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Portland’s new airport project attracts the tradies

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 6 min ago
When Carpenters Local 1503 member William Smith got a chance to work reconstructing the Portland International Airport’s main terminal in Oregon USA, he left another job to take it. That’s because of the project’s centre piece: A mass timber roof made from Oregon-sourced wood. Sources: North West Labor Press, Timberbiz, photo zgf Architects Smith was lured to the airport project by its unique features, like working with 80-foot “glulams”— glue-laminated beams, some of which are nine feet wide. The roof also uses MPP (mass plywood panel), a large-format plywood. Beyond the technical novelties, Smith liked the longevity of the finished product. “This is a project that’s going to be here for a lifetime,” said Smith, who works for the construction contractor Swinerton. “You know, our kids’ kids’ kids may be walking through here.” Other union workers on the job feel the same. “I came out here because it’s a legacy project. Everyone we know is going to see it,” said Michael Peck, another Swinerton employee and member of Carpenters Local 1503. It’s different from most of his jobs, where the woodwork gets mostly covered by structural concrete. “You get to see your progress when you travel,” said Shikara White, a second-term apprentice with IBEW Local 48 who works for OEG. “It’s one of the few jobs that you can walk through and be like, ‘Oh, I did all the lights here. I worked on those escalators.’” The terminal roof is part of a five-year $2 billion upgrade that started in 2021. Building and installing the roof is a year-long phase of the terminal work, finishing late this year. Work will then pivot to the terminal’s interior. The airport upgrade also included a new Concourse B, which opened last year, and a reworked ground transportation hub. The roof is actually being built in 18 sections on the airfield. Workers poured a 10-inch-thick concrete slab and constructed double-girder support towers that hold the roof 13 feet off the ground. Building and installing separately allows workers to do the bulk of construction at 13 feet rather than its installed elevation of about 74 feet. “That makes it safer; it makes it a lot easier,” said Kama Simonds, spokesperson for the Port of Portland, which operates the airport. After construction of the roof sections is complete, an engineering firm will transport them across runways to the terminal (another massive undertaking). Carpenters receive prefabricated wood components that they assemble and move into place, another feature of mass-timber construction. Swinerton worker Nick Phelan, a Carpenters Local 1503 member, says it’s like assembling a giant piece of IKEA furniture. It requires some tweaking to make everything fit properly, but the materials are straightforward to work with. Phelan says it’s easier to work with than concrete, with fewer on-the-job injuries. “We just get to have fun all day, not get hurt, and the product looks pretty good at the end of the day,” Phelan said. Carpenters are finishing the lattice on the roof’s underside and installing parapet caps, some of the last touches before the install. Tucked above the woodwork are insulation panels that will reduce the sound, not only from planes taking off, but from the ambient noise of conversations inside the airport. J.C. Shepperd, an exterior/interior specialist with Carpenters Local 146, said workers are putting in 11,100 custom-made panels coated with a sound absorbing spray. That gives them different properties from a material like drywall, which sound waves reverberate off of. “These panels actually absorb 70% of the sound waves in the air,” said Shepperd, who works for construction contractor IES. He’s heard the results firsthand: After workers installed panels in large swaths of the roof, Shepperd’s crew started holding their morning huddle in one of those areas. The sound absorption was “like night and day,” he said. IBEW Local 48 members are installing electrical conduit to bring power to the roof and for the lighting and fire alarm systems. The conduit runs along the roof’s contours, and rather than hand-bending the conduit like workers anticipated, the project requires custom bending to the shape of the roof. “We’re installing it by hand, pushing it up, strapping it on, and then it just really curves well with the roof,” White explained. IBEW members are also installing wire for lights that will hang from the latticework. White started on the project last September when she was a first-term apprentice. She recalls more experienced IBEW members emphasizing how much she would learn by sticking with the project all the way through. She kept that in mind, particularly when it snowed last winter, and outdoor work continued in the cold. “I’ll freeze for winter, it’s fine,” White laughed, saying the experience gained was worth it.

SilvaStat360 Virtual Mill

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 8 min ago
Since rolling out the SilvaStat360 interactive digital platform in 2017, Forest2Market has continued to develop a series of innovative and analytical solutions for participants in the global forest value chain. Source: Forest2Market Its newest interactive visualization includes a Virtual Mill tool for consumers of both wood fibre (pulpwood and chips) and logs (sawtimber). Understanding the intricacies that underpin a hypothetical mill’s location and delivered wood price, as well as its position, advantages, and disadvantages versus the market is imperative for the mill’s success and profitability, and it helps shape decision-making for the future. For subscribers to Forest2Market’s Delivered Price Benchmark Service, the new Virtual Mill tool provides a full-spectrum view of the criteria that will impact the performance of a theoretical new facility, and it incorporates current delivered prices based on the highest-quality transactional data in the forest products industry. In a case study, Forest2Market used Virtual Mill to study a 75-mile procurement zone radius around a hypothetical sawmill in which they analyzed the types of competitors and other wood consuming facilities that exist in the basin, as well as delivered prices for pine sawtimber. They also utilized some of the other tools available in SilvaStat360 to look at available timber supply and average precipitation in the procurement zone, as well as macroeconomic drivers that impact finished lumber prices. The White Paper is available for download here:

Ponsse sells its Russian subsidiary

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 8 min ago
On 28 June 2022 Ponsse sold all shares in OOO Ponsse, its subsidiary that provided services in Russia and Belarus. Ponsse signed the deed of sale, according to which Ponsse’s operations in Russia will transfer to OOO Bison once the conditions of the transaction have been met. Source: Timberbiz Ponsse announced its intention to divest its operations in Russia on 15 June 2022. The company had previously divested itself of staff in Russia and also pointed to the fact that it was intending to sell its Russian subsidiary OOO Ponsse. The buyer, OOO Bison, is owned by Aleksey Voronkevich, whose company Dormashimport has been responsible for the retail sales of Ponsse forest machines in the eastern parts of Russia since 2007. Ponsse will classify the operations now as sold assets available for sale and report them as discontinued operations. The more detailed financial implications of the transaction are currently being assessed and the comparative figures of 2021 and profit guidance for the current year will be updated to correspond to the new business structure at the latest in connection with the mid-year report. Ponsse will publish its mid-year report on 9 August 2022. The transaction is expected to be closed by the end of Q3/2022. The transaction requires the approval of the local competition authorities. Sales in Russia and Belarus have accounted for roughly 20% of Ponsse’s net sales based on the 2021 financial statements. Ponsse’s export and service operations in Russia have been suspended since 2 March 2022 when the company announced that it will suspend all exports to Russia and Belarus. At the same time, OOO Ponsse suspended its local spare parts and maintenance services.

Partnership for safety management and land care skills in WA

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 9 min ago
A collaboration involving Responsible Wood certificate holders PF Olsen and Wespine Industries has partnered with the Leschenault Catchment Council (LCC) south of Perth to further expand a project focused on safety management and training in land care-specific skills. Source: Timberbiz The council, governed by volunteer membership, started the project – Danju: Jobs Together – to provide employment opportunities for the Noongar People. Landcare services such as fencing and weed management, planting, fauna monitoring and native seed collection are provided through a partnership with existing Aboriginal-owned companies. Responsible Wood sustainability manager Matt de Jongh, who recently visited community groups in Western Australia, said the partnership benefited from the strong connection of Traditional Owners to the region and the application of local traditional knowledge to contemporary land management in the catchment. “Two-way interaction includes training and administration support from LCC and advice from Noongar elders when planning activities to ensure cultural safety, extending expertise in Aboriginal mentoring and employment to the Danju project,” Mr de Jongh said. With support from the South West Development Commission via the Collie Futures Small Grants Program in 2019, the Danju Project was given a funding injection to allow for the development of a formal business plan, including governance frameworks, allowing the Danju to grow its business offering to a broader market. The Danju project partnership, includes Mallee Mungart (director, Phil Collard, based in Perth); Indigenous Workabout (director, Dean Wynne, based in Collie); Woolkabunning Kiaka Aboriginal Corporation/Roelands Village Academy (director, Les Wallam); and Harvey Aboriginal Corporation (director, Lesley Ugle). The Leschenault Catchment Council Inc. is governed by a volunteer membership formed in 2000 through the amalgamation of two community-led natural resource management groups – the Leschenault Inlet Management Authority and the Leschenault Catchment Coordinating Group. The Danju partnership has received widespread support from local MP’s, shires, government agencies, landholders and the broader community. Responsible Wood is the national governing body for PEFC in Australia, which has a goal to champion the sustainable management of the world’s forests – a goal it seeks to reach through the promotion of forest certification.

Prickly problem for Murray Region forests

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 9 min ago
The Softwoods Working Group and The Murray Region Forestry Hub is seeking substantial funding to support research into finding an effective biological control for blackberries not just in the hub’s area, but across eastern Australia where they are a massive problem. Source: Timberbiz Executive Officer Phil Clements of SWG and MRFH said a government coordinated, whole-of-landscape approach, across all land tenures, was urgently needed to deal with the serious blackberry problem. “We want to reduce the impact not only on the pines, but also on our farming neighbours, and we will work with them to get real action on this as soon as possible,” he said. The MRFH is one of 11 Commonwealth funded regional forestry hubs set up across Australia to explore the impediments and opportunities to developing the timber industry. Mr Clements said the MRFH had prepared a strategy to assist with industry recovery and development during the next 30 years, which includes a range of initiatives to ensure that the highest possible productivity could be achieved. “One area of concern is that competition caused by infestations of blackberries – a weed of national significance – would reduce the efficacy of these initiatives,” he said. “This is a severe problem for timber-producing forests and plantations, National Parks, farms, roadside reserves and along creeks and gullies. “We are aware that there is some good research work being undertaken into biological control, but these efforts are not being resourced anywhere near sufficiently or progressing anywhere near as quickly as the problem warrants. The long term, permanent solution is now beyond the reach of chemical control alone.” Chair of MRFH and SWG Peter Crowe said blackberries were a huge impediment to maximising production in pine plantations and he estimated production losses could be in the order of 5 to 10 per cent. “As well as impacting the productivity of the pine plantations, blackberries contribute to the fuel load in pine plantations and native forests, restrict access for harvesting and fighting fires, and make road and trail maintenance a much greater task,” Mr Crowe said. “In the South West Slopes region of NSW, 50,000 hectares of pine plantation was lost due to the fires in late 2019 and early 2020. The blackberries provided a larger fuel load in the pine plantations and native forests, which made the fires more severe, particularly due to the elevation of the blackberries – they carried the fire into the trees. “With the World Bank estimating that global timber demand will quadruple by 2050, Australia needs to take every step to secure and maximise its timber resources to ensure the supply of renewable, carbon-storing, forest products. Imports are no longer guaranteed and the potential adverse, long-term impact on Australia is extremely serious. “The impact of blackberries on timber production is only part of the story. When added to the presumably similar impacts and costs across other land tenures, the numbers are compounded. Add in the environmental costs and we have a disaster in the making. We need to accelerate the efforts to tackle blackberries now.”  

NZ Fed Farmers’ maths doesn’t add up says Forest Owners

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 10 min ago
New Zealand’s Forest Owners Association says Federated Farmers have got their sums wrong on the rate of forest planting and don’t understand the law on overseas investment either. Source: Timberbiz FOA is responding to claims made by Federated Farmers to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee that the rate of conversion of farmland to exotic forestry ‘will far exceed what the Climate Change Commission projected as a sustainable amount (25,000ha/yr)’ and that will reduce employment in rural communities. Forest Owners Association President, Grant Dodson, says Federated Farmers own figures, which are between 2017 and mid 2021, produce an average new planting of 22,244ha/yr. “My arithmetic tells me that just over 22-thousand hectares is actually less than 25-thousand hectares,” Mr Dodson said. “It does not ‘far exceed’ it. “Moreover, it now appears that the government has abandoned its unrealistic goal of planting native trees at a similar rate. “This will require a higher yearly planting rate for exotics close to 30-thousand hectares to still hit the zero-carbon target by 2050.” Mr Dodson also pointed to the official statistics of the total planted forest area in New Zealand.  In 2003 it was 1.827m/ha.  The latest figure, 2021, is 1.74m/ha. “Using my maths again, I work out that the forest estate is 87-thousand hectares less now than it was in 2003.  The area of plantation forest has actually shrunk,” he said. FOA is also drawing attention to the clear law that prevents overseas investors buying farmland for conversion to carbon-only forestry. “Federated Farmers are complaining to a select committee about carbon-only forests which has nothing to do with the legislation under consideration,” Mr Dodson said. “Overseas investors have to cover the cost of planting and managing their forests in strict accordance with the National Environmental Standards – Plantation Forestry, which governs a harvest rotation regime. “There is simply no permission regime for overseas owned permanent carbon- only forests. “The Feds are inventing scenarios of an incredibly high price of carbon way into the future leading to those forests never being harvested,” Mr Dodson said. “If that ever gets to happen it could only be the result of catastrophic failure of government policy to get greenhouse gas emissions down and consequent overreliance on forests to sequester carbon.” In the meantime, farmers converting to production forests were making an investment in the future, both for wood production and for carbon sequestration. “Forests are productive too.  PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate forests outperform sheep and beef land on average and provide more employment,” Mr Dodson said. He said Federated Farmers were complaining that forestry was making it more difficult to attract shearing gangs on to farms. “It is a strange claim. I suspect the decline in the national wool clip has much more to do with the low price of wool and farmers making their choice to farm alternative stock.” Mr Dodson said. “It would be good if farmers were also left alone to choose whether to plant trees on their land as well. “Diversified farms, incorporating livestock and areas of trees for commercial harvest and carbon will be a win for the farmers and the environment we all care for. “Let’s focus on getting a win -win scenario for both land uses which should be complimentary and put aside bogus claims and incorrect statistics.”

WA’s ‘gold standard of transparency’ gets lost in the forest

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 11 min ago
Western Australia’s Opposition has slammed the McGowan Government for refusing to provide details around terms for paying $200,000 of taxpayers’ money to the Australian Workers Union. Source: Timberbiz Shadow Forestry Minister Steve Martin said the recent Auditor-General report outlining Forestry Minister Dave Kelly’s failure to provide Parliament with the information as ‘not appropriate’ showed “WA Labor’s further muddying of Government transparency”. “Minister Kelly has once again proven his government’s lack of commitment to their promised ‘gold standard transparency’ and in fact shows a willingness to omit crucial information from West Australians,” Mr Martin said. “The AWU’s relationship with the WA Labor Party is questionable enough for them to provide representation for all forestry workers, but this financial injection raises further questions on the AWU’s ability to provide truly unbiased representation of forestry workers. “One would think this payment is meant to prevent the AWU from openly criticising the State Government on this matter,” he said. “The WA Labor Government is happy with demolishing the forestry industry then act like a cash handout to their Union mates will make it better. “Minister Kelly must front Western Australians on his Government’s decision to fund such a closely tied Union for important discussions around the future of all forestry workers.” Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the decision by Mr Kelly to not provide information about the deal with the Labor Party-affiliated union did not pass the “pub test”. “This is just another example in a growing list of secretive deals by the McGowan Labor Government that don’t stack up,” Ms Davies said. “The Premier promised to lead a government that would deliver ‘rolled-gold transparency’ and solid accountability but has done anything but. “Using taxpayers’ dollars to pay the AWU to negotiate transition packages for workers in the timber industry, while refusing to provide the terms of the contract, reeks of an arrogant Minister,” she said. “The Auditor General has found the McGowan Labor Government wanting on a number of occasions when it comes to governance and accountability. “Clearly the Premier and his Labor Ministers believe they are above good governance – West Australians deserve better than the arrogance and dishonesty currently on display.”

Forestry Corp responds to recent penalties in Dampier and South Brooman

Australian timber industry news - 18 hours 12 min ago
Forestry Corporation regrets that it made an error during operations in Dampier State Forest 2019 and removed trees from an area that should have been protected around a disused mineshaft. Source: Timberbiz Forestry Corporation carries out pre-harvest surveys and searches and marks all areas that need protection in electronic maps or in spray paint or tape on trees. At the time of the incident, electronic mapping was newly introduced, and the mineshaft was not marked using the same method as the two nearby mine shaft exclusion zones. Our contractor immediately reported the incident, and we reviewed our processes. The mine shaft was not damaged, but systems have been improved to prevent a similar incident occurring in future. All staff and contractors now use a single electronic mapping system during operations, which provides complete and consistent information to operators, and we continue to monitor and improve our systems. Forestry Corporation has also recently received a penalty in relation to a tree harvested during an operation under site specific operating conditions in South Brooman State Forest. The PIN relates to one tree harvested during an operation under site specific operating conditions in South Brooman State Forest where all hollow bearing trees were required to be protected. Forestry Corporation undertook ground assessments with trained staff walking through the forest to identify trees with visible hollows and identified and protected hundreds of such trees during the harvesting operations. One tree was determined by the EPA to have been a hollow bearing tree after it was felled, and Forestry Corporation has received this penalty notice. Forestry Corporation disputes it has felled a hollow bearing tree in breach of the rules and is considering whether it will contest the allegation in court. Since the 2019-20 bushfires Forestry Corporation has adopted additional environmental safeguards above the requirements of the strict ruleset in place in NSW, the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, to balance providing timber to local industry employing local people to produce important timber products and ensuring the forests can regenerate after the bushfires. These safeguards including things like setting aside additional areas from harvesting in feed tree clumps and landscape exclusions and undertaking additional landscape surveys. These measures remain in place today. We have also increased our focus on compliance with additional resources on the ground for planning and monitoring and are committed to complying with the stringent ruleset and minimising any environmental impact from operations so that the forests regenerate and provide both wildlife habitat and timber supply for future generations.  

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by Dr. Radut