as having good opportunities for New Zealand radiata pine exporters – at prices close to Chinese values.

“India has not been a great market for New Zealand over the last couple of years with countries like Uruguay shipping in cheaper fibre. But there is some pressure on exporters at the moment to look back to India as an opportunity and my understanding is there’s a vessel heading up there this month for the first time in some time.”

Diversification was key for the sector as most of the country’s sawmills relied on exports, but there was more timber being produced than being consumed, he said.

Recently, Japanese-owned Juken New Zealand announced 80 staff would lose their jobs once the Gisborne Mill shuts down due to ongoing financial difficulties and weak demand for its Japanese housing wood products. Laurie said intense competition between New Zealand’s export sawmills influenced the unfortunate closure.

“Yes, that it is a shame. It is a reflection of a sawmilling capacity in New Zealand which in a standard month is in excess of demand so then you see challenges around pricing. Sawmills tend to compete with each other very rigorously so it’s a challenging time for sawmills, their margins are down.”

Sawmill owners were taking on big losses in their export lumber sales – with markets across Southeast Asia being inundated with supply amid weak pricing, he said.

Source: RNZ

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Log & lumber markets may be worse than you think

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Russ Taylor, Russ Taylor Global

My personal view is that the real situation is probably worse that what is being reported. European demand will be about 11% lower in 2023 vs. 2022 and lower again in 2024. China’s consumption levels are completely stalled from a construction market in chaos. Consequently, it is going to take until sometime next year for a recovery to occur.

Overall consumer sentiment in China is at a 12-month low as there continue to be lingering concerns over the future of the Chinese construction market. This has been not only a key driver of the economy (up to 24% of GDP but now closer to 19%), but a key driver in the wealth of Chinese citizens. With the construction industry awash in massive debts and no clear path ahead, this is having a negative impact on end users’ demand for imported logs and low-grade lumber for use in construction.

Inventories of logs and lumber at ocean ports and distribution yards are very low in China, especially when compared to previous years. Some Scandinavian and Russian lumber exporters thought that October was a good time to raise lumber prices in China and appearance grade quotes were increased from US$220/m3 to US$260/m3. These high prices were not at all tied to demand, although the furniture and decoration markets were at least stable.

The low inventories simply reflect a general lack of business and limited interest in hold inventories! Consequently, by early November, prices had settled back to US$230/m3. The higher priced lumber purchased by some of the smaller operations may squeeze some manufacturers as they cannot raise prices to their customers, but perhaps the squeeze will not be enough to force any significant curtailments in the short term.

The plight of the low-grade W-SPF (and Hem-Fir) lumber importers in China is one that I heard often during my travels. W-SPF #3 lumber prices reached a high of US$280/m3, CIF China, in April 2022 (right after Chinese New Year). After that, prices consistently moved lower month-over-month and one year later were US$160/m3, where they have remained. This constant price decline has meant huge losses for W-SPF importers and distributors in China and is a symptom of the declining construction and concrete forming business.

Of course, Chinese importers would welcome increased lumber prices if they were sustainable. However, most importers in China are worried about what happens after Chinese New Year in 2024. They remember very clearly what happened in 2023, as everyone thought there would be rising demand and higher prices after the COVID lockdowns were removed. The opposite occurred, and many overbought high-priced lumber in all grades in first quarter 2023 and have been licking their wounds ever since.

Inventories of logs and lumber are clearly well below historical levels. However, they are low because of weak demand and the prospects of little upside going forward, especially for use in the construction segment. Appearance lumber for use in furniture and decoration is probably the exception, but demand is not increasing, it is only holding.

If there are more shocks to consumer confidence, then all bets are off for any increases in imported logs or lumber or prices until well after Chinese New Year in 2024. Many buyers are carefully watching their purchases and are planning to conservatively manage their inventories so they are prepared for any potential market slump after Chinese New Year. Of course, if their bet is wrong and demand picks up, the ultra-low inventories in China would mean that exporters could raise their prices to take advantage of the importers’ need to buy.

In a sense, this could be a win-win, but only if it is sustainable and not a three-month hiccup.This all means that lumber exporters to China should be also careful on their shipment volumes, as their future business in China could be negatively impacted if prices decline from weaker demand and/or there are excessive inventories after Chinese New Year.

Longer term, the story is going to be much different, as some shortages are forecast, according to our upcoming report. Russ Taylor Global (Canada) and Margules Groome (New Zealand & Australia) have teamed up to present a strategic analysis and outlook of China’s plantations, and log and lumber supply/demand/prices.

Source: Russ Taylor Global

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The world’s largest biomass energy company near collapse

In Wood Residues by innovatek

This year has been a financial disaster for Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets for the biomass energy industry. With more than $250 million in losses to date and worsening results expected in the fourth quarter, the once high-flying company’s viability, by its own admission, is in grave doubt.

Also in question is where Enviva’s European Union and Asian customers will source the pellets they burn in their converted coal power plants and — without those pellets — how nations will meet their energy needs and their pledged Paris Agreement carbon emission cuts.

To many financial analysts who closely follow company performance, Enviva’s near collapse this month appears to have happened rapidly and suddenly. But did it?

The problems have been there for years. There are lots of issues, but they stem from fundamental challenges Enviva faces in wood costs and keeping its manufacturing plants operating at full capacity,” a former Enviva maintenance manager told Mongabay. “It’s all coming home to roost in a kind of cumulative way.”

In exclusive interviews with Mongabay, the former Enviva employee detailed critical problems he witnessed and grappled with as a top operations manager at two of Enviva’s 10 Southeast U.S. plants between mid-2020 and mid-2022. His insights help explain why Enviva is now in dire financial straits.

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Source: Mongabay

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Drone lifts tree! A groundbreaking milestone in forestry

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

AirForestry, renowned for its pioneering work with drone technology for harvesting trees, has recently showcased that its drone can attach to a tree top and lift a tree trunk. 

“We’re quite literally elevating the future of forestry,” said Dr Mauritz Andersson, CTO and Cofounder of AirForestry. “Harvesting trees from above using drones was once thought impossible. Today, we’re turning that vision into reality, demonstrating not just the technological feasibility but also the environmental advantages of our approach.”

The innovative system, encompassing a 6-meter heavy-duty drone, a unique harvesting tool, A.I.-based automation, and a control station, represents a significant leap from traditional logging practices. As demonstrated in the attached video, the drone first navigates to a thinning site, precisely identifies a tree using computer vision, and subsequently employs the harvesting tool to grip the tree’s top.

Utilizing gravity, the tool descends the tree, defoliating branches and leaving them as natural forest nourishment. The culmination of the process sees the harvesting tool cutting the tree trunk with an electric chainsaw, then the drone flies the tree trunk to a designated collection point by the roadside.

“Our solution is not only about big drones. It’s about sustainability, efficiency, and ensuring minimal impact on our precious forests,” Dr Andersson continued. “Being fully electric, our drones leverage high-performance batteries and on-the-go charging stations. The tool’s lightweight design, paired with the drone’s impressive 200-kilogram payload capacity, ensures an efficient and eco-friendly harvest cycle.”

The company’s journey, from founding and the first prototype in the summer of 2020, to the full size drone’s inaugural flight last summer, through the rigors of a Swedish winter at temperatures plummeting to -20°C, has been filled with noteworthy milestones. Each of these steps has been critical to the company’s current triumph: a drone that can lift trees and transport it to the nearest road without inflicting damage on the forest floor.

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Source: Cision News

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Developing world’s first hydrogen vertical lift off plane

In Wood Transport by innovatek

A Sydney-based aerospace company founded by a husband and wife designer team has received AU$5.43 million to develop a world-first hydrogen vertical take-off and landing aircraft that could be used in regional Australia for emergency services, freight and transport.

The Bankstown-based AMSL Aero was founded in 2017 by aeronautical engineer Andrew Moore and Siobhan Lyndon and has the backing of some major financiers, including IP Group Australia, Telstra Super, Host Plus and the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund.

It has already developed a battery electric e-VTOL aircraft called Vertiia, but Moore says this is limited in range to “urban mobility”, and hydrogen fuel cell technology is needed to cover the vast distances of regional Australia.

“If you want to fly for 20 minutes, then battery electric craft are probably ok,” Moore tells RenewEconomy. “But if you want to have people on board, you have to have an energy reserve, and that makes it really hard. Batteries don’t have the energy density.”

Moore says hydrogen and fuel cell technologies will boost the range of the Vertiia electric aircraft from around 250 kms to 1,000 kms, and make it suitable for air ambulance and other emergency services. It will be able to carry five people.

He says battery electric VTOL aircraft will be useful for “urban mobility”, ferrying people or goods for tens of kilometres – once the technology gets approval to operate in these environments.

Hydrogen aircraft, Moore says, will be able to serve both urban and regional areas. And he imagines a day – not so far away – where they become a central part of transport to the regions. “You won’t spend an hour in the taxi getting to the airport, and then waiting there for another hour. You will just hop in the aircraft in town and go.”

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Source: reneweconomy

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Autonomous trucks cutting a path in forestry sector

In Wood Transport by innovatek

In an untamed Quebec forest, a Canada lynx watches curiously from the bush as a platoon of Mack Granite logging trucks, one of them operated autonomously, passes by on a remote logging road. Meanwhile in Maryland, engineers from Robotic Research Autonomous Industries (RRAI) watch the lynx on screens set up to monitor the performance of the autonomous truck platoons serving a Resolute Forest Products facility.

This is the rugged Canadian wilderness, where forestry trucks encounter some of the toughest conditions imaginable. And this, according to Robotic Research, is the perfect environment for the near-term automation of commercial trucking.

Gabe Sganga is head of commercial growth for RRAI. The company got its start in automation more than 20 years ago, before anyone in the commercial trucking sector was even thinking about automating heavy trucks. Robotic’s origins involved working with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop automated military vehicles. In recent years, the company realized its AutoDrive self-driving platform had commercial potential as well.

“The leadership team at the company looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve built an end-to-end technology stack that’s really focused on off-road. What are some commercial uses for this technology?’ And one of the greatest commercial use cases that we found was forestry, in areas where you have a lack of human resources or where they’re incredibly remote and it’s just hard to get people to do the jobs,” Sganga said.

While much of the focus on the automation of trucking has focused on the middle mile, RRAI felt the greatest potential for early success would be off-road.

Carving a path off-road

“From a regulatory perspective, that’s a pretty scary place to be for the next few years,” Sganga said of middle-mile applications. “We really want to focus on places where autonomy can make a difference in the immediate term.”

Meanwhile, FPInnovations, a Quebec-based research body focused on the forestry sector, was working with members to address challenges including the lack of professional log haulers. It connected with RRAI to embark on a project that would test autonomous truck platoons on off-highway logging routes to get logs from the forest to the mill safely and efficiently.

“Our mission is to help the industry be more competitive and to help the transformation of the industry as well,” Stephane Renou, president and CEO of FPInnovations, said of the work. “This project actually fulfilled both goals.”

Up to 40% of the cost of wood can be traced to transport costs, he pointed out. And forestry companies are struggling to find drivers to haul product in remote areas on rough roads. “It has become a bottleneck to be able to transport that biomass from the north to the south and to the mills efficiently.”

Renou said FPInnovations initially felt going straight to full autonomy was “a step too far.” But he added, “When we start looking at those concepts of platooning, basically getting another truck to follow the lead truck, then it becomes interesting.”

Perfect for platooning

The lead truck in a platoon is piloted by a human driver who establishes a breadcrumb trail, so to speak, for the subsequent trucks to follow, even where there are no paved roads. The following units (one in the initial tests, but more are possible) are equipped with lidar and other technologies allowing them to follow the lead truck without a human driver. FPInnovations and RRAI successfully concluded benchmark testing in July and continue to operate the AutoDrive-equipped Mack Granite platoons today.

But Robotic Research didn’t choose to start out in an off-road environment because it would be easy. “We think the harder challenge is operating in the really multidimensional, undefined spaces where there are no paved roads, and in some cases, there aren’t even roads,” Sganga said. “If you can do that well and operate in the Canadian wilderness, and you can operate in the Permian Basin of Texas where temperatures can approach 49 C in the summer, then you can do just about anything.”

The temperatures, of course, are quite different in Northern Quebec, and so too are the road conditions. But Sganga said the company must be able to handle all weather and road conditions. “If a vehicle that’s manually operated can handle the weather, then we have to be able to do the same,” Sganga said. “So far AutoDrive has done a fantastic job. From a perception and path planning perspective, we’re doing fantastic.”

Another challenge encountered in forestry that wouldn’t be an issue in paved cities is the roads themselves are constantly evolving. The forestry roads are recreated every couple of years, and can even experience changes day to day based on the traffic they encounter.

Photo: RRAI

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Source: trucknews

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November 2023 NZ log market update

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

Rugby world cup aside, there’s a bit of good news starting to stir some fizziness amongst us tree huggers and, while not at shaken beer can levels, it is enough to improve the fettle and shelve the navel gazing for a while. This has come in the form of an increase in export log prices which has seen November offerings in the $123-125/m3 range for A grade, up around $10/m3 on October and $30/m3 on June.

A few years ago, this price level wouldn’t have been anything to get excited about but after the lows of the past 6 months, it’s a welcome relief. There’s a bit of caution in this however as the increase is not specifically demand driven and is due as much to lower shipping costs and Forex (which has since bounced) as actual sales price increases.

Real demand hasn’t really changed in terms of volume, and offtake from Chinese ports is still sitting around the 60Km3 per day. NZ supply has decreased with the lower prices and unfortunately this supply reduction is courtesy of logging contractors being slowed down, parked up or at worst going to the wall. This current Chinese demand level isn’t likely to lift, especially with the well documented housing oversupply and litany of other economic woes that are starting to surface. It is thought that previously, construction accounted for around 70% of the softwood demand in China, however this is more likely now reduced to around 40%. Quick Marlboro packet numbers would tell you that demand for construction-based logs has dropped 60% from pre covid times. Luckily our radiata is a very universal product and is used for a multitude of end uses.

Reduced global log supply has also helped the China supply and demand balance with logs from Europe and Russia dropping significantly in recent months. European harvesting has receded back to normal levels as bark beetle infestation has reduced resulting in less requirement for log exports while the Russians are facing weather related issues with their seasonal harvest. Chinese log inventory is sitting at around 2.7 million m3 which is the lowest point in years and not unexpected given the reduced overall demand.

Efforts by the CCP to inject some stimulus into the Chinese economy have seen some traditionally unconventional measures with the issuance of a $US137 billion sovereign debt plan which will take the budget deficit ratio to 3.8% of GDP, well in excess of the 3.0% target set in March this year. While this isn’t at Grant Robertson levels yet, there is clearly a strong desire within the government to bring some confidence to the economy with stronger fiscal policy. This likely won’t do much to help the construction sector as the government has realized that it has become too big to kick down the road. Much of the stimulus has been targeted at fast growing, advanced manufacturing including electric cars and semiconductors – not much wood in those.

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The world has looked to China as the global economic powerhouse for decades, but it appears that India is now emerging as credible player. While India lags behind China with a $US3.5 trillion economy compared to China’s $US15 trillion, early signs are showing foreign investment pulling out of China at rapid pace and reinvesting in India. China’s official growth target of 5% will be surpassed by India in 2023 with the IMF projecting a growth rate in the world’s most populated country of 6.3%. India is embarking on a large-scale infrastructure build with around 50,000km of new roads built in the 8 years between 2014 and 2022.

Unfortunately, NZ has been locked out of the Indian log market for a number of years as the EPA put ideology ahead of common sense with the effective banning (through unachievable recapture targets) of the use of the only India approved fumigant, Methyl Bromide in 2022. The recent concession by India to allow fumigation at port has seen the first vessel from NZ head to India in a few years. Understandably, we are watching this with anticipation as it’s always risky to be the first to send $NZ7 million worth of cargo across the globe to test a new process, however, all going well this will relieve some supply pressure from China.

After a rally in August, the NZU price has very slowly been heading in the positive direction with current spot fixtures around $70/NZU. This is good news if you’re in the ETS as that price level represents an annual return of around $2,100/ha. Spear a thought for the ETS administrators around the country who are not so fizzy with the continued failure of MPI’s newly built online ETS administration system, Tupu-ake.

MPI kicked off this online disaster earlier this year, right at the end of a mandatory reporting period, causing massive frustration and cost for all who have the displeasure of having to use it. This system has been plagued with problems (which makes Novapay look like a dream) and MPI officials continue to keep their heads in the sand about its efficacy. In Māori, Tupu-ake means ‘grow up’, it might be time to rename the system ‘Korenga’ meaning ‘failure’, or better still, simply bin it and go back to the old system.

In summary, we’re heading into the end of the year in better shape than many expected. There’s talk of a number of larger forest companies taking a month out over Christmas and the windthrow salvage in Taupo, which has been running at around 15,000 tonnes per day, will start to slow leading to a lower supply and inventory position in Q1 2024. The chances of a strong China led rebound are about as likely as David Seymour becoming a socialist, but if we can keep a lid on supply levels, we should see some price stability over the summer months. However, like the Winston factor, you never know what will come from left field….

More >>

Source: Forest360

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Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 dates announced

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Last year, well over 250 forestry and log transport delegates from companies across Australasia, North and South America and Europe met up in Rotorua, New Zealand. The occasion? The long overdue Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 conference, workshops and exhibitions.

With so much effort going into larger transport companies decarbonising their fleets and innovation and early adoption of electric, hydrogen and dual-fuel hybrid technologies by log transport operators in this part of the world, the Rotorua venue, inside and outside ( view details and images from this year’s event) was packed. The place was humming.

Feedback from speakers, delegates and exhibitors from the 2023 event overwhelmingly were looking for another technology update in 2024. The drivers? The sheer pace of change with new and emerging technologies, the operational and commercial trials underway by local heavy transport fleets and the rapid deployment of this technology into forests and wood cartage operations.

Planned format for 2024

All delegates from the 2023 event were looking for the industry to get-together again – one year on – to learn more about the commercial and operational trials – on and offroad – by heavy transport fleets using a raft of these new alternative fuels.

And, we’re delivering. Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 is planned to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. It will again be providing that independent platform for forestry companies, log harvesting operations and those involved in log transport to get together.

An initial draft programme for the two-day event can be viewed here.

Registrations to the event are now live. Click here.

For those equipment and technology suppliers looking to get in front of this part of the industry, both inside and outside exhibition spaces are still available. Further information and bookings can be made directly with gordon.thomson@fiea.org.nz

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Prue Younger retiring as FICA CEO

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

After six years at the helm, Forest Industry Contractors Association CEO Prue Younger will retire from her role on 31 March 2024.

During her time as FICA’s CEO, Prue has led the organisation through both prosperous and challenging periods for forestry contractors, including the pandemic and significant log market downturns, as well as some highlights like the 2022 FICA Fast and Forward Forestry Expo bringing together various parts of the industry with forestry front and centre.

FICA Chair Nick Tombleson says Prue has done a great job at the helm. “Over the past six years Prue has done extensive work developing FICA as an organisation, including raising the profile of FICA within the industry and getting contractors a ‘seat at the table’ on issues that affect them,” says Nick.

“Prue has been the key driver on some really important industry projects like the Yarder Tower Inspector Programme refresh, the Hauler Guarding TAG, the Immigration Class Exception for Forestry Work and more recently the drive to collaboratively create a Pan Sector Group which will be a game changer for the industry. Her drive and hard work have meant we have more of a voice now.”

“I have totally enjoyed my time with FICA and have worked on some projects I’m very proud of. The decision to retire wasn’t easy for me to make, but the role has been a full-on one and it’s time for me to take a step back and enjoy more of a balance between work and life,” says Prue.

“While I will miss the people and the fabulous relationships built across the industry, I’m also looking forward to being able to move to a more flexible life ahead. I look forward to seeing where FICA goes from here as it also takes on a progressive stage forward.” FICA will be recruiting for a new CEO in the coming weeks.

Source: FICA

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Victoria paves way for heavy duty electric trucks with permanent axle weight concessions

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Victoria is the first state or territory in Australia to announce the permanent removal of one of the main hurdles for heavy-duty electric trucks to operate on local roads.

The state this week announced it would allow heavy duty electric trucks to operate with a 7.5 tonne weight on the steer axle, considered essential for heavy duty electric trucks because of the design and positioning of the batteries.

The Victorian government announcement follows a Federal government announcement to allow wider trucks up to 2.55 metres through the Safer Freight Vehicles package. The previous 2.5 metre width limit and 6.5-ton steer axle weight limit were two key barriers preventing electric trucks from operating on Australian roads.

Click here for the full story

Source: The Driven

Image Credit: Scania

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Increasing sawlog production from existing forests

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Two new reports have been released by the Tasmania Forestry Hub outlining opportunities to support silvicultural interventions that could deliver additional saw log production in the next 10 years.

Australia faces an ongoing shortage of structural grade timber for use in the construction of houses to meet the requirements of a population which will grow to 40 million by 2050. Longer term policy settings are in place to encourage the establishment of new plantations with the aim of growing more timber to meet those requirements. However, it will be at least thirty years before additional wood is available from new plantations.

There are potential forest management solutions which could be introduced now which could result in increased sawlog production from the existing forest estate. However, in some cases those solutions are not commercially viable. There is a strong rationale for Government intervention, in the form of structured incentives, to help forest owners realise these opportunities.

The analysis undertaken for this report has demonstrated that there are opportunities for Government funded incentives to support short to medium actions which can deliver up to 650,000m3 per year of additional sawlog production by the mid-2030s, which otherwise would not be commercially viable. This represents an increase over current sawlog production of about 7 per cent.

Importantly, the proposed actions (conversion of hardwood plantations from short to long rotation and active silvicultural management of regrowth native forests) will deliver important and tangible environmental benefits for the whole community, including increased accumulation and storage of carbon, improved forest health and improved ecosystem function.

Proposed recommendations in these reports to support the silvicultural intervention programs outlined in this report include:

1. Emissions Reduction Fund rules:

a) Ensure that E. nitens and E.globulus are recognised as eligible long rotation species in Tasmania and Victoria.
b) Ensure that the additionality exclusion for government program funded projects is relaxed for long rotation conversion projects.
c) Ensure that actively managed regrowth native forests are eligible for ERF participation where additional and tangible forest and ecosystem health benefits can be demonstrated.

2. Long rotation plantation forestry fund: Establish a dedicated long rotation conversion fund of up to AU$2.5 million annually for ten years, for eligible plantations with agreed criteria addressing species, productivity, scale and proximity to processing facilities and infrastructure.

3. Forest health restoration fund: Establish a forest health restoration fund of up to AU$4 million annually for ten years to support active silvicultural management of regrowth native forests on private land where additional and tangible forest and ecosystem health benefits can be demonstrated and the activity would not be viable without financial support. Criteria for participation to be determined through the application of an appropriate natural capital accounting method and monitoring.

Both reports can be found on the Tasmania Forestry Hub website.

Source: tffpn

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Largest particleboard line in Australia to be installed

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Australian Panels, a Borg company, is to install the largest particleboard production line in Australia at the Mount Gambier location, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide. The new line with an annual capacity of more than 650,000m3 m3 will be put into production in 2025, according to the line supplier Siempelkamp

The forming and press line will include the 8′ x 55.5m ContiRoll with NEO infeed. The scope of supply also includes the cooling and stacking line. Pallmann, a specialist in size-reduction technology, will be supplying new knife-ring flakers, double stream mills, and the established cleaning and grinding robots for knife rings. And Büttner, one of Siempelkamp’s subsidiaries, will also be contributing its expertise as it will be supplying a 6.5 x 32R sized drum dryer and flash-tube.

Australian Panels is now realizing its fifth Siempelkamp press with this order. In 2016, the Australian company ordered a particleboard line with an almost identical scope for its site in New South Wales. At 8′ x 50.4 m, this press is shorter than the one for the current project. Australian Panels most recent order was for an 8′ x 18.8 m MDF line with ContiRoll for the production of thin boards, which was placed in 2019.

Photo L-R: Alex Röwe (Sales Manager Siempelkamp), Darren Johnson (Project Manager, Australian Panels) John Borg (Managing Director/Owner Australian Panels/Borg Group), Marc Mueller (Head of Sales, Siempelkamp) / Siempelkamp

Source: Lesprom, Siempelkamp

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Council’s proposed new rules could cost millions

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

“Extreme” new rules proposed by the Otago Regional Council for Otago’s forestry industry could cost the sector more than a third of its land, wiping out more than NZ$320 million of the region’s forestry value.

City Forests Ltd chief executive and New Zealand Forest Owners Association president Grant Dodson told Otago regional councillors the forestry sector was concerned about setback rules proposed in the council’s land and water plan, now out for public feedback.

Under new national standards there was a 5m setback from small streams and a 10m setback from larger streams. Under the regional council proposal, a 50m setback would be implemented from waterways on a slope of greater than 10 degrees, or ‘‘pretty much the entire forestry estate in Otago’’, he said. ‘‘We don’t believe that the science has been properly investigated or applied in the development of the rules to date‘‘, Mr Dodson said.

‘‘We also note some significant sector inequities, which we believe is a major contributor to some perverse outcomes. We are feeling quite ambushed.’’ Mr Dodson told councillors last week there was concern among forestry owners for the proposed new consenting regime for existing, in some cases long-established, land use.

In the development of rules for the forestry sector there appeared to be input from ‘‘community, mana whenua and councillors’’, but not forestry owners, nor forestry Crown research institute Scion, he said. On behalf of forestry companies representing 125,000ha of plantations across the region, he said the council’s ‘‘extreme’’ rules could have ‘‘absolutely catastrophic’’ economic and social consequences.

There was no reason to expand on rules created through a separate nine-year process to set national environmental standards for commercial forestry, due to come into effect next month. Analysis showed the proposed 50m setback would result in an estimated 37% loss of productive forestry land in the region, which would equate to a more than $320m loss in value to the industry, he said.

‘‘It would completely change the value proposition for forest owners. The impacts on the industry would be dire”. There would also be significant liabilities with respect to the emissions trading scheme (ETS), he said. ‘‘We estimate those liabilities, under the current carbon price could top NZ$980m.’’

Using City Forests’ Waipori Forest as an example, he said under the council’s proposed rules the forest would lose 49% of its productive area, nearly NZ$17m in crop value, and cost more than $76m in ETS liabilities. For the Dunedin City Council-owned company as a whole, the 50m setbacks would mean a 34% loss in productive area, more than NZ$64m in crop value and a near NZ$198m ETS liability.

There were ‘‘literally hundreds’’ of studies that showed that pine trees planted to within 5m of streams produced ‘‘excellent’’ water quality outcomes. We know that fertiliser puts nitrates and phosphates into creeks. Forestry doesn’t fertilise. And so, a pine tree is being forced to move back 50m, and yet I could actually turn that into pasture, put livestock in it, fertilise the hell out of it, even discharge farm effluent in there — all totally detrimental to water quality — and that would be permitted under the plan,’’ Mr Dodson said.

Chief executive Richard Saunders understood the sector would submit on the land and water plan and welcomed the feedback. Mr Saunders hoped to hear from the industry, ‘‘particularly if they’ve got evidence to support’’ managing the effects of forestry on the environment differently from what the council proposed.

Source: Otago Daily Times, City Forests

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First CLT panel from NeXTimber operation

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Timberlink’s NeXTimber facility has pressed its very first Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panel, marking another significant milestone in the construction of Australia’s only combined CLT and GLT (Cross Laminated and Glue Laminated Timber) radiata pine mass timber facility. The commissioning of this CLT line follows production of the facility’s very first GLT beam in August 2023.

David Oliver, Timberlink Chief Marketing, Sales & Corporate Affairs Officer said “The entire team has been working towards this moment since we announced construction of the facility in 2020. To see the hard work of so many come to fruition is very rewarding.”

Patrick Dark, Timberlink CLT/GLT Operations Manager, said “There was such an air of positivity when the panel came off the line. Everybody who has been involved in the installation, testing and commissioning of our NeXTimber equipment should be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

The newly commissioned CLT line, co-located at Timberlink’s Tarpeena, SA, manufacturing facility, can produce panels up to 16m long and 3.5m wide and will unlock significant capability to manufacture mass timber building products in Australia. Mass timber products like CLT and GLT offer an exciting alternative to traditional construction materials and can help to reduce the embodied carbon of a project.

The NeXTimber by Timberlink team are now accepting orders for CLT and GLT as the facility is scheduled for full production by the end of this month. To learn more visit www.nextimber.com.au

Source: Timberlink

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A world-first for nature-based reporting

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Forico has published a world-first illustrative example of an integrated climate and nature sustainability report aligned to the recommendations of both the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). The combined report is an exemplar for businesses and paves the way for the further anticipated development of nature-related reporting.The Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) launched its recommendations and a suite of additional implementation guidance at the New York Stock Exchange during New York Climate Week in September. The TNFD recommendations built on those published in 2017 by the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), providing market participants with the same structure and content to enable integrated reporting of material climate-related and nature-related issues in mainstream corporate reporting.

An early adopter of the TCFD and TNFD methodologies, Forico has produced its Illustrative Example of Integrated TCFD + TNFD Disclosures, published in conjunction with TNFD and created with the assistance of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, with a view to showing how companies with reporting requirements to shareholders and other stakeholders can build on their existing climate-related reporting activities to get started with the assessment and reporting of other nature-related issues aligned with the approach taken by the TNFD.

Building on the TCFD’s focus on atmospheric emissions, the TNFD approach covers the four realms of nature – land, ocean, freshwater and atmosphere (beyond emissions reporting) and facilitates the assessment and reporting of nature-related dependences, impacts, risk and opportunities. This provides business and financial markets with more robust information, assisting in strategic planning, risk management and decision-making around the allocation of assets, by shifting the flow of capital to nature-positive activities.

“At this stage our report is an illustrative example of a report which combines the two sets of recommendations and we hope will provide a useful example as the corporate world moves towards mandatory disclosures of this sort,” said Forico’s CEO Evangelista Albertini.

Although reporting through frameworks such as TNFD and TCFD is currently voluntary, adoption and support of such methodologies is expected to become mandatory in annual reporting cycle as businesses are required to communicate on their impacts on nature and climate.

Forico expects to incorporate the combined framework into its corporate reporting for FY23-24, and into its annual Natural Capital Report published later this year. Executive Director of the TNFD Tony Goldner said “TNFD is focussed on helping organisations bring nature into their decision-making and enabling integrated climate and nature reporting to investors and other stakeholders.

We are delighted Forico has taken a leadership position in reporting on climate and nature issues in an integrated fashion, and we look forward to more organisations taking a similar approach building on their existing climate reporting activities and capabilities.”

Source: Forico

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Wood salvage a race against time

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Forestry crews are in a race against time to harvest 6500 hectares of trees blown over around Taupō and Tūrangi area in the central North Island during Cyclone Gabrielle. Since the February storm, 40 crews have been picking up about 3.5 million cubic metres of wood that was blown down.

New Zealand Forest Managers general manager John Hura said they were trying to salvage as much wood as possible, before it starts to deteriorate. “The salvage operation is a race against time.

“We’ve been fortunate to date that the log quality has held up pretty well, but we’re going into the hot dry period where we can expect some of the wood to deteriorate quickly,” Hura said.

It was hard to get into some areas initially, but access tracks had been created and crews were going full steam ahead, he said. “We’ve harvested 1.25 million cubic metres of logs. We want to at least do another million before Christmas, leaving a million to do in the first half of next year.

“We’re aiming to have the salvage all done by the end of June 2024.”

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Source: RNZ

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Aussie ClimateTech Startup Raises AU$1.5m

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

CLT Toolbox, a Melbourne-based software startup has just secured its first AU$1.5M in seed funding led by leading investors including Archangel Ventures, BlueScope Steel’s venture capital arm, BluescopeX and Rob Phillpot through Gravel Road, the Co-Founder of Aconex, an Australian Construction Tech company that sold legendarily in 2018 for AU$1.6B.

The round also includes Aussie VC’s Flying Fox Ventures, ClimateTech focused Ecotone Ventures and Angel Investors Jodie Imam, Adrian Hondros and Peter Lam. CEO Adam Jones, who was recently announced as the Engineers Australia Emerging Leader of Victoria, saw education and resourcing as a major bottleneck supporting the shift to lower embodied carbon materials, identifying that software can help accelerate the adoption of Mass Timber into the supply chain as a mainstream material choice.

“Without experience, resources, and education – new timber solutions are less likely to be proposed. This software can help us rapidly reduce the time it takes to adopt reduced carbon solutions and accelerate the industry’s decarbonisation movement.” Adam shared.

Hybrid mid-rise or high-rise buildings that combine traditional materials and “Mass Timber” benefits include the reduction of biogenic embodied carbon and potentially accelerated build times. Australia is becoming a leading country in this space with the world’s two largest timber towers, Atlassian Tower in Sydney and C6 in Perth.

The announcement comes at a time when the NSW Government is projected to follow California’s lead and implement the State Environment Planning Policy on October the 1st, which would require the measurement and reporting of the embodied emissions of construction materials and encourage the design and delivery of sustainable buildings. Construction is estimated to be worth 18.1% of Australia’s carbon footprint.

According to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), by including Mass Timber as a contributing core material, some hybrid buildings have proven to have reduced their embodied carbon (including biogenic carbon) by up to by up to 75%. “The inclusion of mass timber can help us achieve the goals being set by the wider industry to reduce the impact of construction on climate change. We need more expertise and market understanding than what is currently available.” Shared Ringo Thomas, Co-Founder of CLT Toolbox.

Timber education is seen as the biggest bottleneck due to associated costs, long learning lead times and low numbers of expert engineers. It is estimated that the learning transition cost alone reaches up to $100,000 per engineer.

The CLT Toolbox software platform will simplify the learning curve for structural engineers to confidently design with mass timber and material guidelines by providing end-to-end education, specifications, resources, computations and design infrastructure, all of which the industry is urgently asking for.

CLT Toolbox aims to tackle this problem on a global scale, recently expanding to new offices in Ethiopia and Indonesia and has gained attention from timber engineering specialist firms across Europe, the UK & North America. Users have already been acquired from both local and international tier one engineering firms who collectively employee hundreds of thousands of engineers worldwide seeking an application to address the demand for green building solutions.

About CLT Toolbox:CLT Toolbox is a design software platform that aims to remove the hurdles for structural engineers to become timber specialists and accelerate the transition to more sustainable building materials to decarbonise the construction industry.

CEO Adam Jones is a recent award winner of the Engineers Australia Emerging Professional of the Year Victorian Award for contributions to the advancement of sustainable construction practices and winner of the 2019 Future Green Leader of the Year by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Source: CLT Toolbox

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Continued decline in Australia’s plantation estate

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Australia’s plantation estate is still on a worrying downward trajectory, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics (ABARES) figures. Australia’s total plantation area contracted to 1.716 million hectares in 2021-22 – a reduction of more than 28,000 hectares.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Product Association (AFPA), Natasa Sikman said, “This continued decline in Australia’s plantation estate is extremely concerning and is a reminder that collectively, industry, federal and state governments and other decision and policy makers need to work together to get more timber trees planted for the future.”

“In the same reporting period, there was a small increase in new plantations of 2,300 hectares (hardwood, 1,181 ha and softwood 1119 ha) but these new plantings will not be enough to meet future demand.

“Australia’s national plantation estate has fallen by more than 250,000 hectares from 1.973 million hectares in 2014-15 to 1.716 million hectares in 2021-22. Australia is currently importing over 6 billion worth of wood products and we already rely on imports for up to 25 per cent of the timber needed to build Australian houses. As the Government looks to build 1.2 million new houses over the next five years, our reliance on imported timber will dramatically increase.

“We know that global demand for timber and wood fibre products is forecast to quadruple by 2050 and it is why we see countries such as the United Kingdom including timber use into their Net-Zero Strategy. The key element of the UK strategy is to increase public demand for sustainably sourced timber through procurement policies and encouraging research into barriers to the uptake of timber. Indeed, recently King Charles visited James Jones and Sons where he discussed the significant benefits of productive forestry a company which partners with Australian based Hyne Timber and XLam.

“AFPA supports the Federal Government’s commitment to plant one billion new production trees and Australia’s forestry sector recognises the work and investment by the Albanese Government, but more is needed to reverse this downward trend in our plantation estate while also increasing the use of timber in the construction sector.

“An increased plantation estate alongside a strong native sector will be critical for Australia to meet its own net zero goals while also contributing to the global climate change fight,” Natasa Sikman concluded.

Source: AFPA

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War on pine needle disease in NZ’s planted forests

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

New research and smart technologies are offering hope and solutions to foresters waging war against a silent enemy in our pine plantations.

Red needle cast (RNC), an unyielding fungal-like disease, has silently been wreaking havoc on pine trees in New Zealand since at least 2008. Infections cause pine needles to lose their colour and fall to the ground, with research showing how defoliation can impact growth for three years after the trees show symptoms.

In response, scientists from Scion’s Resilient Forests Research Programme are at the forefront of the battle, with their work providing hope for forest growers striving to mitigate the combined impact of invasive pathogens and climate change’s impact on tree health.

Dr Stuart Fraser, leader of Scion’s Ecology and Environment research group, has dedicated more than six years to investigating the disease and potential control strategies. Joining him in 2021, forest pathologist Emily McLay is adding depth to the understanding of the disease, with research that aims to make it easier to predict when outbreaks will occur.

La Niña events impacting New Zealand in recent years have resulted in extreme wet conditions. This increased moisture has created a favourable environment for needle diseases, making them more widespread and persistent.

“We are in a new normal,” says McLay. “We used to believe in disease seasons, but recently, these seasons have become continuous due to the prolonged wet conditions. Normally, drier and hotter weather would interrupt the disease cycle, but with the persistent moisture, RNC has continued to thrive, contributing to this year’s severity.”

Satellite imagery of plantation forests on the East Coast, provided by Indufor, illustrates the extent of the disease this August compared with the same time one year ago. 

Scientists say the key to combating RNC lies in deciphering the pathogen-host interaction and how the environment influences it. RNC completes its life cycle on the needles of radiata pine trees, and very quickly responds to environmental stimuli. McLay’s laboratory work is focused on understanding how temperature and moisture drive different processes in the disease cycle. 

“It’s a targeted study that we can use to build epidemiological models, so we can predict when these big years might happen,” she says.

“One of the challenging aspects about field trials is that there’s co-variation. Winter is typically colder and wetter, whereas summer is warmer and drier. When it comes to building a model, it’s really hard to pull those apart.” Her research, therefore, focuses on teasing out the influence of temperature and wetness, shedding light on their distinct roles.

To help the forestry industry and Scion’s pathologists better understand the extent of RNC, Scion’s remote sensing and geospatial intelligence team provides monitoring support. Scientists are mapping the presence of the disease and are keen to hear from industry professionals with suspected sightings of RNC to inform their model better.

As the RNC battle escalates, pragmatic solutions for industry are imperative, with copper emerging as a viable control treatment. Already used in low doses to manage Dothistroma needle blight, a disease akin to RNC, copper’s efficacy has been validated for more than 60 years. The Central North Island, considered a hotbed for Dothistroma, saw the first copper trials to control RNC in 2017, led by Dr Fraser.

With the Resilient Forests Research Programme developed to future-proof planted radiata pine forests from the impact of climate change, McLay’s research is building towards the development of a prototype model to predict RNC disease outbreaks. Although a few years away from being commercially available, the tool’s aim is to empower foresters with information they can use to take pre-emptive action.

With satellite monitoring and copper research, a transformative disease management approach is emerging. “We’re aiming to not just respond to outbreaks, but foresee and address potential concerns,” says McLay.

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Source: Scion

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Australian Timber Market Survey report released

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The latest edition of the quarterly Timber Market Survey (TMS) report has been released for the June quarter 2023.

Softwood timber products – Quarterly

  • Prices for untreated MGP structural timber products remained relatively stable, ranging between -0.1% lower and no change.
  • Price movements for treated outdoor products varied slightly and were as much as -0.1% lower.
  • Price movements for MDF and particleboard products were mixed, between -0.2% and 0.9%, while plywood prices moved downwards by as much as -1.5%.
  • Prices for LVL and I-joist/I-beam products continued to decline, with price movements between -3.9% and -5.6%.

Hardwood timber products – Six monthly

  • Price movements for kiln dried structural hardwood products were upwards, between 1.6% and 2.4%.
  • Price movements for hardwood flooring products were mostly upwards, between 0.7% and 3.4%.

The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.

The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by ten major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; Sustainable Timber Tasmania; Southern Cross Forests; and ACT Parks and Conservation Service.

Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here:

Source: Indufor

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Global significance of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata

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As reported last week, NZ architects, designers, engineers and construction professionals celebrated the innovative use of timber in building and construction at the 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards. The prestigious awards, now in their 48th year, are run by Timber Unlimited and highlight the latest advances in New Zealand’s timber construction capability. The winners of the 12 categories, plus a supreme winner, were announced at a gala dinner in Auckland on 2 November.

Scion’s award-winning timber innovation hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, was given further national recognition by winning the Sustainable Development Award and was highly commended in the Innovation Timber Engineering Award category won by Nelson Airport.

The Sustainable Development Award celebrates buildings that have achieved low environmental impact and enhance New Zealand’s unique society and environment, while the Innovation Timber Engineering Award honours engineering and construction innovation that maximises the use of timber with exciting solutions.

Judges for the Sustainable Development Award sang the praises of the building designed by Irving Smith Architects, RTA Studio & Dunning Thornton Consultants. “[The] building represents a global shift in the way buildings can be designed, prefabricated, assembled, and disassembled,” one judge noted.

“The timber diagrid structure provides a visual aesthetic that brings warmth and expression to the interior.” The second judge said: “This building shines a light towards the future of timber construction in Aotearoa New Zealand and will help pave the way for ways of designing and building with wood that make use of a wide range of materials and available technology for creating timber buildings.”

A judge in the Innovation Timber Engineering Award category said the highly commended Te Whare Nui o Tuteata was of “global significance”. “The innovative structural engineering design of this project is based on a deep understanding of timber properties and how timber buildings can be prefabricated and pieced together to form extraordinary buildings.” Another said the building “set out to explore the frontiers of timber engineering”.

Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder said “we are very proud of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata”. “Not only is it a beautiful building that is fantastic to work in it is a great example of the innovative engineering and sustainable low-carbon construction that the Timber Design Awards are celebrating. New Zealand needs to build more buildings like this so we can reduce embodied carbon in our built environment and meet our 2050 net-zero climate change commitment.”

The building’s name means the great house of Tuteata and was gifted to Scion by the three hapū who are tangata whenua here – Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu. Tuteata is their ancestor. It was officially opened in 2021 by then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has pioneered sustainability and design using engineered wood products and won several domestic and international awards. The design uses a diagonal-grid (diagrid) timber structure and was embodied-carbon neutral at completion.

Source: Scion

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New airport terminal showcases 9 acre timber roof

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All the wood for the 9-acre roof was sourced from within 300 miles of the airport. It could be a game-changer for mass timber.When Portland, Oregon, opens up a soaring new airport terminal in May 2024, it’s widely expected to become a signature building. Part of the draw will be the sweeping, mass timber construction, including a 9-acre roof boasting gracious curves and skylights.

The project’s uniqueness in no small way is thanks to its supply chain. Every piece of wood was sourced from within 300 miles of the airport, and about half of it came from 13 small and tribal landowners in Washington and Oregon. The process was so exacting, the architects knew every board that frames the skylights above the 26 Y-columns came from the Yakama Nation, and all the double beams in the six massive oval skylights came from the Coquille Indian Tribe.

“We’re a natural resource state, and creating that connection into our community was really important,” says Vince Granato, chief projects officer at the Port of Portland. This forest-to-frame system used for the Portland International Airport sought out more sustainably minded landowners, who supported better forest practices, says Jacob Dunn, principal at ZGF, the firm that designed the terminal.

“Architects usually talk to the top of the supply chain, the manufacturers,” he says. “We don’t usually talk to landowners.”

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Source: fastcompany.com

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Sawmill downsizing in B.C. creates opportunities

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Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of softwood lumber, behind the United States. Over the past five years, production has decreased from 48 million m3 in 2017 to 37 million m3 in 2022. Last year, the country’s sawmill output was down almost 40% from the heydays two decades ago when the all-time high reached nearly 60 million m3. With limited opportunities for Canada to increase lumber production, European sawmills will likely remain essential suppliers for the US wood market in the coming decade.

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Source: resourcewise.com, forestnet

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Forestry company displayed high level of carelessness

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A forestry company that showed a “high level of carelessness” involving the use of heavy machinery in streambeds and leaving slash and debris on steep and erosion-prone slopes in Gisborne, should be fined NZ$84,000, the local council has told a judge.

Forwood Forest Management Ltd pleaded guilty to 11 charges laid by Gisborne District Council for breaches of the Resource Management Act resulting from offending that occurred between December 2021 and June 2022. The offending occurred in Papakorokoro Forest, a 287hectare plantation forest about 30km northwest of Gisborne, NZ.

The forest is on steep terrain that is prone to severe erosion, and includes three main streams, all of which flow into the Waipaoa River, which enters Poverty Bay near Gisborne. Since 2018, the forest has been owned by a Canadian company (Forestate Gisborne Holdings 2018 Ltd.), which employs a local agent to monitor harvesting activities in the forest. The harvesting and day-to-day management was carried out by Forwood.

The council was alerted to the offending by the local agent, who became concerned about Forwood’s practices. Council officers visited the forest in 2021 and on four occasions told Forwood director Matthew Strijbosch that they had concerns around general poor practice, including the large amount of slash left on slopes that were susceptible to rain flow.

The offending included the unlawful construction of roads and a stream crossing in the bed of the Mangaruaki Stream. The crossing was poorly built and at risk of failure, which would have seen material enter the stream and cause further erosion. The road failed to meet permitted standards and would also result in material entering the gully and stream.

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Source: Stuff

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Automatic forest health monitoring system unveiled

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In a major development for forest biosecurity and conservation, researchers at Scion have unveiled an automatic forest health monitoring system capable of detecting disease outbreaks in planted forests. This cutting-edge technology, which uses high-resolution satellite imagery, has recently proven its effectiveness in identifying and monitoring red needle cast outbreaks, raising alarm bells for the East Coast.

The innovative system was developed with collaboration partner Indufor as part of Scion’s remote sensing and GIS team’s mission to map, measure, and monitor the nation’s forests. Red needle cast, an unyielding fungal-like disease that has been impacting pine trees in New Zealand since at least 2008, served as the primary case study for this system’s development.

The innovative system at its core combines free imagery sourced from ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellites with high-resolution imagery from commercial satellites. During the last four years, extensive mapping and analysis of East Coast pine forests have been carried out using the high-resolution images to pinpoint regions impacted by red needle cast disease. These results have undergone verification by collaborating pathologists. These disease-affected regions are essential for training a multi-temporal model, which leverages more frequent but less detailed imagery from Sentinel-2.

This year, the success of the monitoring system has been bittersweet for Scion researchers, who have progressively seen large swaths of East Coast forests change colour from green to brown since March 2023. This illustrates the severity of the disease’s impact as well as providing major validation of the system’s effectiveness in detecting disturbances and large-scale forest health issues.

Scion team lead for remote sensing and GIS, Grant Pearse, says what sets this system apart is its ability to automatically monitor only forest areas by combining the detection routine with the high-resolution forest maps Scion is producing for their Digital Twin project. This dramatically reduces the amount of computation required.

“This targeted approach ensures that alarms are only triggered when there’s a real threat to the forest’s health, eliminating false positives caused by unrelated changes in the landscape. It’s ability to target specific areas and bypass irrelevant data or landscape disturbances, makes it a very precise and cost-effective monitoring tool.”

While the system has demonstrated its capabilities in monitoring large outbreaks, the team is keen to receive more on-the-ground intelligence from industry sources. These tips from foresters can further enhance the system’s accuracy in detecting and responding to forest health threats.

“Ongoing collaboration between scientists and industry players is crucial in enhancing this biosecurity tool’s capabilities,” adds Pearse. “Having more accurate data means we’ll need to investigate fewer false positives. Ideally, we are looking for larger areas of trees affected by red needle cast as satellites struggle to detect a few roadside trees, for example.”

The success of this system has raised hopes for its expansion to a national system once all New Zealand’s planted forests have been mapped by Scion’s team. While the focus has primarily been on disease outbreaks, the system has the potential to serve as a general disturbance detector. By targeting specific areas for monitoring, it can effectively identify and respond to various threats that might affect planted forests.

Additionally, the team wants to use the system to study areas within affected forests that remain healthy, potentially due to disease resistance or other factors. This knowledge could provide valuable insights into forest resilience and contribute to more effective forest management strategies.

“The benefit of this monitoring system is that it also provides an opportunity to gather more data so we can learn more and provide even greater support to industry as it looks to recover from the impact of red needle cast or other diseases in the future.” Its asset as a valuable forest protection tool means Scion is now exploring the possibility of integrating this system into New Zealand’s broader biosecurity measures.

Click here to view the automated forest health monitoring system for red needle cast.

A live demonstration of the system will be delivered at the Remote Sensing Cluster Group in a pre-conference workshop the afternoon before the ForestTECH 2023 NZ event runs. This will be held in the Rimu Room at Scion in Rotorua from 1pm on Monday 13 November. The full agenda for the workshop can be viewed here and the programme for the ForestTECH 2023 event running on the 14-15 November, here

Source: Scion

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Vale Dr Tom Mulholland

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Dr Tom Mulholland, a celebrity physician and beloved Kiwi campaigner for physical and mental health, died suddenly at the weekend. Known affectionately as Dr Tom, the medical practitioner had helped hundreds of thousands of people globally over the past three decades including working alongside forestry workers in the bush – from the very top to the lower part of New Zealand, over many years.Mulholland hosted his own TV and radio shows, wrote two best-selling books and was a professional speaker for the likes of Google, Microsoft and Hilton. He worked as an emergency doctor for 25 years and was also an honorary lecturer in psychological medicine at the University of Auckland. He was also an Emergency Department Doctor and GP for over 25 years and has practised from an Auckland Hospital, rural New Zealand towns, the Chatham Islands and worked in Antarctic, Arctic and Indo-Pacific as a ship’s doctor and expedition leader.

Mulholland’s website – “Dr. Tom on a Mission” – says that during his time working in emergency departments, he recognised that many patients visiting hospitals had preventable illnesses.

“Whilst he could often prolong their lives by a few years, months or sometimes only weeks, he realised most of the damage had already been done. With this knowledge and a passion to help people, Dr Tom set out to become the ambulance at the top of the cliff, rather than the bottom”.

He left school in 1979 to join the New Zealand Forest Service and become a forester, the website says. He discovered his passion was helping people, so completed a first-class honours degree in molecular genetics at the University of Canterbury, then graduated with a medical degree from the University of Otago in 1989.

“His love of surfing and the mountains took him to Taranaki where he was an orthopaedic and general surgical registrar, gained a diploma in sports medicine, started his own general practice and founded Taranaki’s first accident and medical clinic, White Cross. He also started Doctor Global and was the first in the world to do online consultations last century, won numerous business awards and featured on 60 Minutes twice.”

From all those in the forestry industry who’s lives had been turned around after being tested out the back of that old Chevy ambulance that Tom used as a pop-up medical clinic, a big thanks. You’ll be missed and so many in our, and other industries, owe our health and in many instances, our lives to your tireless efforts.

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Seed shortage & fire puts Victorian forests at risk

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Victoria’s Ash forests are on the brink of ecosystem collapse following a poor flowering season and repeated fire events, warns the State’s leading forest flowering and seeding expert.

The issue highlights concerns raised by Forestry Australia, the seed collection services provided by VicForests, may be lost following the native timber sector shutdown in Victoria.

Ecologist Owen Bassett, who has continuously monitored flowering and seed crops in Victoria’s Ash forests since 1994, has reported that for the first time in 28 years, flowering did not occur as predicted, greatly impacting the natural regeneration ability and hampering seed collection efforts.

“What this means for Victoria’s Ash forests is that they are at serious risk of ecosystem collapse, because they will not have the capacity to naturally regenerate themselves come the next fire season,” he said.

Seed collection has also been part of Mr Bassett’s work with seeds gathered used to assist forest regeneration after fire and storm events. Forests harvested for timber are also resown using seed from the harvest sites with leftover seed contributing to a bank used to resow areas including national parks.

However, with repeated bushfires in 1998, 2003, 2006/07, 2009, 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2019/20, the seed bank was nearly exhausted. “The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and VicForests undertook the largest sowing event in Victoria’s history following the 2019/20 bushfires resowing of 11,500ha of Ash forest,” Mr Bassett said.

“However, despite that world-leading effort, more than 10,000ha of Ash forests were not able to be resown and is not likely to recover following those fires. “Another serious concern is that there is at least 143,000ha of fire-killed forest which is now regenerating, but extremely vulnerable to another fire event. If it burns it will be lost forever because it doesn’t have the ability to reseed itself and we just don’t have the seed to resow it.”

Seed collection is one of the services provided by Victoria’s forest agency VicForests which deposits into the seed bank seed from timber harvest and specific collection operations. However, Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freeman said this service may be lost following the native timber sector shutdown in Victoria.

“With the closure of native forest harvesting and recent announcement that seed collection contractors are now considered part of that transition package, who will save our forests when the next bushfire comes?” she said. Dr Freeman said the Australasian Fire Authority Spring outlook for 2023 identifies Gippsland will face high fire risk this season putting Ash forests at risk.

“In the face of these threats, active forest management is vital to build resilience against catastrophic fire and restore and maintain forest ecosystems,” Dr Freeman said. “If we are serious about meeting Greenhouse Gas emissions targets, then we must do more instead of taking people such as highly skilled seed collectors out of the forests.”

Source: Forestry Australia

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BC removing single-use plastic wrap in tree planting

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After a trial in Northern B.C., the province says they will be removing plastic wrap for some tree planting processes to reduce climate change. They say 3 million single-use plastic tree seedling wraps will be removed from the tree-planting process next year. They add it supports 45 million seedlings as the plastic wrap is used to bundle the seedlings into groupings of 10, 15 or 20 depending on the species.

The wraps will be removed from all pine, spruce and cedar tree seedlings and will support reforestation in all corners of the province. The government says it follows a successful trial in the Cariboo region and shows that the wrap is not needed for seedlings to be successful.

“The common thinking within tree planting has been that plastic is needed to support, grow and manage this many successful seedlings, but this project proves definitively that there is a better way,” said minister of forests, Bruce Ralston.

“Work like this is fundamental in moving British Columbia toward a low-carbon future that does not rely on plastics and makes us leaders in the global fight against climate change. Removing one single-use plastic has a positive impact on our environment, but removing three million single-use plastics per year is a massive achievement.”

It is estimated that by 2030, around 18 million single-use plastic seedling wraps will be eliminated within the province by the wider forestry sector. The removal will also help the province meets its CleanBC goals.

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Accelerating Australia’s hydrogen-transport future

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A new report released by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and GHD Advisory calls for Australia to focus on hydrogen-powered transport – alongside electric vehicles – or risk being left behind our international counterparts. While battery electric vehicles will drive decarbonisation of road transport in Australia, there are opportunities for hydrogen-powered vehicles to play a significant role with long-haul travel and freight transport.

This is because hydrogen-powered vehicles are quicker to refuel, have a greater range between refuelling stops and can maximise their payload because they don’t need to carry large, heavy batteries required by electric vehicles. The ‘Hydrogen vehicle refuelling infrastructure’ report sets out the opportunities and challenges for deploying refuelling stations for hydrogen-powered road vehicles in Australia.

CSIRO’s chief scientist, Prof Bronwyn Fox, said Australia needs to urgently decarbonise its transport sector, which currently accounts for 18.6 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions, if the country is to meet its net zero commitments. Heavy vehicles are a key contributor to these emissions.

“While we know hydrogen will play a critical role, we also know that much of the key infrastructure for storing, moving and distributing hydrogen for use as a transport fuel – including pipelines, storage tanks and refuelling stations – is yet to be built,” Prof Fox said. “That’s why this report is so important. It identifies priorities for action, including areas that would benefit from targeted research and innovation.”

The report compared the different hydrogen storage and dispensing options available, and evaluated refuelling infrastructure options based on fuel demand and distance from the hydrogen source. It found that while all Australian hydrogen refuelling stations currently have onsite hydrogen production, we will need to move to centralised offsite production and distribution of hydrogen in order to refuel vehicles at scale.

Shawn Wolfe, Executive Advisor at GHD Advisory and lead author of the report, said Australia currently has only five hydrogen refuelling stations in operation, with 20 planned or under construction. “The pace of the transition to hydrogen-powered transport is moving a lot faster internationally than in Australia,” Mr Wolfe said.

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Source: CSIRO

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The commercial transport revolution – it’s underway

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Advanced technology will pave the way to exceed what was previously thought possible.

The commercial transportation industry faces rapidly changing regulations and evolving customer needs. Cummins examines the future of commercial transportation, and indicates that it will be shaped by three perspectives: a shifting energy mix, innovations in software, and evolving use cases driven by autonomous driving and vehicle-as-a-service (VaaS).

The commercial transportation sector has already begun a rapid period of software development, helping fleets avoid accidents, optimize their fuel usage, and identify the best routes. Going forward, safety will continue to be paramount; meanwhile, connectivity and software development will revolutionize condition monitoring and performance optimization. This revolution will take place at three levels: asset-level, system-level, and intermodal.

In the near future, asset-level connectivity will continue to be under a spotlight. For example, Cummins is already testing prognostic algorithms that leverage massive amounts of data to move customers away from reactive service models to predictive, planned maintenance. The idea is this: sensors in the vehicle monitor the way equipment is performing and report abnormalities. This allows potential issues to be detected early enough that the necessary action can be taken, either through over-the-air updates or at the next scheduled maintenance, so unplanned downtime is reduced, increasing the availability and reliability of the equipment.

Soon, we will see an increased focus on system-level connectivity, where emphasis will expand to managing the complete fleet and system elements such as distribution centres and refuelling stations. With this, we will see the sector continue to drive automated decision making through an increased reliance on harnessing real time data and computing capabilities.

Finally, intermodal connectivity will connect different modes of transportation. This will create a commercial transportation eco-system where individual assets among different modes of transportation such as road, rail, sea, and air are connected and operate in harmony. One of the things common between autonomous trucking and VaaS (Vehicle as a service) is they may both drive an evolution among commercial transportation use-cases, but at different scales.

Autonomous trucking may have more profound impact on transportation, as more vehicles start to communicate with each other and with infrastructure elements such as traffic signals and depots. A key outcome of the rise of autonomous trucking could be the competitiveness of trucking against other modes of transportation such as rail. Autonomous trucking could also impact the financials of the industry; as these vehicles will be highly utilized, which could lead to shorter replenishment cycles and lower volumes of vehicles to own. As the safety considerations are getting addressed, this and the increasing focus on system-level connectivity will also continue to shape the role of the drivers in autonomous vehicles.

Vehicle-as-a-service, on the other hand, may have a limited impact in commercial transportation. VaaS, which mirrors the efficiency model used by Uber and Airbnb, primarily relies on under-utilized assets. Meanwhile, commercial transportation is inherently different from privately-owned cars and homes, where a wealth of these under-utilized assets exists. In commercial transportation, there is not a large reserve of under-utilized assets. There may be use-cases where a combination of VaaS and advanced autonomy (without a driver) could address chronic driver shortage issues. Meanwhile, for fleets where utilization rates are already very high and access to finances is not an issue, the impact of VaaS will be limited.

Commercial transportation is certainly in a period of rapid change, but the sector has always pushed hard to ensure it would meet the needs of society. Today, those needs are increasingly demanding, and technology will once again rise to the challenge.

Source: Cummins.com

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Remote data collection technologies being profiled

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On-site and virtual registrations to this year’s annual ForestTECH 2023 event along with the pre-and post-conference workshops continue to flow in.

As well as a large international contingent of presentations this year on remote sensing, data collection, forest inventory, mechanised planting and automated silviculture, innovations being employed to collect spatial data will be showcased to local forest companies.

What’s being covered?

2023 presentations include;

  • 1. High-value, low-cost satellite imagery options for AU/NZ foresters, Steve Critchlow, Group Managing Director, Critchlow Geospatial
  • 2. The current state of satellite information in forestry – how your data travels the globe, James Saunders, Director R&D, Swift Geospatial, South Africa
  • 3. Australasian designed and built solar-powered stratospheric aircraft. A game-changer for collecting frequent, high-resolution aerial data, Mark Rocket, CEO, Kea Aerospace

This is the first flight of the Kea Atmos Mk1 solar-powered aircraft in March 2023. The 12.5 metre wingspan Kea Atmos Mk1 took flight over Springfield Aerodrome in Canterbury.

In addition to the conference programme and trade exhibitions, a series of pre-and post-conference workshops have been set up for ForestTECH 2023 delegates in both countries. Workshop details can be found here.

Full programme details and further information for the NZ leg of the series (14-15 November) and for the Australian event, one week later (21-22 November) can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events/ft23

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October 2023 NZ log market update

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Opinion: Marcus Musson, Forest360 Kiwibuild may be the best thing we can export to fix the housing crisis in China, lots of hui but not much doey. Since the early 2000’s, China has been flat-out doeying in the residential construction sector with an unfettered, mass urbanization plan that has seen a massive expansion in apartments throughout the country. During the US lead Global Financial Crisis (GFC), China propped up its economy through local government investment in infrastructure which saw Chinese construction companies such as Evergrande, Country Garden, Fantasia and Modern Land grow quickly.Following their ‘success’, many ‘diversified’ into other investments such as electric cars, energy and higher risk investments fuelled by eye watering levels of domestic and foreign debt. The Bank of America Research team estimate that Chinas outstanding mortgages now amount to 31% of GDP and around 60% of all household assets are in real estate.

Que 2021 and a number of these companies started having a few liquidity issues following Beijing’s introduction of the ‘three red lines’ rule after a realization of over speculation in the residential property market. Unfortunately, this might have been a bit like the current government’s ‘Tough on crime’ policy – too little too late. He Keng, the former deputy head of the statistics bureau has said that, at the extreme, there could now be enough empty homes to house 3 billion people, but more likely, there’s enough to easily house 1.4 billion, which co-incidentally matches the entire population of China. In hindsight, they should have had a bit more hui before all the doey and, unless the entire population wants to move into a new house tomorrow, new builds might stay subdued for a while.

What does this mean for us? Exports to China make up around half of our total NZ harvest level and the majority of what we send there goes into single use construction so it’s a reasonably important market. The old adage that ‘when China sneezes, we get the flu’ comes to mind and unfortunately at the moment the Chinese economy has a really good dose of pneumonia.

There is still underlying demand from China at the level of around 60,000m3 per day, which is around 2,000 truck and trailer loads, but it’s an unknown what that will look like going forward. October at wharf gate prices are down around $5/m3 on September to the $114/m3 level (A grade) which is $12/m3 lower than the 3 year rolling average and $14/m3 under this time last year. With current cost structures for harvesting and cartage, anything under the 3-year average is a bit marginal.

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Source: Forest360

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Timberlink board appoints Paul O’Keefe as CEO following retirement of Ian Tyson

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The Timberlink Australia & New Zealand Board has resolved to appoint Paul O’Keefe into the role of Chief Executive Officer following the recent announcement of Ian Tyson’s retirement.

To ensure a smooth transition, Paul has been appointed to the role of CEO effective immediately, with Ian Tyson to act in an advisory role until December 31st 2023.

Paul O’Keefe has been a crucial member of the Timberlink Executive Lead Team in the capacity of Chief Financial & Governance Officer over the last seven years and is well placed to ensure the delivery of the next stage of growth and strategy.

We wish Paul all the best in his new role and thank Ian for his exceptional leadership and professionalism.

Source: Timberlink

Image Credit Timberlink – Paul O’Keefe (left) and Ian Tyson (right)

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Ian Tyson stepping down as Timberlink CEO

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Ian Tyson will retire as Chief Executive Officer of Timberlink Australia & New Zealand at the end of this calendar year. Ian commenced in the role of CEO when Timberlink was first formed on 1st February 2013, and through his leadership over the last ten years, Ian has led the business through challenging times, ensuring positive returns; from the early days of operational stability to what is now a well-honed and strategically focused organisation delivering significant beneficial outcomes.

There have been many achievements and transformative projects that Ian has led during his time as CEO, and there are none greater than the evolution of NeXTimber®, Timberlink’s mass timber manufacturing business, and Timberlink’s wood-composite manufacturing products. These two projects were borne through Ian’s unwavering drive and focus on innovation which allowed Timberlink to grow from a timber processing focussed business into a much broader manufacturing and construction solutions focussed business.

Ian has led with integrity, and this has been underpinned by the values that were developed many years ago to ensure that everyone at Timberlink conducts themselves in a way that makes Timberlink a great place to work. We wish Ian all the best in his well-earned retirement.

Source: Timberlink

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The trees come back – looking back 42 years

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Some of the worst eroded pasture land in New Zealand can be seen in the East Cape region of the North Island. This film, produced 42 years ago, explains in detail how the problem arose, starting with the European settlement in the late 1890s when the natural forests were destroyed to make way for farmland. This destruction, coupled with high rainfall and land that was naturally unstable, led to spectacular erosion.

The film describes how the then New Zealand Forest Service established the East Cape forests of Mangatu and Ruatoria. The large plantation forests of radiata pine have helped to stabilise the land and provided employment for the inhabitants of the East Cape region. The film also shows that, by measuring land movement on planted and unplanted slopes, Forest Research Institute scientists have been able to produce geological maps and a system of land classification based on slope stability.

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TR Group revises hydrogen truck deal with Hyzon

In Wood Transport by innovatek

TR Group has signed a revised commercial agreement with US-based hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors for the delivery of up to 20 hydrogen fuel cell trucks (FCEVs). The first two trucks with single stack 200kW fuel cell systems are scheduled to be ready for commercial trial beginning in March 2024, and will be deployed for up to three months.

Following the initial commercial trial, TR Group has the option to purchase the two trial trucks as well as to upfit another 18 trucks with 200kW fuel cell systems to be assembled at Hyzon’s Melbourne, Australia facility.

TR Group, New Zealand’s largest heavy-duty truck fleet owner, first announced a deal with Hyzon for 20 FCEVs in November 2021. The first of these units were originally expected to be in the country by mid-2022 for performance testing.

However, it was reported delivery of the hydrogen trucks was delayed due to the pandemic and supply chain disruption, while Hyzon also faced compliance issues with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to its Nasdaq listing.

In September this year, Hyzon announced it had resolved the SEC investigation by agreeing to pay a civil monetary penalty of US$25 million in three instalments without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint. Hyzon says the new agreement with TR Group supersedes the previous 2021 agreement and provides a revised commercial path for deployment of the hydrogen trucks in New Zealand.

“We look forward to deploying the first trucks with 200kW fuel cell systems produced by Hyzon in heavy-duty operations with TR Group,” Hyzon chief executive Parker Meeks says.

In preparation for the trucks, TR Group has worked closely with the New Zealand Government and Hiringa Energy, who are developing the hydrogen fuel supply network. Hiringa, along with their station partners Waitomo, will soon break ground on the first of four green hydrogen refuelling stations across key freight routes in the North Island.

The New Zealand Government has supported the project with NZ$6 million in co-funding coming from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA. This was part of a wider $3 billion ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure programme announced in Budget 2020.

Source: Transportnews

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Isuzu showcases future of transport at Mobility Show

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Isuzu Motors displayed its heavy-duty Giga Fuel Cell truck and N Series battery electric model at the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo along with battery-swap concepts and new product development processes. It follows hot off the heels of Isuzu Australia’s Brisbane Truck Show attendance, which featured the first appearance of the zero emission N Series EV in the southern hemisphere.

The theme of the stand in Tokyo emphasis the brand’s vision of a “mobility society”, showcasing a broad range of emerging technology, including the latest battery-electric advancements, the long-awaited hydrogen fuel-cell prototype, and internal combustion improvements.

There was also a world-first reveal of the e-Vision Cycle Concept, showcasing the potential for a fast-turnaround battery-swap system. In attendance at this year’s event, Isuzu Australia director and chief operating officer Andrew Harbison, said the expo provided a chance to get to grips with the cutting-edge transportation technology.

“Our industry is in the midst of unprecedented change. From the very fundamentals of the way in which we do business, to evolving environmental and societal expectations its clear an industry transition is well and truly upon us,” he said. “From a product perspective, events like the Mobility Show are invaluable for markets such as Australia. Having direct access to some of the key emerging technologies, we’re looking at genuine solutions in our corner of the world which are both insightful and highly valuable.

“Having boots on the ground here in Tokyo, it’s hard not to get swept up in the concept that this really is a critical juncture in our industry’s history. “It’s a fantastic time to be involved in the transport industry and it does feel as though we’re on the cusp of seismic change in the way we think about and approach transport and mobility, especially from a product perspective,” Harbison says.

Isuzu’s introduction of a “modular approach” to its future product development platform was another highlight. This includes the introduction of modular architecture and a component standard which allows for optimal merging of components, parts, and devices across various needs and applications. It breaks with the convention of developing model-specific parts.

This fresh product development approach comes in anticipation of new and emerging technologies. The Tokyo exhibit was part of a joint stand with UD Trucks and featured Isuzu’s hydrogen truck that’s being jointly developed with Honda Motor Co. At the show it attracted plenty of attention on the stand, going on display for the very first time.

Since 2020, both Isuzu and Honda have backed hydrogen fuel cell technology as a solution for heavier loads over longer distances. Production models are expected to begin in 2027 with the pace of FCEVs as genuine heavy-duty solutions gathering pace in recent years.

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Source: Transporttalk

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Unique timber for new Spirit of Tasmania vessels

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

More than 6000 lineal metres of Celery Top Pine sourced from below the waters of Lake Pieman on Tasmania’s west coast will be used as feature wall cladding on two semi-enclosed deck spaces on the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels.

The timber is harvested by Hydrowood which will be working with two other local businesses – AJB Furniture and Joinery and Brock Building Systems – to produce the finished profiles to be shipped and installed by Scan Marine in Finland. Hydrowood General Manager Darren Johnson said the commitment by the Tasmanian Government to include local products – and the early engagement with Hydrowood – led it to working with the project’s architect and contractor undertaking the builds.

“This is the first time Hydrowood has supplied timber for an international ship build and, hopefully, it demonstrates the capacity of our business to deliver premium Tasmanian timber to both domestic and international markets,” he said. “This project for the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels will showcase our uniquely Tasmanian timber products to locals and visitors to the state for years to come.”

Hydrowood, one of the world’s first underwater forestry operations, discovered the largest quantity of environmentally-friendly specialty Tasmanian timber in many years. It involves the recovery of these submerged logs from the depths of water bodies, repurposing them into high-quality, usable timber.

Mr Johnson said Hydrowood had recently undertaken Tasmania’s largest equity crowdfunding exercise to expand its footprint in the timber industry. “More than half of our investors were Tasmanian which is fantastic to have the local community as our brand ambassadors,” he said. “We want to make Hydrowood accessible to everyone. This is a piece of Tasmanian history and we are excited to share it with locals.”

Spirit of Tasmania Managing Director and CEO Bernard Dwyer said the company was highly supportive of any Tasmanian business providing content for its new vessels. “The Celery Top Pine sourced from below the waters of Lake Pieman is a truly unique Tasmanian timber,” he said. “Using this timber in wall cladding on the new ships is the perfect way for Hydrowood to showcase its timber products to our passengers, and for Spirit of Tasmania to support and promote Hydrowood’s venture to provide its Tasmanian timber to domestic and international markets.”

The new Spirit of Tasmania vessels are being built by Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC), one of Europe’s largest shipbuilding companies, which specialises in the construction and maintenance of car and passenger ferries, icebreakers and defence vessels. RMC formally started construction of Spirit of Tasmania IV last year when the first steel was cut at a traditional ceremony at the RMC facility in Finland. The second steel cutting ceremony was completed just prior to Christmas 2022.

The Rauma-based company, founded in the summer of 2014, is fully under Finnish ownership. More information is available at www.rmcfinland.fi

For more information about Hydrowood, please visit www.hydrowood.com.au

More information about the new ships is available at: newships.spiritoftasmania.com.au

Source: Hydrowood

Source: Hydrowood

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4th Green Triangle Timber Awards celebrated

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The atmosphere was nothing short of spectacular as the 4th Green Triangle Timber Awards Gala Dinner unfolded on 27 October 2023 at The Barn Mount Gambier, South Australia. With a backdrop of perfect weather, 500 guests including The Hon. Peter Malinauskas MP, Premier of South Australia and The Hon. Clare Scriven MLC, Minister for Forestry gathered for an evening of celebration and recognition of industry’s highest achievers.

With Australia’s funny man Dave Thornton opening the evening with his hilarious comedy, a total of ten awards were presented to industry leaders, recognizing their outstanding contributions to their respective fields. Among the recipients, the prestigious Timber Legend Award was given to Dr. Jim O’Hehir.

Dr. O’Hehir’s exceptional dedication to the forestry sector, his relentless commitment to the delivery of ground-breaking research projects, and his efforts in implementing technology advancements throughout the region earned him this honour. Jim’s passion for forestry and his tireless efforts in mentoring the next generation of industry leaders has left an indelible mark on the sector, making him a deserving recipient of the Timber Legend Award.

In addition to celebrating the winners, the Committee also extend their congratulations to the award finalists. Their nominations alone are recognition of their unwavering commitment to the industry, showcasing their exceptional talent and dedication. Their contributions serve as a testament to the remarkable progress and innovation taking place in our community.2023 Award Winners

Operations – Harvesting and In-Field Chipping Excellence
Jamie Marlow – Merrett Logging

Operations – Silviculture and Timber Support Services Excellence
Jason Whyte, Berry & Whyte Surveyors
Highly Commended – Josh Praolini from Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub

Logistics Excellence – Port Operations, Marshalling and Timber Haulage
Adam Merrett – Merrett Logging

Sawmilling and Processing Excellence Award
Andrew Burston – OneFortyOne

Safety Excellence Award – Individual Achievement
Ryan Cassar – Tabeel Trading Nominees
Deb Kuhl – Timberlink Australia & New Zealand

Trainee Award
Grace Tse – Timberlands Pacific
Highly Commended – Amelia Harris of Van Schaik’s BioGro

Environment & Sustainability Award
Wendy Fennell – Fennell Forestry
Highly Commended – Levi Bateman of HVP Plantations

Safety Excellence – Less than 30 Staff
Glenara Transport

Safety Excellence – More than 30 staff
Merrett Logging

Timber Legend Award
Dr. Jim O’Hehir (photo)

The Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards and Gala Dinner would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors and suppliers. Their commitment and contributions continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring the awards success, creating the space and opportunity for industry leaders, government officials, and community members to come together and celebrate excellence.

We extend our thanks to all our sponsors for their invaluable support, our distinguished guests for joining us for the occasion, and the nominees, finalists, and award winners for their tireless efforts in shaping the future of the industry.

For more information about the 4th Gala Dinner and its award recipients, please visit the website at www.gttia.com or contact Gaylene Newton, info@gttia.com

Source: GTTIA

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Benefits of improved connectivity and telematics

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Connectivity and telematic technologies used in the trucking industry have advanced significantly in recent years – and with them, other key advancements.

Vehicles and components are smarter than ever thanks to smaller, more advanced electronics and widespread communications infrastructure. Digital applications such as remote monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics are changing vehicle management.

Today, customers have a wealth of real-time data from their engines to leverage, ultimately increasing vehicle uptime, reducing costs and enhancing efficiency.

Telematics systems can provide customers with comprehensive, real-time insights into various aspects of their vehicles, such as engine health, fuel consumption and maintenance needs.

Connectivity technologies can accumulate insights and send information regarding a vehicle remotely, including the engine’s health, driving patterns and fuel usage.

Telematics and connectivity are critical technologies for modern customers to consider integrating into their vehicles. Here are some of the key benefits of telematics and connectivity.

Here, Cummins provides some of the key benefits of telematics and connectivity.• When an equipment failure occurs, remote diagnostics can help technicians identify the problem and ensure the right parts are available for repair.
• Predictive service insights or prognostics systems can significantly increase uptime. By identifying problems before they cause a failure, preventive maintenance can extend equipment life and reduce downtime. This technology monitors a customer’s entire fleet, notifying them of only the engines that require attention.
• Connectivity allows customers to remotely push over-the-air updates to any trucks under their control. This means that trucks require no additional downtime to apply updates and always have the latest software to deliver the highest performance and reliability.
• Timely maintenance and repairs can prevent more extensive and costly breakdowns, ensuring that trucks remain in optimal condition with minimal downtime.
• Advanced telematics-based insights also allow customers to study their driver’s behaviour and determine areas of efficiency. With cloud-based management, drivers are routed to the nearest service station, eliminating unnecessary mileage when looking for a shop.
• Telematics data can monitor driver behaviour to help identify and address unsafe driving practices such as harsh braking. With data on driver behaviour, businesses can offer further training to help keep incidents to a minimum.
• Data collected through remote monitoring can improve optimization for current vehicle models and future engines. Performance and maintenance data on current generations of engines will enable more robust and efficient engines in the future

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Source: Cummins

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Mercedes-Benz premieres long-haul eActros

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has unveiled the series version battery electric long-haul eActros 600 which, according to the company, is set to replace the majority of diesel trucks in the segment over the long term. The model made its global debut on October 10 in front of an international audience at an event held near Hamburg, Germany.

Mercedes-Benz says the model promises to “define the new standard in terms of technology, sustainability, design and profitability”. It follows the market launch of the first eActros for heavy-duty distribution transport in 2021. The eActros 600 features a range of 500km on a single charge and can achieve more than 1000km per day with intermediate charging during legally prescribed driver breaks – even without megawatt-charging, the company says.

The high battery capacity of more than 600 kilowatt hours is where the model gets its designation—it features three battery packs, each with 207kWh. It has a gross combination weight of up to 44 tonnes and a payload of around 22 tonnes with a standard trailer.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks chief executive Karin Rådström says the eActros 600 “stands for the transformation of road freight transport towards CO2-neutrality like no other truck with a three-pointed star. This makes entry into e-mobility even more attractive for fleet operators.”

According to the company, around 60% of long-distance journeys of Mercedes-Benz Trucks customers in Europe are shorter than 500km. Charging infrastructure at the depot and at the loading and unloading points is sufficient in such cases, it says.

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Source: transporttalk

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Five hydrogen trucks for Ikea Australian operations

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Furniture giant Ikea has revealed plans to use hydrogen trucks to cut its transport emissions, just one week after adding electric vehicle recharging stations at another of its Australian stores. The five hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, announced, will join the company’s European operations, where they are expected to cut 160 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

IKEA Austria chief sustainability officer Alpaslan Deliloglu said the five Quantron QLI FCEV trucks were the first hydrogen trucks deployed by the furniture group worldwide and were chosen to cut its carbon emissions over long distances. “We want to show that a transformation to zero-emission delivery is already possible today,” he said.

The trucks, created by German firm Quantron AG in collaboration with Canada’s Ballard Power Systems, were drafted, built and delivered within 18 months. They have been supported by a grant from the Austria government.

Quantron executive chairman Andreas Haller said the vehicles could travel up to 400km on a one tank of hydrogen thanks to its energy management system and aerodynamics. The five hydrogen trucks would be deployed alongside a fleet of 56 electric delivery trucks, Haller said, to cut a total of 610 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

Ikea’s use of hydrogen vehicles comes after the Australian government launched a AU$2 billion funding program, Hydrogen Headstart, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to boost the production of green hydrogen in the country.

It also follows the announcement of a two-year trial by NSW to allow heavier electric and hydrogen trucks on the state’s roads, increasing the axle weight limit.

Source: thedriven

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Tesla Semi e truck does 1,732 km in a single day

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Tesla Semi is one of the most innovative products to hit the market in the heavy trucking sector in recent years. It launched last year, and PepsiCo was one of the first big customers, and at the time Tesla made the claim that the Semi was capable of a loaded range of over 800 km on a single charge.

Recently, an independent organisation in the US, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), has been testing the PepsiCo Tesla Semi trucks, along with other electric trucks, in the Run for Less challenge.

One of the highlights of the challenge, which ran for 18 days, was a Tesla Semi that completed 1,732 km in a single day. This is a big achievement since many thought an all-electric full-sized truck couldn’t travel long distances. During the 1,732 km of travel, this Tesla Semi made three charging stops.

Two of these charging stops were under 45 minutes while the third around mid-day lasted for over an hour and got the truck’s 3% state of charge up to nearly 90%. The truck spent 81.8% of the time driving while charging made up 11.1%. During driving, 92.6% of the driving was done at speeds over 80 km/hour.

Although the exact load on the day was not shared, the event organisers have previously stated that the average loads during the trial have been around 31.8 tonnes.

Other trucks were also part of the challenge and the goal of this event has been to analyse which truck would be able to make the most contribution and have the long-range required to be able to complete logistics in a commercial setting.

The NACFE challenge incorporated not only electric trucks but also commercial electric vehicles from multiple fleets that are delivering goods on real roads with data being collected from each vehicle.

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Source: thedriven

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Semi-truck same turning circle as Tesla Model Y

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Tesla has been a pivotal part of changing the perception of EVs by getting millions of attractive zero-emission vehicles on the roads. The Tesla Semi is one of these less-discussed vehicle programs from the brand but promises to do much the same in the world of transport logistics and long-distance trucking.

Now, footage of the Tesla Semi being hauled by another Tesla Semi has been made public. The latest video was showcased by Jay Leno on his unique vehicle-focussed YouTube channel, highlighting some of the key features that the Semi has on offer which have previously been under wraps.

In the video which spans over 42 minutes, Leno describes the progress of the Semi program and how well Tesla electric trucks are getting and achieving great outcomes. Leno also got behind the wheel of the truck and compared the key differences between normal diesel trucks and electric trucks. The Tesla Semi’s ride was smooth and efficient and also quite comfortable.

Speaking of efficiency, the Semi has a very low coefficient of drag, coming in at just 0.4 which is much lower than most trucks on the road today which are above 0.8. Part of the inspiration behind the Semi’s aerodynamic design came from the high-speed bullet trains in Japan which are designed to pierce through air while travelling at incredible speeds.

One of the most interesting details shared in the video was how easy the largest electric vehicle Tesla is to turn. The Tesla Semi has almost similar turn radius as a Model Y or Model 3 making it smooth and quick to drive.

Leno also spoke to Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, and senior manager of Semi engineering program, Dan Priestley, about the Semi’s engineering and cost savings. According to Tesla, each Semi can save freight and logistics operators up to $US200,000 in just fuel costs over the first 3 years of ownership.

While driving the truck, Leno got a chance to tow a trailer with another Tesla Semi on it which according to Priestley was a load over 27 tonnes (60,000 lbs). Even with the trailer on, Leno described the drive as if the Semi was not towing a large load. That’s thanks to the motor and drive-train technology which has been optimised for the application.

On the drivetrain, it was also shared that Tesla is using parts from its other vehicle programs such as the Model 3 and Model Y but more interestingly from the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck which the Semi has adopted multiple hardware solutions.

Other more broader industry challenges were also covered including improving the safety in the industry and promoting electric trucks to the younger generation given the aging workforce in the sector.

It was suggested electric trucks could help the industry get younger people to feel more compelled to be a part of the trucking and logistics industry once again.

Source: thedriven

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AI, robots & satellites fighting wildfires

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

This year has been a challenging one for Phil Schneider, who hasn’t seen wildfire behaviour like this in his 47-year firefighting career.

Blazes raged through more than 2,000 acres of wildland in recent months in his county deep in the woods of Oregon, where a wet climate once made forest fires unthinkable. That’s an increasingly common scene around the world — from Canada to Greece, global warming has helped fuel larger and more destructive blazes, pushing firefighting services to the brink. But Schneider has a new recruit to help manage the growing risks: artificial intelligence.

“It’s a huge game changer for the fire service,” says Schneider of the technology created by Pano AI, which acts as a second set of eyes looking out for fires. While AI alone won’t completely ease the burden of wildfire management, it’s one of a growing number of tools firefighters have at their disposal to detect and combat blazes.

The high-tech fire lookout Schneider has recently put to work leverages panoramic cameras that capture minute-by-minute snapshots of their surroundings. Those images are then analysed by an AI algorithm that has learned how to look for signs of fires. It’s a job that’s traditionally been done by human eyes, whether it’s bystanders phoning in a fire or lookouts posted in towers.

It can take hours, if not days, to detect flames with conventional methods, says Schneider, a fire chief in Clackamas County. The AI system, on the other hand, can pick up the threat right away.“Fires are burning hotter and faster. That early detection is going to make a difference,” Schneider says.

On one occasion, Pano’s AI fire watcher located a blaze that Schneider’s crew failed to find after an hours-long search in forests. In another case, it spotted a blaze 30 minutes before anyone else.

San Francisco-based Pano AI, which has built about 100 AI-enabled fire lookouts in six US states and Australia, is one of a growing number of startups leveraging technology to aid in wildfire detection and prevention. Virtually nonexistent five years ago, the club of wildfire tech companies now has at least 400 members, says Bill Clerico, founder and managing director of Convective Capital, a venture capital firm specifically focused on investing in the sector.

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Source: Bloomberg

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New standards to make Australian trucks safer

In Wood Transport by innovatek

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) welcomes the announcement by the Australian Government of increased width limits for trucks fitted with the most modern safety technologies. The Safer Freight Vehicles package will see an increase to the overall width limit from 2.50 to 2.55 metres for new trucks fitted with several safety features.

These new features include devices to reduce blind spots, electronic stability control, advanced emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, better reflective markings, and side guards to better protect vulnerable road users.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto OAM said the regulator had long advocated for increased harmonisation of Australian vehicle standards with global standards. “These changes will allow manufacturers to bring their latest designs, fitted with a full suite of safety and environmental technologies, to market in Australia,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“Several years ago, the NHVR identified current width limits as a barrier to the take up of safety technologies in our Vehicle Safety and Environmental Technology Uptake Plan (Vehicle SETUP). “We have been working with the Commonwealth, our partners and industry to explore how we can enact change to align with international standards and promote the highest possible level of safety.

“The changes introduced by the Safer Freight Vehicles package will ensure the safest vehicles are available in Australia – helping to keep drivers, pedestrians and all road users safe.” The NHVR will continue to work with the National Transport Commission and Governments to reflect the new changes in the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

The changes announced also remove dimension barriers that prevented heavy vehicle operators voluntarily fitting optional safety features to their vehicles, such as mirror and camera systems. “Heavy vehicle operators have shown they are proactive in taking up safety features, but sometimes regulations have stood in their way. The changes made today by the Australian Government remove these barriers and support improving road safety.”

These changes will help ensure manufacturers and owners are not disadvantaged by fitting trucks with these road safety technologies.

To learn more about the Safer Freight Vehicles package, click here

Source: nhvr.gov.au

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Emissions calculator for NZ transport fleets

In Wood Transport by innovatek

EROAD’s latest Sustainability Survey shows business fleets are still lagging on emission reduction and that access to better data through tools like this will help.

EROAD, in collaboration with EECA (the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority), is proud to introduce its web-based vehicle emissions calculator tailored for New Zealand transport fleets. With a shared commitment to a more sustainable future, this partnership aims to empower businesses in their essential journey towards decarbonisation and environmental responsibility.

Transportation currently contributes to a significant 17% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it a pivotal sector to address in the fight against climate change. With the New Zealand government setting ambitious targets of achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2050 and a substantial 50% reduction by 2030, the need for innovative solutions to curb emissions is more pressing than ever.

EROAD’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Heine, emphasised the significance of this initiative, stating, “The EROAD Emissions Calculator will play an indispensable role in helping New Zealand fleets embark on their decarbonisation journey. By providing the tools for measurement and planning, we aim to encourage and enable the reduction of emissions across the transport sector.”In 2022, EROAD secured co-funding from EECA’s Low Emissions Transport Fund (LETF) to develop an advanced heavy vehicle decarbonisation and recommendation tool. Following an intensive year of development and comprehensive testing, this innovative tool is now available for businesses to adopt.

Camilla Cochrane, EECA’s Transport Manager, said, “The transport sector has a key role to play in meeting New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets. While vehicles over 3.5 tonnes make up 4% of the national fleet, their footprint is outsized – making up 27% of our transport emissions. We need to use all the levers at our disposal to accelerate uptake of low- and zero-emissions vehicles, and we’ve been working with the sector for years, offering support through the Low Emissions Transport Fund and, soon, some new funding options.”

Heine stated, “For New Zealand to realise its net zero targets, all fleets must formulate comprehensive emissions reduction strategies, and that needs accurate measurement and understanding of their current emissions footprint,”. “As the business landscape evolves, sustainability has emerged as a pivotal factor for success. Just as companies balance customer service, costs, and growth, they must now factor in their environmental impact.”

EROAD’s third annual sustainability survey, which gathered insights from over 1200 business decision-makers, revealed a concerning disparity between large and small fleets. Notably, 66% of large fleets have implemented emissions reduction plans and are actively monitoring their emissions. However, smaller businesses with fewer than 300 vehicles lag behind, with 62% lacking net-zero strategies and a staggering 78% not measuring their carbon emissions, making meeting the Net Zero targets incredibly challenging.

Craig Marris, EROAD’s Chief Sustainability Officer, highlighted the survey’s findings, “The results from our Sustainability Survey underscore the divergence between large and small fleets in terms of preparedness and shows that more urgent support and awareness of the available tools is needed. Access to data remains a key barrier for many smaller fleets to initiate their journey towards net zero emissions.”

EROAD and EECA jointly funded the tool’s development and are delighted to offer it free of charge to all New Zealand fleets. Marris underscored the tool’s significance, “This marks a monumental advancement for fleets grappling with the cost-benefit analysis of vehicle upgrades or replacements. Until now, a lack of access to data has hindered many businesses from fully understanding the impact of their fleet operations on their bottom line, as well as the potential transformations achievable through sustainable and efficient choices.”

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Source: EROAD

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ForestTECH 2023 pre-and post-conference workshops

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

ForestTECH, it’s this region’s most popular annual independent forestry technology series. In addition to advances being made in remote sensing and forest inventory, like recent ForestTECH events, sessions this year have been set up on the very latest developments and learnings from forest establishment, mechanised planting and silvicultural operational trials and commercial operations.

In addition to meeting up in person in both Rotorua, New Zealand and Melbourne. Australia, virtual on-line links from the New Zealand event have also been set up for those outside Australasia who’ll be unable to travel to attend in person.

In the past few years, delegates from well over 20 different countries have linked into the annual end of year ForestTECH event. Connecting remotely will again ensure international delegates, who now are such an integral part of the wider ForestTECH community, can actively be involved again this year.

As well as the conference and trade exhibitions running in both Rotorua, New Zealand on 14-15 November and Melbourne, Australia on 21-22 November, a series of pre-and post-conference workshops have been set up for this year’s ForestTECH 2023 delegates. All are free to registered delegates. These include;

Monday 13 November. Remote Sensing Cluster Group Meeting. Industry application of remote sensing methodologies and reports around how well these methods are being integrated into industry settings.

Tuesday 14 November. Advances in forest management planning and operations efficiency. The latest developments in CFForest, a spatially-enabled operations management system developed for forest owners.

Wednesday 15 November. The Tools for Foresters workshop will look deeper into SOP’s developed for UAV data capture by three students. Scion and Eagle Technology will also be hosting an interactive session within the workshop on using the ESRI deep learning toolset within ArcGIS Pro.

Tuesday 21 November. ProFert (a model designed to enable forest managers to identify the most responsive plantations to fertilise and the most profitable combination, rates and timing of fertilisers to apply through the entire rotation) and APSIM (a process-based modelling framework that’s been developed for assessing yield gaps and the effects of climate change on eucalypt and pine plantation productivity in Australia, along with management impacts on water use and carbon sequestration) tools for optimizing fertiliser use and profitability in plantations.

Wednesday 22 November. The latest developments in CFForest, a spatially-enabled operations management system developed for forest owners.

Full details on the planned ForestTECH 2023 Workshops can be viewed here

Note: Discounted early-bird registrations to attend this year’s series finish on Friday 13 October – TODAY.

Registrations can be made directly on the ForestTECH 2023 website

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Bunnings commits to frame & truss expansion

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Frame and truss prefabricated building solutions set to become an integral part of Bunnings expansion strategy.

Like the line art that Bunnings deploys in their catalogues to convey minimalism and budget prices, everything the uber-dominant hardware chain does is carefully calculated to capture market opportunities and invariably, is the harbinger of sweeping change that can realign an entire industry.

With builders and developers increasingly recognising the dividends of embracing modular construction and prefabricated building solutions, Bunnings’ latest announcement is particularly timely. They have commenced production at a 31,000sqm frame and truss prefabricated manufacturing plant in Truganina, located in Melbourne’s west. Once operating at full capacity, this plant will produce wall frames and roof trusses for up to 2800 homes annually.

This follows the opening of a similar plant in outer Sydney’s Minto in July and precedes another set to open in south-western Brisbane’s Wacol early next year. Bunnings have committed AU$75 million to the venture over the past 24 months.

According to the Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia (FTMA) there are 287 frame and truss businesses of varying capacity nationally, and a significant proportion of these are small businesses. Bunnings strategy behind selling prefabricated frames and trusses – which make up about 15 percent of the cost of a home – is that it establishes a supplier’s relationship with a builder at the start of construction and makes it easier to sell other products throughout the typical nine-month construction process.

Ben McIntosh, Bunnings Chief Operating Officer – Commercial, said, “We’ve been really open about the potential we see in the frame and truss market, and we’ve made some deliberate investments over the past few years with a focus on our team, systems and equipment. “Builders are time-poor, they need efficiency… Anything you can do to help builders get things up faster, more efficiently…[it’s] what the customer is demanding.”

According to a company statement, their strategic expansion isn’t just about business growth; it’s a timely response to the current market demands. “The Australian residential construction industry is undergoing a period of significant change, with systemic labour shortages and a desire for better efficiency resulting in a growing demand for prefabrication [frame and truss solutions] delivered direct to site.”

For more information visit: bunnings.com.au

Source: Bunnings

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Engineers Australia awards CLT Toolbox Founder

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The Engineers Australia Excellence Awards celebrates innovation in engineering with an increasing focus on more sustainable building solutions.

Adam Jones, the founder of CLT Toolbox, has just been awarded the Engineers Australia Emerging Professional of the Year Award, for contributions to the advancement of sustainable construction practices. The top engineers of Victoria their accolades at the 2023 Engineers Australia Excellence Awards held in Melbourne last Wednesday.

The CLT Toolbox overcomes a key bottleneck preventing the important transition from high carbon emission materials like concrete to low emission timber by providing education and design infrastructure in an agnostic software platform. The honor serves as a humbling recognition of his ongoing efforts to promote environmentally friendly building methods.

His team is leading the growth of a network of contributors working to make mass timber a more available choice for engineers across the country. Despite a heightened national interest in a timber transition, Adam identified that a lack of education and access to easy-to-understand templates was preventing engineers from choosing sustainable building materials over concrete and steel.

“We’re on a mission to bring sustainable building materials into the mainstream. CLT Toolbox aims to make mass timber the path of least resistance, making it easier than concrete or steel. I’m deeply grateful for the acknowledgment and excited for the path ahead,” Adam said, who shared the launch of the software wouldn’t be possible without the CLT Toolbox Team’s support.

The Emerging Professional of the Year Award celebrating innovation in projects delivering low-carbon solutions comes at a time when the Australian government is doubling down on decarbonising the construction industry and reduce the country’s embodied carbon footprint.

The award also recognises Adam’s extensive career and contributions to structural engineering and sustainability. including his role in the “Rethinking Cement Report” with Beyond Zero Emissions and his educational contributions through interviewing leading timber global experts on the Timber Talks Podcast.

Adam was also previously recognised as Future Green Leader of the Year by the Green Building Council of Australia in 2019. He’s deeply passionate about making timber a mainstream option for the emerging markets in construction. “Adam has been dedicated to helping engineers find a visible route to contributing to a more sustainable construction industry, helping engineers become champions of the decarbonization movement at a critical time,” shared Ringo Thomas, Co-founder of CLT Toolbox.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Adam has also made educational contributions through his popular podcast, “What You Will Learn,” with over 9 million downloads and is a bestselling author of the book “The Sh*t They Never Taught You,” further illustrating his commitment to broad-based education and personal growth. “It’s a collective effort, and the award is a reflection of the hard work put in by our team, and the openness of the industry to new, sustainable solutions,” Adam added.

Source: CLT Toolbox

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AU$10 billion Housing Australia Future fund passed

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The Albanese Government should encourage timber homes being built under the AU$10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) to fast track our net zero commitments and help Australia fight climate change, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Natasa Sikman said.

As Australia’s population grows, to an estimated 31 million in 2030, even more buildings will be needed. Using timber under the HAFF can solve the housing crisis and reduce Australia’s emissions budget.

“We congratulate the Albanese Government securing Greens support on delivery of this landmark policy and with its AU$10 billion price tag the Government should be considering how to address numerous policy challenges through its delivery. Using Australian grown and manufactured timber in the construction of new homes under the scheme can boost local industry, help the country meet its net zero targets and refocus the need to plant and grow more timber trees to boost future supply,” Natasa Sikman said.

AFPA is also calling for specific policies to increase detached housing alongside ways to drive medium and high-density options. The Government should consider measures to help increase supply to help first home buyers and essential workers access the detached market, while the construction and supply materials industry, including timber, also needs confidence to grow a steady supply of new dwellings.

“The typical timber house frame absorbs 9.5 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, or the equivalent of offsetting the emissions of four petrol powered cars off Australia’s roads for a whole year. When you include other timber and wood furnishings like floors and decks and furniture items, the figure can grow to 25 tonnes of CO2,” Natasa Sikman said.

The construction, operation and maintenance of buildings accounts for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. As Australia’s population grows, to an estimated 31 million in 2030, even more buildings will be needed. With the recent National Cabinet target to build 1.2 million new homes over five years under the National Housing Accord this could mean 30 million tonnes of stored carbon in the next five years.

“Timber is the ultimate renewable product and for such a large policy as the HAFF, the Albanese Government should be considering the carbon benefits of the materials being used to build new homes, not just the finished product, in terms of overall benefits to our society,” Natasa Sikman concluded.

What is the Housing Australia Future Fund? After more than half a year stuck in the Senate without enough support to become law, the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) has finally passed parliament after Labor struck a deal with the Greens.

While it’s been touted by the government as the biggest-ever investment into affordable housing in Australian history, the policy is a little complicated, as it isn’t a direct injection of funding into housing. This is how it will work.

More >>

Source: AFPA, 9News

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Wood products policy signals the way forward

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Support for New Zealand’s wood processing and manufacturing industry, as proposed in the National Party ‘Forests for a Strong Economy’policy will advance New Zealand’s economic and sustainable future. The policy can be downloaded here.

“New Zealand’s wood industry is one of the few sectors able to promote regional growth, strong communities, and environmental benefits,” says the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) Chief Executive, Mark Ross.

The National Party policy carves out initiatives such as implementing a scheme under the Emissions Trading Scheme making carbon values available to wood processors, introducing a streamlined consenting process to establish new wood processing facilities, and facilitating growth in our export markets for value-added wood products.

“As a major industry in New Zealand we are at the forefront of delivering economic growth, long-lived carbon storage and emissions reduction,” adds Ross. ‘Having a high-ranking Minister for Forestry (incl. wood) will also be a critical component to driving the industry forward’.

A strong domestic wood processing sector will benefit foresters, processors, contractors, manufacturers, and the building sector. This increases employment, investment in our regions, and helps meet our climate change emissions targets.

Creating and selling our wood product story, plus working closely with policy makers and the wider industry to encourage greater support and investment will provide the opportunities to lift growth in the wood processing and manufacturing sector.

Source: WPMA

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Wood fired steam powering wilding conifer business

In HarvestTECH, WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Developing commercially successful projects from environmental challenges is bread and butter for the Central Otago social enterprise Wilding & Co. By extracting high value essential oils from invasive Douglas fir, the Queenstown business has removed thousands of the unwanted conifers from local high-country farmland. Constantly seeking to improve the environmental and economic performance of their business, Wilding & Co. have set an ambitious new goal of cutting out diesel fuel.

In order to decarbonise their operation, Wilding & Co. is working with Canterbury based start-up Mackwell & Co. to develop a 35hp Steam tractor that meets all of their energy needs. Capable of generating clean energy from abundant forest available fuels, including green wood-chip, hogged forestry slash and dry firewood, the Mackwell A35 is a modern steam engine unlike any other. For Wilding & Co., the Mackwell A35 will generate all of the steam power they need for distillation, hauling feedstocks and running PTO powered chippers and generators.

Wilding & Co. founder Michael Sly recently travelled to Mackwell’s Christchurch workshop to test his distillation unit with their 400hp (2MW thermal) prototype boiler. Michael was impressed with the Mackwell boiler’s speed to reach full pressure, ability to use a high moisture content fuels and the clean and safe, low volume – high temperature combustion system.

Predicted to come to full pressure in just 10 minutes, Michael considers the A35 Engine to be a “game changer” for small to medium scale operators, who generally find biomass boilers unviable due to safety concerns and the length of time they take to reach full pressure.

In recent years, diesel has become one of Wilding & Co.’s major operational expenses so the adoption of Mackwell’s advanced-steam technology promises to significantly improve the enterprise’s bottom line. Having crunched the numbers himself, Michael says the ability to use waste biomass steams to displace their most expensive input is a “no brainer”.

Further, the A35 promises to slash Wilding & Co.’s operational carbon emissions by over 96%. Wilding & Co. already leverages ecological benefits of removing wilding pines to market his premium oil product and sees an opportunity to further enhance their band position through decarbonisation.

Source: Mackwell & Co

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Powering vehicles of the future – hydrogen vs electric

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Trelleborg enters the discussion on which technologies will be appropriate to power the vehicles of the future.

Pick any data point and the growth of electric cars looks like a wildly successful phenomenon. The number of electric cars on the world’s roads hit 16.5 million at the end of 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That is triple the number in 2018. Two million electric cars were sold in the first quarter of 2022 alone, three quarters more than the same period a year earlier.

Yet with such a rapid rate of growth come challenges. The price of critical minerals essential for battery manufacturing are soaring. Lithium prices, for example, the IEA said were seven times higher in May 2022 than they were at the beginning of 2022.

The expansion of charging infrastructure in many locations has failed to keep up with the growth in electric car sales, prompting hesitancy among potential buyers. Anxiety over the range of electric vehicles regularly crops up in consumer surveys, despite the industry’s best efforts to publicize how this has extended.

For many would-be buyers, questions over range and efficiency are only part of the picture. They focus on more mundane issues, such as where to charge an EV when living in an apartment block. That, according to Weimann, is becoming a redundant question. Employers across Europe are investing in charging infrastructure and gas stations are pivoting with installations of superchargers that can fuel 250 kilometres of range in just 25 minutes.

If you drive up to 250 kilometres per week, then you don’t need a charger at home. You can charge while you buy groceries or pop out for coffee with a friend. A change of mindset is required to see the opportunity of charging while parked and doing something meaningful rather than taking the extra ride to the filling station.”The growth of EVs will place unprecedented demand on the national grid. To drive 160 km, an EV uses the same amount of electricity as it does to power a typical US home for a day, according to the US Department of Energy. Yet, while EVs place significant demands on the grid, they can also be part of the solution.

Smart charging technology known as “vehicle to grid” enables car batteries to give power back to the grid, taking some pressure off when demand is greatest. Plans to utilize the technology are already moving through the German parliament. This ‘breathing of energy’ is totally new and saves a huge amount of money on the grid because authorities don’t have to use their own storage capabilities. You can just use the fleet on the street.

Battery technology is now so advanced that it dominates the attention of governments and manufacturers. However, Weimann says that hydrogen power is developing quickly and holds advantages over electric vehicles in certain contexts, particularly heavy trucks.

Batteries weighing as much as two tonnes would be required to power standard-sized trucks, compared to a hydrogen fuel load weighing a quarter of that. That would ultimately cost the operator 1.5 tonnes of payload, and that is before you consider the slim prospect of finding super chargers outside of developed western economies. Hydrogen trucks have a window of opportunity for at least the next ten years.

That lack of infrastructure hints at the limitations facing e-mobility during the years ahead, and even points to a crisis for developing economies. Across China, the Americas and Western Europe, governments have set ambitious emissions reduction targets, which is fuelling investment in infrastructure to support the growth of e-mobility.

Cars are built for huge markets. The countries who are lacking in charging infrastructure, or who don’t have the power to switch, are going to need help developing further. Otherwise, it won’t be long until there are no longer new cars available to these markets.

For now, manufacturers are focused on their domestic markets and it is working, but will everyone be willing to switch to electric vehicles? Car enthusiasts tend to be romantic about combustion engines. Whether they can be converted is perhaps the truest test of electric cars as products.

Source: Trelleborg

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Early EOI – Wood Transport & Logistics 2024

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This year, well over 250 forestry and log transport delegates from companies across Australasia, North and South America and Europe met up in Rotorua, New Zealand. The occasion? The long overdue Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 conference, workshops and exhibitions.

With so much effort going into larger transport companies decarbonising their fleets and innovation and early adoption of electric, hydrogen and dual-fuel hybrid technologies by log transport operators in this part of the world, the Rotorua venue, inside and outside (see images from 2023) was packed. The place was humming.

Feedback from speakers, delegates and exhibitors from the 2023 event overwhelmingly were looking for another technology update in 2024. The drivers? The sheer pace of change with new and emerging technologies, the operational and commercial trials underway by local heavy transport fleets and the rapid deployment of this technology into forests and wood cartage operations all meant another industry get-together was being sought – one year on.

And, we’re delivering. Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 is planned to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024.

Pace of change dramatic:

The uptake of electric vehicles into heavy transport operations is really picking up speed. The global electric truck market was valued at US$728 million in 2022. Between 2023 and 2032, the electric truck market is estimated to show a compound annual growth rate of 31.3 % and will reach US$11.08 billion over this time.

Electric trucks are replacing diesel trucks. In many countries, a raft of government initiatives and financial assistance are promoting their adoption. Market growth is being spurred on by rising demand for logistics services, lower fuel costs, and maintenance expenses. Moreover, there are incentives to use zero-emission vehicles. As well as new battery technologies, the development of automated battery swapping hubs and the roll out of charging infrastructure across the country is also encouraging the switch from diesel to electric.

Hydrogen and dual fuel hybrid trucks likewise have been out on local roads. Larger fleet operators are upgrading and transitioning their fleets. High-capacity hydrogen refuelling sites across multiple regions have also recently been set up to service these new trucks.

Along with rapid advances being made in log transport fuelling options, significant advancements in just 12 months have been made in truck convoy platooning, single-vehicle autonomous operations, off-road AV driving technology, systems for log measurement and new log transport safety initiatives. Improved connectivity being rolled out for more remote sites has also led to unprecedented innovation being seen in moving logs through the wood supply chain. And recently, the new fuelling technologies are also moving up the wood supply chain, into wood harvesting machines out in the forest.

Planned format for Wood Transport & Logistics 2024As part of the revolution to move forest harvesting and log transport operations towards a low emissions future, a raft of new innovations and results from commercial and operational trials across Australasia are now ready to be shared. Wood Transport & Logistics in May 2024 will again be providing that independent platform for local businesses.

Early Expressions of Interest to present:

If interested in presenting next May, early expressions of interest are being sought from log haulage companies, forest companies, equipment and technology suppliers, researchers … If keen, or looking for further information on Wood Transport & Logistics 2024, please contact FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp on brent.apthorp@fiea.org.nz

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Mechanised silviculture technologies being profiled

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

ForestTECH is this region’s premier forestry technology series. It’s been going now for 17 years. It’s the one forestry technology event every year that brings together forest resource managers, inventory foresters, remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists and researchers from throughout Australasia.

For the last three years, tree crop, forest establishment and silvicultural managers have also been actively involved with data capture technologies moving beyond mature stands to pre-and post-planting operations.

In the last 3-4 years, there has been a resurgence of interest being shown by forestry companies in Australasia on mechanised or automated operations for planting and silviculture.

The economics are now starting to stack up. The technology addresses the growing issue of labour shortages that are being faced over the planting season. Mechanised or machine planting is already successfully being used across Scandinavia, Brazil, the USA, Canada and more recently, New Zealand and Australia.

Operational trials have successfully been undertaken in Australasia and now commercial planting is being undertaken in both the central North Island, New Zealand and in Victoria, Australia.

Key presentations at ForestTECH 2023 include;

1. Lessons from two planting seasons in Victoria using a fully mechanised planting operation – results, lessons and payback from a forest owner’s and contractor’s perspective

2. A new concept in mechanised planting. Results from the first Australasian trials by Pan Pac Forest Products using the Swedish designed and produced PlantMax mechanised planter

3. Results from operational trials using remote controlled mechanised tree pruning

4. Using smart phone and drone collected data to improve the quality and productivity of Chilean mechanised thinning operations

In addition to the conference programme and trade exhibitions, a series of pre-and post-conference workshops have been set up for ForestTECH 2023 delegates in both countries. Workshop details can be found here.

Full programme details and further information for the NZ leg of the series (14-15 November) and for the Australian event, one week later (21-22 November) can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events/ft23

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Tasman region forestry study important for the industry

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

A seven-year forestry study looking at the impact of sediment in rivers from harvesting and earthworks has entered its fifth year. The NZ$2.7 million study is jointly funded by Ministry for Primary Industries through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and OneFortyOne New Zealand Forests. The work is being done in two forested catchments located in OneFortyOne’s Donald Creek Forest near Tadmor in the Tasman district, New Zealand.

Jo Field, OneFortyOne’s Environment Manager, said the study compares sediment from a harvested area with a non-harvested area, exploring the effectiveness of forestry erosion sediment control measures as well as looking at opportunities to improve practice. The study is being conducted in two forested catchments located in OneFortyOne’s Donald Creek Forest near Tadmor in the Tasman district. The comparative catchments are adjoining and of similar size, area, geology and topography, and planted in Pinus radiata of similar age.

“Before the study started, we researched suitable locations, and we landed on Donald Creek as it represents the soil type found in a significant portion of our forests the region.” Jo says. The long-term study works with Moutere gravels, which is a relatively stable soil type with a high clay content.

The sediment control practices focus on reducing sediment into streams from disturbed ground (through earthworks and harvesting) as well as measuring water turbidity, the amount of fine sediment on and in the streambeds, and collecting stream habitat, algae cover, invertebrate, and fish data.

Most sediment will be ‘delivered’ during storms, so the focus of the project is on collecting good-quality, storm-related suspended sediment data from the pre-harvest to the post-harvest period. The project will quantify how much sediment can be prevented from leaving a harvesting site using sediment control practices.

“The current phase of the study is measuring post-harvest sediment load changes and impacts using current best practice sediment control techniques, alongside freshwater monitoring data collected throughout the study,” Jo said. “This year we reached a significant milestone for the project. We were able to analyse and compare the data from a catchment that has been recently harvested with data from the control (unharvested) catchment.

Interim results show that sediment loads are higher in the post-harvest catchment than in the control catchment. This is expected for the post-harvest area as there are extensive earthworks associated with roads and landings and it no longer has the tree canopy to reduce the impact of rain on the soils and stream, however the groundcover vegetation does develop rapidly. Importantly, the higher sediment loads in the stream appear to be from in-channel processes and not so much from the harvested area.

“Despite the sediment loads being higher after harvesting, there has been no quantitative or anecdotal evidence to suggest any impact on water quality or habitat in the Tadmor River downstream.

“This is a valuable opportunity to test the performance of current and new in-forest sediment management techniques – and we are grateful to work alongside Cawthron Institute, Envirolink, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research as well as the Ministry for Primary Industries. This is important work, which we’ll be able to share widely with the forestry sector and other stakeholders,” said Jo.

Source: OneFortyOne

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AI, robots & satellites fighting wildfires

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

This year has been a challenging one for Phil Schneider, who hasn’t seen wildfire behaviour like this in his 47-year firefighting career.

Blazes raged through more than 2,000 acres of wildland in recent months in his county deep in the woods of Oregon, where a wet climate once made forest fires unthinkable. That’s an increasingly common scene around the world — from Canada to Greece, global warming has helped fuel larger and more destructive blazes, pushing firefighting services to the brink. But Schneider has a new recruit to help manage the growing risks: artificial intelligence.

“It’s a huge game changer for the fire service,” says Schneider of the technology created by Pano AI, which acts as a second set of eyes looking out for fires. While AI alone won’t completely ease the burden of wildfire management, it’s one of a growing number of tools firefighters have at their disposal to detect and combat blazes.

The high-tech fire lookout Schneider has recently put to work leverages panoramic cameras that capture minute-by-minute snapshots of their surroundings. Those images are then analysed by an AI algorithm that has learned how to look for signs of fires. It’s a job that’s traditionally been done by human eyes, whether it’s bystanders phoning in a fire or lookouts posted in towers.

It can take hours, if not days, to detect flames with conventional methods, says Schneider, a fire chief in Clackamas County. The AI system, on the other hand, can pick up the threat right away.“Fires are burning hotter and faster. That early detection is going to make a difference,” Schneider says.

On one occasion, Pano’s AI fire watcher located a blaze that Schneider’s crew failed to find after an hours-long search in forests. In another case, it spotted a blaze 30 minutes before anyone else.

San Francisco-based Pano AI, which has built about 100 AI-enabled fire lookouts in six US states and Australia, is one of a growing number of startups leveraging technology to aid in wildfire detection and prevention. Virtually nonexistent five years ago, the club of wildfire tech companies now has at least 400 members, says Bill Clerico, founder and managing director of Convective Capital, a venture capital firm specifically focused on investing in the sector.

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Source: Bloomberg

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Revolutionising forestry with 3D deep learning

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

In the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, one of the most critical factors for success is access to vast amounts of labelled data. These labelled datasets power AI models by giving them lots of examples to learn from. While researchers and data scientists in many industries have enjoyed the benefits of extensive labelled datasets to train and finetune their deep learning models, forestry has often lagged behind due to the absence of large, labelled datasets.

Now, thanks to an international collaboration involving Scion, the University of Gottingen and the University of Applied Science and Arts (HAWK) in Germany and led by Dr Stefano Puliti at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), a benchmark dataset for forestry is publicly accessible.

Research papers associated with the two-year project have recently been published. However, the impact of the ‘For-Instance’ dataset extends far beyond the academic realm. More than simply a collection of labelled data, the dataset marks a significant turning point in 3D deep learning for forestry by providing researchers and AI specialists with the raw material they need to train and test their models on real-world forest data for the first time.

At a time when data is often considered the most valuable commodity, this dataset breaks down the barriers to entry for AI adoption in forestry. Instead of spending months collecting and labelling data themselves, data scientists at New Zealand companies and industry service providers now have access to a valuable resource that can accelerate their own innovative AI-driven solutions for forestry. Scion’s team lead for Remote Sensing and GIS, Grant Pearse, says the dataset is “game-changing” for New Zealand’s forestry industry as it will unlock a multitude of possibilities.

“We contributed labelled data from radiata pine to empower researchers and industry to develop and test models specifically for point clouds collected from our commercial radiata forests. The data are labelled in such a way that models can be trained to identify and segment individual trees as well as the stems, live branches and woody branches of each tree within the lidar point clouds – this directly aligns the AI models with the needs of New Zealand’s forestry sector.

“But what makes this dataset even more powerful is its benchmarking aspect.” In machine learning and AI, benchmark datasets play a pivotal role in advancing research. They provide a standardised way to evaluate different algorithms and approaches. The FOR-Instance dataset not only offers labelled data, but also predefines how the data should be split for training and evaluation of AI models. This ensures that researchers and industry can make fair and objective comparisons between their models and others in the field, enhancing the credibility of their work.

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As part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2023 event, Grant Pearse, Scion’s Team Leader for Remote Sensing & GIS will be outlining to local foresters as part of the NZ leg of the annual series on 14-15 November, opportunities for using one of the largest datasets for high resolution land-cover mapping (a digital twin of New Zealand’s productive forest estate at national scale). Full details on the ForestTECH 2023 programme can be found here.

Source: Scion, FIEA

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New $200M sawmill in B.C. being built

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When a B.C. forestry giant like Canfor Corp. announces it plans to spend $200 million to build a new sawmill in Houston, British Columbians can be forgiven for thinking the company means Houston, Texas.

After all, most of the new mills companies like Canfor and West Fraser Timber have bought over the past decade have been in the U.S., notably the U.S. south, which now has more available timber than B.C. does.

But the new lumber mill Canfor plans to build is in Houston, B.C. It will be a rebuild of the existing lumber mill there that it is in the process of shuttering. At the beginning of this year, Canfor announced it would shutter its lumber mill in Houston this year, but said that the site would be redeveloped.

Canfor announced it will build a new “low cost, high efficiency facility” in Houston on the site of the existing mill. It will have a capacity of produce 350 million board feet of lumber annually. “I’m very pleased to be making this announcement in British Columbia, where Canfor has been proudly headquartered for 85 years,” said Canfor CEO Don Kayne.

“This project represents another significant investment by our company to strengthen our diversified operating platform and ensure that we can continue to deliver the high-value products that are in demand by our customers around the globe.”

The news of the new sawmill was welcomed by the B.C. government, which has otherwise governed at a time when there has been a steady stream of announced sawmill and pulp mill closures in B.C.

“There is no question that we are in a period of transition in the forestry sector, and this announcement represents an important step forward,” said B.C. Forestry Minister Bruce Ralston. “I am pleased to see Canfor, a company with deep roots in the province and strong partnerships with local First Nations, make this investment.”

Canfor says vendor and equipment for the rebuild will be finalized in early 2024, and demolition of the old mill to start in the spring. The company expects it will take two to two and half years to build the new sawmill.

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Historic high-resolution imagery boost for ETS

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

High-resolution aerial photos of rural New Zealand from around 1990 are now publicly available for use in mapping and spatial analysis. They will be used for a broad range of applications by government, councils, forestry consultants, businesses, universities and the public.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service (TUR-NZFS) and Toitū Te Whenua – Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) have partnered to process and release more than 38,000 high-resolution aerial images captured between 1975 and 2005, with most of the images taken around 1990.

The imagery was scanned by Toitū Te Whenua through the Crown Aerial Film Archive historical imagery scanning project. TUR-NZFS then improved the imagery’s immediate usefulness for mapping and spatial analysis by orthorectifying (spatially aligning to real-world locations and removing distortions) and mosaicking (stitching together).

TUR-NZFS made a significant investment to process and release this imagery, which covers about 70 million hectares. This has resulted in most of the country now having access to mapping and analysis-ready, high-resolution imagery either side of 1990 that was previously unavailable to the public.

The primary driver for processing and releasing this imagery was to provide high-quality data to inform Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) forest land status. The ETS incorporates 31/12/1989 as a key date to determine forest land entitlements and obligations and aerial imagery is the most definitive and comprehensive information source to inform ETS land status at this date. As information confirming the date of forest establishment so long ago is often patchy, the availability of historic high-resolution imagery is of great assistance for more accurately verifying forest establishment dates, determining forest extent and ETS status.

The processing and public release of this imagery will produce benefits for the ETS, including:

• Increasing the integrity of the forestry aspects of the ETS

• Helping ETS forestry applicants and consultants to prepare applications and increasing the accuracy and certainty of their self-assessed land status

• Providing investors greater certainty for their land use investment decisions due to increased certainty of ETS land status

• Reducing the effort of ETS assessments by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and increasing the accuracy and transparency of these assessments.

The release of this imagery addresses a key information gap for the ETS says Phillip Lubeck, Manager of Spatial Intelligence at TUR-NZFS.

“Prior to this project, orthorectified near 1990 imagery coverage was patchy, lower resolution and not publicly available. The release of this mapping and analysis ready imagery is a major step change for ETS forest land status decisions. We also recognise there are broader uses of this imagery that organisations and the public will benefit from, such as analysing and modelling other types of land use and environmental change,” Phillip Lubeck says.

Below is an example comparison of the previous low-resolution imagery (left) and the new version high resolution version (right).

Spot spraying associated with recent forest planting is visible on the newly processed imagery, enabling increased confidence and accuracy of land management practices and ETS forest land status.

The imagery is hosted on https://basemaps.linz.govt.nz/ using Toitū Te Whenua’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) Registry of Open Data. As the lead agency for administering aerial imagery and custodians of the Crown Aerial Film Library, hosting by Toitū Te Whenua is a natural fit. Additionally, the public release of this imagery coincides with other high-resolution imagery made available on LINZ Basemaps.

While the primary purpose was to support the ETS, we anticipate the imagery will be used for a broad range of applications by government, councils, businesses, universities and the public. Making the imagery publicly available and consumable for GIS applications were requirements for this project, so we are thankful for Toitū Te Whenua’s efforts to make this a reality.

We will look to process and publish more historic imagery on LINZ Basemaps in future.

Source: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service

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M-Planter economic performance report results

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

A new report discusses the exploration of mechanised planting options by New Zealand forestry companies in response to anticipated changes in labour availability and increased competition for planting crews due to afforestation incentives.

This new detailed report, led by Scion, outlines qualitatively and quantitatively an assessment on the performance of the M-Planter planting radiata pine seedlings into New Zealand rotational cutover areas.

It is based on the experiences of MFM (NZ), Rayonier and Timberlands across a range of soil types, terrain and weather conditions. This evaluation was conducted as part of the Precision Silviculture Programme which is managed by Forest Growers Research. The full report from FGR can be accessed here.

Discussion on mechanisation and automation across forestry were a strong focus at the FGR conference held in Rotorua in mid-September.

Results from trials and commercial operations using mechanised planting machines, both in New Zealand and Australia, will also be featuring in the upcoming ForestTECH 2023 series running in Rotorua on 14-15 November and again in Melbourne on 21-22 November. Full programme details for both countries can be found on the event website.

Source: Forest Growers Research, FIEA

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XFrame recognised at 2023 KiwiNet Awards

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Winners of the 11th annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards were celebrated at a gala event in Auckland last week for their success in transforming research into impactful innovations for the world. Winners, chosen from the passionate people and teams commercialising scientific discoveries within New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations, represent the best of the research innovation ecosystem.

Winners included innovations for reusable framing for sustainable construction and hydrogen production tech, and innovators transforming Aotearoa New Zealand’s clean tech economy, simplifying the manufacture of important biologic pharmaceuticals, and developing natural menstrual care products.

The commercialisation impact award celebrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and the potential for generating significant economic impact for New Zealand. The winner of the MAS Commercialisation Impact Award was XFrame and Wellington UniVentures: Reusable framing for the next generation of sustainable construction.

Approximately half of all New Zealand’s waste—about 1.6 million tonnes every year—is generated by the construction sector. XFrame, a game-changing framing system, has the potential to eliminate waste and reduce the raw materials used by the building industry. Every component of the XFrame system is designed to be disassembled 40% faster than conventional building methods and reused at the end of the building lifecycle —an architectural solution promising to transition the building sector to a circular economy without compromising the growth and development of communities.

Developed by Ged Finch while completing his Master’s in Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington, XFrame has experienced rapid growth supported by investment, expertise and connections through Wellington UniVentures, KiwiNet and Innovyz. Since its spin-out in 2019, XFrame has closed three successful capital raises and delivered projects to tier one customers in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Brazil.

In its first year of public sales, XFrame kept six tonnes of construction waste out of the landfill and sequestered 35 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Now fast approaching broad market release, and with revenues increasing 14-fold, XFrame is a stellar example of a commercialisation project made possible by ecosystem support, scaling rapidly with huge potential for impact.

For further coverage of the awards, click here

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Biomass system selection – start with the fuel

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The number of possible biomass fuels and fuel mixes utilizing waste “opportunity” fuels for a biomass energy system is large and continues to change and grow.  When you include the variabilities imposed by varying soil and climate conditions for agricultural wastes and varying feed for animals that results in changing animal waste fuels, the variability is almost limitless. 

One approach that is consistently tried is to take a combustion technology and try to make that combustion technology work for all fuels.  This “one solution fits all” approach often results in unsatisfactory results.  We would argue that the best way to design and optimize biomass energy systems is to start with the fuel and then to smartly apply the best fuel conversion technology.

Successful conversion of biomass fuels includes all of the elements that go into an efficient and smoothly functioning plant, including but not limited to, the areas of fuel receiving, sizing, possible densification, storage, reclaim, delivery to the boiler and metering into the boiler followed by controlled combustion or gasification, ash handling including disposal or sale, and finally air emission controls.  These separate systems make up a unified system where if any one of them is failing to perform it usually means the plant is down.

In order to design these systems, one needs to know as much information as possible about the fuel itself, including its size distribution (dust to large pieces), shape (evenly shaped particles to strings, sticks or leaves), structure (crystalline, amorphous), bulk density and chemical analysis, as well as information about where it was produced.

Analysis of the fuel including proximate and ultimate analysis that includes elements and compounds often not reported such as chlorine and detailed mineral analysis of the ash.  These results should also be reported in both “as-received” and “dry” condition.  While published information is very useful as a general guide and for initial discussions of possible energy conversion projects, it should be noted that standard published information is not adequate for initial feasibility studies, and certainly not for final design.  The possibility for wide variations from standard published information is vast.  For example, biomass fuels grown in the lateritic soils of West Africa will vary significantly from the same species of plant grown in Europe or Asia.

A recent example would be East Energy Renewables in North Carolina.  The challenge here was to convert hundreds of thousands of annual tons of poultry litter from numerous North Carolina poultry growers into steam, renewable energy and heat. 

POULTRY LITTER FUEL CONSIDERATIONS:

Moisture and Heating Value – Conservative sized single pass furnace with lower heat release and furnace exit gas temperature, along with heated air for combustion

Size Distribution – Effectively proven stoker grate combustion and individual feeders

High Alkali (Na + K) – Fouling considerations including wide tube pitch on heat recovery surface components, low flue gas velocities, and strategically placed sootblowers

High Ash Content and Characteristics – Traveling grate, oversized bottom ash chute and collection conveyors, and some design considerations as high alkali

The effects of fouling and corrosion influence – all facets of the boiler design, including the furnace sizing, flue gas velocities, tube spacing and materials

THE SOLUTION:

Included for two (2) separate locations in NC, design and supply a conservatively sized grate stoker furnace for combustion with wide tube spacing for cleaning, and waste heat capture for adjacent waste water treatment plant.

Boiler Capacity (per site)85,000 PPH
Steam Pressure300 psig
Steam Temperature422 deg F Saturated
FuelsPoultry Litter (Chicken & Turkey)
Combustion TechnologyTraveling Grate Stoker
Emissions ControlsSNCR, Mechanical Dust Collector, Dry Sorbent Injection (DSI), Baghouse
ScopePower Island EPC Project
Schedule21 months
CODApril 2024

Wellons is proud to provide East Energy Renewables with a successful thoughtfully-considered solution.

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OptiCept agreement with Chilean forestry company

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The Swedish PlantTech company OptiCept Technologies has entered an agreement with the Chilean forestry company CMPC. Cuttings will now be boosted with nutrients using a unique vacuum impregnation technology called OptiBoost.

During a couple of weeks this spring, the Chilean company CMPC have evaluated the technologies effect in their nursery. As a result, they now enter a long-term partnership with the Swedish company behind the technology.

The Optiboost technology is a symbiosis of two technologies, vacuum impregnation and nanotechnology. Cuttings are impregnated with a functionalized nutrient solution based on the third generation of patented nanotechnology. The process is executed in a small vacuum chamber that can manage up to 15,000 cuttings per hour. The OptiBoost vacuum impregnation (VI) is done with the purpose to improve the rooting and growth of cuttings and thereby decreases losses of eucalyptus and tropical clone cuttings propagation.

The parties have entered into a commercial agreement for OptiBoost for cuttings that runs over 6 years. The focus in 2024 is on the treatment of high-yielding cuttings and on developing the concept together with CMPC towards their annual production of 20 million cuttings. CMPC is the first commercial agreement signed. Two more forest companies are currently evaluating the method in South America and one in China.

CMPC is one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. The company has 17,000 employees and is a listed company with a turnover of approx. 6.5 billion Euros in 2021. The business includes Forestry, pulp, paper and paper products. The company plants around 20 million cuttings annually.

Source: OptiCept

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Hybridised drivetrains & electrification of tower yarders?

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Researchers examined the potential of hybridized drivetrains for tower yarder applications.

Radical changes are necessary to address challenges related to global warming and pollution. Ever-tightening emission standards for combustion engines have already led to a drastic reduction in the amount of harmful gas and matter emitted.

Drivetrain hybridization and electrification, which are becoming increasingly popular in all sectors, are two additional ways to achieve that goal. However, within the forestry sector most of the equipment still rely on conventional mechanic or hydraulic drivetrains. An example of this is tower yarders, the workhorse of the steep terrain logging industry.

This research simulated the duty cycle and energy flow of tower yarders in logging operations, both with conventional diesel–hydraulic configuration and a proposed hybrid configuration. The objective was to determine the potential of hybridized drivetrains for tower yarder applications. Detailed models were developed to describe the cable-based extraction of timber and tower yarder internal processes. Extensive simulations were performed to determine force, power and energy components during the harvesting operation for both the diesel–hydraulic and hybrid drivetrains.

Results confirm the large potential of the hybrid configuration for efficiency improvement and emission reduction, with estimated fuel savings of 45% and 63% in the uphill and downhill configurations, respectively. Extensive sensitivity analysis further demonstrates that the hybrid concept remains effective across a wide range of cable setup and transport characteristics. This confirms the large potential of electrified drivetrains, especially in the presence of very dynamic duty cycles, as is the case in cable-based logging equipment.

This research was titled ” Tower yarder powertrain performance simulation analysis: electrification study” and was published in the European Journal of Forest Research. The researchers were Stefan Leitner, Manuel Antonio Perez Estevez, Massimiliano Renzi, Raffaele Spinelli, Fabrizio Mazzetto & Renato Vidoni.

The report along with more detailed information on the research can be found here.

Source: springer.com

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Yellow jerseys of the fireline: A day fighting wildfires

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

For three weeks in July, the world’s most elite bike racers climb steep mountains and sprint along historic cobblestones to capture the coveted yellow jersey or the race leader in the Tour de France. It’s a 22-day feat of human endurance that requires constant eating and drinking to manage the average daily energy demand of about 6,000 calories, equivalent to around 12 McDonald’s Happy Meals, and just over 1.5 gallons of water.

Nearly 5,000 miles away in the mountains of North America, radios crackle with chatter from a wildfire incident command post, air operations and other crews fighting a wildfire. Up the fireline, the swings of Pulaskis, axlike hand tools, are carving a fuel break into the land. The weather forecast predicts a high of nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) with wind, a combination that can push the fire high up into the canopy of dense lodgepole pines on the mountainside.

The yellow jerseys here are sooty, sweat-stained and flame-resistant, with a strong, earthy odour. Hotshot crews like this one are the elite workforce of the forest, and the demand on their bodies can rival that of the cyclists in the Tour de France, as recent research shows.

On this morning, the Hotshot crew has already hiked 3 miles up steep, uneven terrain and built nearly 1,200 feet of fire line. It is not yet 10 a.m. The day is just beginning, the first day of a 14-day rollout.

Measured with the same techniques used to quantify the energy demands of Tour de France riders, wildland firefighters demonstrate an average total energy expenditure approaching 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day. Some days can exceed the Tour’s average of about 6,000 calories. Add to that a daily water need of 1.5 to over 2 gallons.

This isn’t just for a few days. Fire season in the western United States can last five months or more, with most Hotshot crews accumulating four to five times the number of operational days of the 22-day Tour de France and over 1,000 hours of overtime.

Every year, on average, about 60,000 wildfires will burn across roughly 70 million acres in the western U.S. Drying grasses and forests create fuel for the spark of a lightning strike, power line or carelessly abandoned campfire, and windy summer weather can spread that into a blaze. When those fires could threaten communities, the Hotshots are mobilized.

Impact on the wildland firefighter’s body

As the work shift progresses, the Hotshots constantly monitor their surroundings and self-regulate nutrient and fluid intake, knowing their shift will last 12 to 16 hours. During intense activity in high heat, their fluid intake can increase to 32 ounces per hour or more.

The highest-intensity activity is generally during the early morning hike to the fire line. However, the metabolic demands can sharply increase if crews are forced into a rapid emergency evacuation from the fire, as more than 25 years of wildland firefighter physiology research shows.

The most effective way for wildland firefighters to stay fuelled is to eat small meals frequently throughout the work shift, similar to the patterns perfected by riders in the Tour. This preserves cognitive health, helping firefighters stay focused and sharp for making potentially lifesaving decisions and keenly aware of their ever-dynamic surroundings, and boosts work performance. It also helps slow the depletion of important muscle fuel.

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Source: theconversation

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Hydrogen powered muscle truck: The future’s HERE!

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

For all of you petrol heads out there. Hydrogen is already making itself felt with hydrogen and dual fuel (hydrogen-diesel) trucks being rolled out onto NZ roads. Check this video out supplied by one of our readers.

Mike Copeland of Arrington Performance has been around the auto industry a long time. 25 years at General Motors doing special projects Mike has gathered the connections to create the world’s first functional Hydrogen powered Chevrolet LS Swap that has passed the EPA testing!

This truck sounds and drives exactly like a conventional gasoline powered hot rod but with zero C02 emissions!

While naysayers have given hydrogen bad press, that did not deter Mike and his friends at Bosch from doing the R&D to figure out this package. Someday in the near future you will be able to convert your existing vehicle to renewable Hydrogen power! Mike explains to us how that will be possible in this video!

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ForestTECH 2023 Student Competition

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

This year for the first time, a student competition has been set up for the NZ leg of the ForestTECH 2023 series by Tools for Foresters, the Forest Industry Engineering Association and Forest Growers Research. It builds on the level of interest being shown by the forest industry in using UAV’s for collecting detailed data for tree crop management and for operational planning. 

A selected number of students from the University of Canterbury and Toi Ohomai will be undertaking their own research projects on different methods for conducting tree survival surveys using UAVs. The research efforts are being coordinated by Scion and Tools for Foresters. 

The reports from each of the students will each be assessed by an industry panel before ForestTECH 2023 runs with a final presentation and grading, live, given by Rotorua conference delegates on Tuesday 14 November 2023. All three students will also be expanding on their data capture methodology in a post-conference industry workshop planned for day two of the event.

The prize for the best project is an amazing DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise, the very latest generation in portable drones for land and resource management valued at $7,000 kindly donated by Ferntech, local drone specialists. 

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Australian Timber Market Survey report released

In WoodTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The latest edition of the quarterly Timber Market Survey (TMS) report has been
released for the June quarter 2023.

Softwood timber products – Quarterly

  • Prices for untreated MGP structural timber products remained relatively stable, ranging between -0.1% lower and no change.
  • Price movements for treated outdoor products varied slightly and were as much as -0.1% lower.
  • Price movements for MDF and particleboard products were mixed, between -0.2% and 0.9%, while plywood prices moved downwards by as much as -1.5%.
  • Prices for LVL and I-joist/I-beam products continued to decline, with price movements between -3.9% and -5.6%.

Hardwood timber products – Six monthly

  • Price movements for kiln dried structural hardwood products were upwards, between 1.6% and 2.4%.
  • Price movements for hardwood flooring products were mostly upwards, between 0.7% and 3.4%.

The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.

The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by ten major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; Sustainable Timber Tasmania; Southern Cross Forests; and ACT Parks and Conservation Service.

Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey
report is available here:

Source: Indufor

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Tasman region forestry study important for the industry

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

A seven-year forestry study looking at the impact of sediment in rivers from harvesting and earthworks has entered its fifth year. The NZ$2.7 million study is jointly funded by Ministry for Primary Industries through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and OneFortyOne New Zealand Forests. The work is being done in two forested catchments located in OneFortyOne’s Donald Creek Forest near Tadmor in the Tasman district, New Zealand.

Jo Field, OneFortyOne’s Environment Manager, said the study compares sediment from a harvested area with a non-harvested area, exploring the effectiveness of forestry erosion sediment control measures as well as looking at opportunities to improve practice. The study is being conducted in two forested catchments located in OneFortyOne’s Donald Creek Forest near Tadmor in the Tasman district. The comparative catchments are adjoining and of similar size, area, geology and topography, and planted in Pinus radiata of similar age.

“Before the study started, we researched suitable locations, and we landed on Donald Creek as it represents the soil type found in a significant portion of our forests the region.” Jo says. The long-term study works with Moutere gravels, which is a relatively stable soil type with a high clay content.

The sediment control practices focus on reducing sediment into streams from disturbed ground (through earthworks and harvesting) as well as measuring water turbidity, the amount of fine sediment on and in the streambeds, and collecting stream habitat, algae cover, invertebrate, and fish data.

Most sediment will be ‘delivered’ during storms, so the focus of the project is on collecting good-quality, storm-related suspended sediment data from the pre-harvest to the post-harvest period. The project will quantify how much sediment can be prevented from leaving a harvesting site using sediment control practices.

“The current phase of the study is measuring post-harvest sediment load changes and impacts using current best practice sediment control techniques, alongside freshwater monitoring data collected throughout the study,” Jo said. “This year we reached a significant milestone for the project. We were able to analyse and compare the data from a catchment that has been recently harvested with data from the control (unharvested) catchment.

Interim results show that sediment loads are higher in the post-harvest catchment than in the control catchment. This is expected for the post-harvest area as there are extensive earthworks associated with roads and landings and it no longer has the tree canopy to reduce the impact of rain on the soils and stream, however the groundcover vegetation does develop rapidly. Importantly, the higher sediment loads in the stream appear to be from in-channel processes and not so much from the harvested area.

“Despite the sediment loads being higher after harvesting, there has been no quantitative or anecdotal evidence to suggest any impact on water quality or habitat in the Tadmor River downstream.

“This is a valuable opportunity to test the performance of current and new in-forest sediment management techniques – and we are grateful to work alongside Cawthron Institute, Envirolink, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research as well as the Ministry for Primary Industries. This is important work, which we’ll be able to share widely with the forestry sector and other stakeholders,” said Jo.

Source: OneFortyOne

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Komatsu Forest appoints new Australian Sales Manager

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Komatsu Forest has appointed Dean O’Connor National Sales Manager for Australia. He will also retain responsibility for Komatsu Forest operations in New Zealand.

Dean is an experienced timber industry professional who has been in the industry since the early nineties. In 1995 he became the Product Support Manager for Timberjack covering the Asia Pacific & South African region and then in 2001 was appointed as the General Manager Waratah in Australia.

Komatsu Forest Australia first recruited Dean in early 2004 to look after the international business in S.E. Asia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Then in 2006 Dean took up a company transfer to the USA to set up the new West Coast Attachments Division for Komatsu Forest America and then returned to New Zealandin 2009 where he assumed General Manager’s role for Komatsu Forest in NZ.

Dean made a company change in late 2015 to become involved with the new innovations in steep slope logging as General Manager at EMS Ltd NZ. He rejoined the Komatsu group in 2018 with the responsibility of the SouthStar product in the Asia Pacific region shortly after Komatsu acquired the company. Now withDean’s return to Australia he takes up the National Sales Manager role within the Komatsu Forest Australia organisation.

Brenton Yon has also stepped down from National Sales Manager’s position after dedicating over thirty years to the role, but he will remain a part of the senior management team assuming responsibility for the growing market of the Aztec – Peterson range of Grinders & Chippers for Aust & NZ. Brenton will also be supporting the SA & WA sales regions.

Source: Komatsu Forest

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The trees come back – looking back 42 years

In HarvestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Some of the worst eroded pasture land in New Zealand can be seen in the East Cape region of the North Island. This film, produced 42 years ago, explains in detail how the problem arose, starting with the European settlement in the late 1890s when the natural forests were destroyed to make way for farmland. This destruction, coupled with high rainfall and land that was naturally unstable, led to spectacular erosion.

The film describes how the then New Zealand Forest Service established the East Cape forests of Mangatu and Ruatoria. The large plantation forests of radiata pine have helped to stabilise the land and provided employment for the inhabitants of the East Cape region. The film also shows that, by measuring land movement on planted and unplanted slopes, Forest Research Institute scientists have been able to produce geological maps and a system of land classification based on slope stability.

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Fire – and the role of Australia’s eucalyptus tree?

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Portugal, Greece, Spain, Chile, California and now Hawaii have all battled wildfires this year as high temperatures and strong winds have whipped small sparks into violent infernos. But fire needs fuel, and what these places also have in common is an invasive species — Australia’s eucalyptus tree.

It comes from the oldest continent in the world and it can grow in even the driest of places. For more than 200 years, seeds of the eucalyptus tree have been planted beyond the bounds of Australia’s coastline. It has been cultivated around the world, making a new home in southern Europe, South America, parts of Africa, the west coast of the United States, and even parts of South-East Asia.

But there is now a debate over whether this tree has been worth the industry and habitat it provides. Eucalyptus trees mature fast. And in Portugal, as they grew, so too did a lucrative paper industry. In Chile, rapidly expanding plantations of introduced eucalyptus and pine species feed a $9 billion forestry industry.

In California, the Tasmanian blue gum has become a shady home to birdlife, treasured by some communities, but feared by others. Because the eucalyptus tree loves fire and fire loves it. And now, as temperatures across the globe increase and the Earth’s relationship with fire continues to distort, there are places where Australia’s eucalyptus tree has become a problem.

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Source: ABC

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Battery factory opened to meet 50% electric target

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Whilst Scania are not the only truck manufacturer moving towards electrification of their model range, they are one of the leaders.

In fact, they are targeting 50% of their vehicle sales to be battery-powered by 2030. TheDriven reported back in 2022 on Scania’s push into electrification and their new electric models coming out in Europe. With that expansion into battery electric also comes the need to expand and build facilities to enable that growth.

To that end, Scania have just opened a new battery factory in Södertälje (Sweden). The factory will take battery cells produced jointly by Scania and Northvolt in northern Sweden and assemble them into modules and then into battery packs, to be transferred to the assembly line which is located within the same production precinct.

The shift to electrified solutions is the biggest transformation in the history of transport, and 2023 is the year when it truly takes off,” Christian Levin, President and CEO Scania and Traton Group is quoted as saying.

The installed capacity at the factory allows it to handle one battery cell every second, while a battery pack is produced every four minutes. The module line is fully automated with 38 robots doing the work. The pack line is around 50 percent automated, with 34 robots and employees working together. The assembled packs form battery systems tailored for Scania’s modular vehicle manufacturing. At full capacity, the factory will a total of 550 staff.

The assembly plant will work around the clock to supply the chassis production line with the batteries it needs. A typical truck could contain up to 1,000 battery cells formed into modules and packs, which can weigh up to 1200 kg. The battery packs are expected to power the truck they are installed in for around 1.5 million km, which is Scania’s expected lifetime for an ‘average’ truck.

Source: The Driven

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Early EOI – Wood Transport & Logistics 2024

In Wood Transport by innovatek

This year, well over 250 forestry and log transport delegates from companies across Australasia, North and South America and Europe met up in Rotorua, New Zealand. The occasion? The long overdue Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 conference, workshops and exhibitions.

With so much effort going into larger transport companies decarbonising their fleets and innovation and early adoption of electric, hydrogen and dual-fuel hybrid technologies by log transport operators in this part of the world, the Rotorua venue, inside and outside (see images from 2023) was packed. The place was humming.

Feedback from speakers, delegates and exhibitors from the 2023 event overwhelmingly were looking for another technology update in 2024. The drivers? The sheer pace of change with new and emerging technologies, the operational and commercial trials underway by local heavy transport fleets and the rapid deployment of this technology into forests and wood cartage operations all meant another industry get-together was being sought – one year on.

And, we’re delivering. Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 is planned to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024.

Pace of change dramatic:

The uptake of electric vehicles into heavy transport operations is really picking up speed. The global electric truck market was valued at US$728 million in 2022. Between 2023 and 2032, the electric truck market is estimated to show a compound annual growth rate of 31.3 % and will reach US$11.08 billion over this time.

Electric trucks are replacing diesel trucks. In many countries, a raft of government initiatives and financial assistance are promoting their adoption. Market growth is being spurred on by rising demand for logistics services, lower fuel costs, and maintenance expenses. Moreover, there are incentives to use zero-emission vehicles. As well as new battery technologies, the development of automated battery swapping hubs and the roll out of charging infrastructure across the country is also encouraging the switch from diesel to electric.

Hydrogen and dual fuel hybrid trucks likewise have been out on local roads. Larger fleet operators are upgrading and transitioning their fleets. High-capacity hydrogen refuelling sites across multiple regions have also recently been set up to service these new trucks.

Along with rapid advances being made in log transport fuelling options, significant advancements in just 12 months have been made in truck convoy platooning, single-vehicle autonomous operations, off-road AV driving technology, systems for log measurement and new log transport safety initiatives. Improved connectivity being rolled out for more remote sites has also led to unprecedented innovation being seen in moving logs through the wood supply chain. And recently, the new fuelling technologies are also moving up the wood supply chain, into wood harvesting machines out in the forest.

Planned format for Wood Transport & Logistics 2024As part of the revolution to move forest harvesting and log transport operations towards a low emissions future, a raft of new innovations and results from commercial and operational trials across Australasia are now ready to be shared. Wood Transport & Logistics in May 2024 will again be providing that independent platform for local businesses.

Early Expressions of Interest to present:

If interested in presenting next May, early expressions of interest are being sought from log haulage companies, forest companies, equipment and technology suppliers, researchers … If keen, or looking for further information on Wood Transport & Logistics 2024, please contact FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp on brent.apthorp@fiea.org.nz

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Fabrum to supply 1MW hydrogen refuelling station

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Fabrum to supply 1MW electrolyser Hydrogen Refuelling Station package for hydrogen production and dispensing, with a unique double pressure system for cars and trucks – a first for New Zealand

New Zealand company Fabrum, a world leader in zero-emission transition technologies to enable a lower-carbon economy, has been selected by Japan-based Obayashi Corporation as the supplier of a Hydrogen Refuelling Station (HRS) package for a refuelling station project in Auckland. Fabrum has several other green hydrogen projects under construction internationally.

Fabrum’s flagship 1MW electrolyser Hydrogen Refuelling Station enables hydrogen production via electrolysis and renewable power. The system utilises Fabrum’s cryogenic technologies alongside a Membrane-Free Electrolyser (“MFE”), developed by UK-based CPH2 and manufactured under agreement by Fabrum, to create a hydrogen production system.

In a first for Fabrum and New Zealand, the Hydrogen Refuelling Station in Auckland will feature a unique dual pressure dispensing system that enables the refuelling at 350 bar and 700 bar. Fabrum is supportive of Obayashi‘s approach to providing the multiple options for potential customers in emerging hydrogen mobility.

Source: Fabrum

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The commercial transport revolution – it’s underway

In Wood Transport by innovatek

Advanced technology will pave the way to exceed what was previously thought possible.

The commercial transportation industry faces rapidly changing regulations and evolving customer needs. Cummins examines the future of commercial transportation, and indicates that it will be shaped by three perspectives: a shifting energy mix, innovations in software, and evolving use cases driven by autonomous driving and vehicle-as-a-service (VaaS).

The commercial transportation sector has already begun a rapid period of software development, helping fleets avoid accidents, optimize their fuel usage, and identify the best routes. Going forward, safety will continue to be paramount; meanwhile, connectivity and software development will revolutionize condition monitoring and performance optimization. This revolution will take place at three levels: asset-level, system-level, and intermodal.

In the near future, asset-level connectivity will continue to be under a spotlight. For example, Cummins is already testing prognostic algorithms that leverage massive amounts of data to move customers away from reactive service models to predictive, planned maintenance. The idea is this: sensors in the vehicle monitor the way equipment is performing and report abnormalities. This allows potential issues to be detected early enough that the necessary action can be taken, either through over-the-air updates or at the next scheduled maintenance, so unplanned downtime is reduced, increasing the availability and reliability of the equipment.

Soon, we will see an increased focus on system-level connectivity, where emphasis will expand to managing the complete fleet and system elements such as distribution centres and refuelling stations. With this, we will see the sector continue to drive automated decision making through an increased reliance on harnessing real time data and computing capabilities.

Finally, intermodal connectivity will connect different modes of transportation. This will create a commercial transportation eco-system where individual assets among different modes of transportation such as road, rail, sea, and air are connected and operate in harmony. One of the things common between autonomous trucking and VaaS (Vehicle as a service) is they may both drive an evolution among commercial transportation use-cases, but at different scales.

Autonomous trucking may have more profound impact on transportation, as more vehicles start to communicate with each other and with infrastructure elements such as traffic signals and depots. A key outcome of the rise of autonomous trucking could be the competitiveness of trucking against other modes of transportation such as rail. Autonomous trucking could also impact the financials of the industry; as these vehicles will be highly utilized, which could lead to shorter replenishment cycles and lower volumes of vehicles to own. As the safety considerations are getting addressed, this and the increasing focus on system-level connectivity will also continue to shape the role of the drivers in autonomous vehicles.

Vehicle-as-a-service, on the other hand, may have a limited impact in commercial transportation. VaaS, which mirrors the efficiency model used by Uber and Airbnb, primarily relies on under-utilized assets. Meanwhile, commercial transportation is inherently different from privately-owned cars and homes, where a wealth of these under-utilized assets exists. In commercial transportation, there is not a large reserve of under-utilized assets. There may be use-cases where a combination of VaaS and advanced autonomy (without a driver) could address chronic driver shortage issues. Meanwhile, for fleets where utilization rates are already very high and access to finances is not an issue, the impact of VaaS will be limited.

Commercial transportation is certainly in a period of rapid change, but the sector has always pushed hard to ensure it would meet the needs of society. Today, those needs are increasingly demanding, and technology will once again rise to the challenge.

Source: Cummins.com

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Wood-fired hospital boilers replace coal

In Wood Residues by innovatek

South Invercargill residents can breathe a little easier, with Southland Hospital’s massive boilers now fired by wood pellets instead of coal. The conversion took effect in September. The hospital’s two 4.5 megawatt boilers run 24 hours and 365 days a year, providing steam which circulates around the hospital site, providing heating and sterilisation of equipment.

EECA [Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority] said the replacement of a coal-fired boiler with a wood pellet-fired boiler would reduce its overall emissions by up to 99 per cent.“The combined emissions reduction of the Southland Hospital project is expected to be 5217 tonnes of CO2 each year, which is the equivalent to removing about 2146 cars off the road.”

Great South strategic projects manager Steve Canny welcomed the burning of wood pellets instead of coal to fire the hospital’s boilers, both from a decarbonisation and community health perspective. Coal emissions generated from the hospital boilers had an impact on community health, Canny said.

“Any form of particulates from coal-fired combustion into a residential community has an effect on air quality, which in turn has an effect on people’s health. Having coal out of the system, and wood biomass used, will improve air quality in the south Invercargill area,” he said.

Great South has been advocating for decarbonisation in the region, with Canny saying about 90 boilers in Southland had been converted to low emission alternatives. The owners of the remaining 100 boilers were planning to do likewise, he said.

More >>

Source: Stuff

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Best Practice Study Tour grant awarded

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The WIDE Trust is excited to announce Rachel Millar as the latest recipient of a Best Practice Study Tour grant. This grant will enable Rachel to embark on an international journey, delving into cutting-edge practices and innovations in the forestry and wood processing industries. As we celebrate Rachel’s achievements, we want to remind everyone that applications for a Best Practice Study Tour grant remain open at all times, providing a rare opportunity for others to apply and follow in Rachel’s footsteps.

Meet Rachel Millar: A Visionary Environmental Manager

Rachel Millar works as the Environmental Manager for the New Zealand Forest Owners Association ((FOA) and the Forest Growers Levy Trust (FGLT)). Her dedication is highlighted by her co-ordination of the FOA submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and Wairoa – demonstrating her commitment to developing comprehensive solutions for managing environmental impacts. Rachel’s multifaceted role within FOA/FGLT involves providing advice to boards, engaging with stakeholders, and promoting work on sustainable best practices that contribute to industry growth.

A Compelling Business Case for a Study Tour

Rachel’s application to the WIDE Trust for a Best Practice Study Tour grant is driven by a compelling business case that revolves around two key study themes.

The first centres on solutions for woody debris and sediment management, directly tied to the outcomes of the Ministerial Inquiry. Drawing upon her involvement in the FOA submission into the inquiry, Rachel seeks to gain insights from international counterparts who have effectively managed similar environmental challenges. Her goal is to bolster the forestry sector’s response to the inquiry’s recommendations and ensure evidence-based decisions lead to optimal outcomes for both the industry, our taiao (environment) and the affected communities.

The second theme focuses on addressing the social licence crisis currently faced by New Zealand’s forestry sector following Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. This crisis underscores the importance of enhancing public perception and navigating backlash related to environmental impacts. By exploring successful strategies employed by other nations, Rachel aims to equip the forestry sector with the tools needed to regain public trust and build a stronger social licence to operate.

A Global Perspective Study Tour Proposal

Rachel’s study tour itinerary well-considered, encompassing several priority locations that hold the potential to provide valuable insights for the New Zealand forestry sector. Her proposed destinations include:

1. Pacific Northwest, United States: This region’s forest harvesting practices on steep slopes mirror the settings found in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne, Wairoa, and other New Zealand locations. Rachel aims to learn from the prescriptive regulations, good practice guidelines, and innovative biodiversity protection measures in place.

2. Southeast United States: Given the vulnerability of forest ecosystems to climate variability, this area offers valuable lessons in adaptive management and strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change on forests.

3. Tasmania, Australia: With similar challenges to New Zealand, Tasmania’s forestry practices, including the Forest Practices Authority’s successful implementation of clear operational standards, serve as a beneficial framework for addressing issues such as social licence and environmental performance.

4. Chile and Brazil, South America: Both nations provide unique insights into mixed forest management, remediation of degraded land, and the harmonious coexistence of production and conservation in the forestry sector.

Anticipating Positive Impact

Rachel’s study tour itinerary isn’t just about personal growth—it’s about creating a positive impact on New Zealand’s forestry sector as a whole. By sharing her learnings with the Forestry Sector Environment Committee, FOA and FGLT boards, wood councils, and other relevant stakeholders, Rachel aims to catalyse positive change.

Rachel’s application highlights the immense potential of the WIDE Trust’s Best Practice Study Tour grant to shape the future of forestry and wood industries in New Zealand. If you’re passionate about exploring innovative practices, learning from international counterparts, and making a positive impact on the sector, we encourage you to apply for this transformative opportunity. Applications for a Best Practice Study Tour grant are open year-round, ensuring individuals with a vision for progress always have a chance to contribute to the industry’s growth and sustainability.

Source: The WIDE Trust

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Bay of Plenty now mapped with LiDAR

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

There is a new way to see the Bay of Plenty, following the completion of a project to map the region in 3D using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) elevation data, which is now available through Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand.

Made possible by the Provincial Growth Fund, the project has improved Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s ability to model natural hazards and climate change, design better infrastructure and improve environmental outcomes for the region.

The region now joins several others in New Zealand to have full LiDAR coverage, which has already proven to be useful in the mahi the Regional Council is doing, says Glen Clarkin, Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Enterprise Systems Manager, who leads Geospatial services for the organisation.

“For a region like ours, where work such as flood modelling is hugely important, it means we have accurate information about the ground terrain, which in turn means we’re better able to model where we think water may flow. From here we can look at where flood protection might be best placed, and which areas will be at greatest risk of flooding.”

Mr Clarkin said that was just one way the information will be used by the Regional Council. “Catchment mapping, understanding and preparing for natural hazards, helping us better understand the history of the region we live in, and planning for climate change are all key benefits of us having access to this data.”

The information also has benefits for local industry. Stakeholders in such industries as agriculture, engineering and forestry are using this information to gain a deeper understanding of the environments they operate in, improving their decision-making processes and contributing to improved outcomes. The project also received support from the Bay of Plenty Local Authority Shared Service (BOPLASS) group. This has enabled the data to be shared between all councils in the region within existing Long Term Plan budgets.

LiDAR covering 50 percent of New Zealand is now freely available, and this figure is expected to grow to 80 percent nationally next year, when the PGF-LiDAR project is complete. The data is publicly available at LINZ Data Service.

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Yellow jerseys of the fireline: A day fighting wildfires

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

For three weeks in July, the world’s most elite bike racers climb steep mountains and sprint along historic cobblestones to capture the coveted yellow jersey or the race leader in the Tour de France. It’s a 22-day feat of human endurance that requires constant eating and drinking to manage the average daily energy demand of about 6,000 calories, equivalent to around 12 McDonald’s Happy Meals, and just over 1.5 gallons of water.

Nearly 5,000 miles away in the mountains of North America, radios crackle with chatter from a wildfire incident command post, air operations and other crews fighting a wildfire. Up the fireline, the swings of Pulaskis, axlike hand tools, are carving a fuel break into the land. The weather forecast predicts a high of nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) with wind, a combination that can push the fire high up into the canopy of dense lodgepole pines on the mountainside.

The yellow jerseys here are sooty, sweat-stained and flame-resistant, with a strong, earthy odour. Hotshot crews like this one are the elite workforce of the forest, and the demand on their bodies can rival that of the cyclists in the Tour de France, as recent research shows.

On this morning, the Hotshot crew has already hiked 3 miles up steep, uneven terrain and built nearly 1,200 feet of fire line. It is not yet 10 a.m. The day is just beginning, the first day of a 14-day rollout.

Measured with the same techniques used to quantify the energy demands of Tour de France riders, wildland firefighters demonstrate an average total energy expenditure approaching 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day. Some days can exceed the Tour’s average of about 6,000 calories. Add to that a daily water need of 1.5 to over 2 gallons.

This isn’t just for a few days. Fire season in the western United States can last five months or more, with most Hotshot crews accumulating four to five times the number of operational days of the 22-day Tour de France and over 1,000 hours of overtime.

Every year, on average, about 60,000 wildfires will burn across roughly 70 million acres in the western U.S. Drying grasses and forests create fuel for the spark of a lightning strike, power line or carelessly abandoned campfire, and windy summer weather can spread that into a blaze. When those fires could threaten communities, the Hotshots are mobilized.

Impact on the wildland firefighter’s body

As the work shift progresses, the Hotshots constantly monitor their surroundings and self-regulate nutrient and fluid intake, knowing their shift will last 12 to 16 hours. During intense activity in high heat, their fluid intake can increase to 32 ounces per hour or more.

The highest-intensity activity is generally during the early morning hike to the fire line. However, the metabolic demands can sharply increase if crews are forced into a rapid emergency evacuation from the fire, as more than 25 years of wildland firefighter physiology research shows.

The most effective way for wildland firefighters to stay fuelled is to eat small meals frequently throughout the work shift, similar to the patterns perfected by riders in the Tour. This preserves cognitive health, helping firefighters stay focused and sharp for making potentially lifesaving decisions and keenly aware of their ever-dynamic surroundings, and boosts work performance. It also helps slow the depletion of important muscle fuel.

More >>

Source: theconversation

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Testing hydrogel to extend the planting season

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Hydrogels which retain moisture around tree roots can aid seedling establishment and growth, and potentially extend the planting season beyond its traditional winter window.

As part of the Precision Silviculture Programme within Forest Growers Research, a trial to test a seaweed-based hydrogel was set up by a team from Scion together with Timberlands and contractor, H.A.Fear. The hydrogel was applied, and the trees planted, using a mechanical ‘M-Planter’ in Tarawera Forest in March 2022.

The site was renowned for its dry, difficult establishment conditions. On this occasion the hydrogel had no significant effect on tree survival, and only a minor positive impact on early growth, perhaps because the weather was unusually wet around planting time. The results from this first trial were outlined to local foresters as part of the ForestTECH 2022 series, both in New Zealand and Australia, that ran in November last year.

A second similar trial was planted with the M-Planter in December 2022 in collaboration with Rayonier-Matariki Forests to see whether hydrogel would increase survival over drier summer conditions. Again, the trial was compromised by unseasonably wet weather, however, the team learned a lot about the operation of the M-Planter in wet weather and clay soils.

The final report on the project can be read here.

A fundamental research trial on hydrogels, that removes the vagaries of the weather will continue because their use is closely aligned with mechanised planting. Extending the planting season is key to increasing planting machine utilisation, thereby improving the overall cost-effectiveness of mechanised operations.

Source: Forest Growers Research

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Mechanised planting results feature at ForestTECH 2023

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

The 2023 ForestTECH programme, consisting of pre-and-post conference workshops and meetings along with trade exhibitions has been designed with Australasian forestry companies. It’s now live.

Last year, well over 500 delegates from 15 different countries were involved in the on-line event run for the industry in February and the in-person end-of-year series that ran in both New Zealand and Australia in November 2022.

Details on the content and coverage for this year’s ForestTECH 2023 series running on the 14-15 November in Rotorua, NZ event and on 21-22 November 2023 in Melbourne, Australia the week after, can be found on www.foresttech.events/ft23

Like recent ForestTECH events, two key themes are being covered; (a) tree crop management, automated silviculture, including mechanised planting, thinning and pruning, forest establishment and (b) remote sensing, forest data capture and forest inventory management.

Of relevance to readers involved in forest establishment, this year’s series will be detailing lessons from mechanised or automated commercial operations being used for planting and silviculture.

Mechanised or machine planting is already successfully being used across Scandinavia, Brazil, the USA, Canada and more recently, New Zealand and Australia. Operational trials have successfully been undertaken in Australasia and now commercial planting is being undertaken in both the central North Island, New Zealand and in Victoria, Australia.

Key presentations at ForestTECH 2023 will include;

1. Lessons from two planting seasons in Victoria using a fully mechanised planting operation – results, lessons and payback from a forest owner’s and contractor’s perspective

2. A new concept in mechanised planting. Results from the first Australasian trials by Pan Pac Forest Products using the Swedish designed and produced PlantMax mechanised planter

3. Results from operational trials using remote controlled mechanised tree pruning

4. Using smart phone and drone collected data to improve the quality and productivity of Chilean mechanised thinning operations

For the first time in Australasia, a unique system of raising tree seedlings is also going to be unveiled to the local forestry industry. Using the concept of vertical farming systems (growing crops in vertically stacked layers), Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) who’re looking to plant tens of millions of new trees in the coming years, have trialled a new nursery system that’s going to enable them to meet their ambitious planting targets.

Both conifers and broadleaved species using this vertical “growing machine” have shown this system can produce seedlings six times faster than open grown stock. Both FLS and Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), the Edinburgh-based firm that has designed the system, will be presenting at the ForestTECH 2023 series in November.

For the full conference programme, information on pre-and post-conference workshops that have been opened to all ForestTECH 2023 delegates as well as information on a Remote Sensing Cluster Group meeting being held the day before the Rotorua event, can now be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events

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ForestTECH places for young graduates & students

In ForestTECH by innovatekLeave a Comment

Another opportunity (free stuff) is being offered with a free conference registration – up to five of them in fact – for this year’s ForestTECH 2023 event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 14-15 November 2023.

The Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) has again teamed up with the WIDE Trust, a charitable Trust formed in 2018 that supports the development and education in New Zealand’s forestry and wood industry sectors.

What’s being offered? To help out younger employees, recent graduates and new entrants into the industry, this arrangement enables up to five young employees, recent graduates or students in New Zealand to attend the major annual forest technology series, ForestTECH 2023 with all major conference expenses being paid.

ForestTECH 2023 will appeal to those involved in; tree crop management, automated silviculture, including mechanised planting, thinning and pruning, forest establishment, remote sensing, forest data capture and forest inventory management.Details for the November conference can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events/ft23.

Conditions: Applicants for the complimentary places have to be actively employed within the forestry, wood products or resource management industries or in a recognised training scheme, apprenticeship or course. The places are available only to those that haven’t yet registered to attend the conference. And, to ensure the package is targeting the right person, the applicants should also be 35 years or younger.

What do I do if interested? Places will be filled on a first in-first served basis, provided the eligibility criteria have been met. So, if keen on picking up one of these complimentary available spaces this year to the NZ leg of the ForestTECH 2023 series, please make contact with gordon.thomson@fiea.org.nz.