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Forest Products Industry

S7 base is a robust all-rounder

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 38 min ago
Seppi’s S7 base is a robust mulcher made of S420 steel for orchards, vineyards, green area maintenance, and forestry. Source: Timberbiz With a power range of 50 to 160 HP, it’s an all-rounder for landscape, grassland, and irrigation maintenance, this innovative mulcher meets the requirements of professionals under various conditions. The S7 base flail mulcher is suitable for AEBI tractors due to its low weight and close centre of gravity to the tractor, making it particularly popular for use on steep slopes. The rotor shaft of the S7 base is equipped with strong SMO or SMW flails, which reliably mulch grass and woody material up to 7 cm in diameter even at high speeds. Due to its robust construction and the spirally arranged flails on the HELIX rotor, forces are distributed particularly evenly, ensuring smooth operation even at speeds of up to 10 km/h. Thanks to its wear-resistant construction, the reversible mulcher is not only suitable for landscape, grassland, and irrigation maintenance but also for light forestry work. The housing contains hardened counter cutters, which are even interchangeable in the S7 series, ensuring their properties are maintained even under heavy use. The combined protection device of chains and flaps prevents twigs from getting tangled and protects against stone impact. The newly designed belt housing corresponds to the sturdy construction of forestry equipment and also features deflectors to protect passing plants. With the optional M-FLAP hood, the shredding degree can be easily adjusted without additional tools. It is available as mechanical or hydraulic if needed. Like all S7 mulchers, this model is equipped with a stable support roller with reinforced 4D-ROLLER bearings. The 4D bearings guarantee smooth operation on uneven terrain. Choose from a wide range of working widths – 150, 175, 200, 225, and 250 cm – according to your specific requirements. The S7 base delivers a perfectly clean cut even at higher working speeds. Its features ensure minimal consumption, and the machine is easy to maintain.

Wildfires the worst on record for EU with more come

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 39 min ago
Wildfires are uncontrolled fires that occur in nature and are often harshened by climatic conditions. Long dry spells particularly increase the risk of wildfires breaking out, but other factors also have a huge impact, such as rain and wind, vegetation, the layout of the terrain, and forest management practices. Source: Timberbiz Last year was a record-breaking year, with the largest fires ever experienced in Europe, one of the worst wildfire seasons on record in the EU. Wildfires also severely affected Northern America, as well as many countries in Southern America. Lives were lost, livelihoods destroyed, and many hectares of land burnt all over the world. Last year, the EU reinforced its rescEU firefighting fleet (firefighting planes and helicopters) as well as pre-positioned hundreds of firefighters for immediate support in forest fires-prone countries. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated 10 times to respond to wildfires in the Mediterranean, Chile, Bolivia and Canada. In 2024, the same level of response will be maintained. The fire risk is expected to further increase due to climate change. The season will be increasingly characterised by massive fires that cost lives and burn areas that take longer to fully recover. Between 2007 and 2023, over 16% of all requests for assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism were in response to wildfires. Wildfires have recently become a pan-European concern. In 2022, although France, Spain and Portugal were particularly hit, major fires also took place in Czechia, Germany, Greece, and Slovenia, to name a few. In total, 20 EU Member States recorded more burned areas than average in 2022. The wildfire risk expanded to areas that have not previously been exposed, moving well beyond the Mediterranean region. This causes huge societal, environmental, climate and economic losses across Europe. In 2023 the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) channelled assistance to Albania, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Cyprus and Greece and Tunisia. Furthermore, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) regularly produces satellite maps on demand to help national authorities respond to wildfires. In the same year, Copernicus has been activated 25 times for wildfires across the globe. In 2023, both the number of fires and the EU’s annual burnt area were above average.

Japan’s declining softwood imports

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 39 min ago
Japan’s predominantly wood-based housing sector has historically been a strong market for the world’s softwood lumber exporters, but with an ageing population, demand is declining. However, the government is supporting green building with pro-wood policies, and tall timber buildings are on the rise, potentially opening up new opportunities. Source: ResourceWise In the last six years, Japan’s imports of softwood lumber by volume have fallen by 48%–an average decline of 8% per year with just a 1% uptick between 2021 and 2022. Lumber imports in 2023 dropped by almost 33% compared with 2022 to 3.2 million m3. Between 2017 and 2023, Canada accounted for almost 27% of Japan’s total softwood lumber imports, but volumes from Canada have fallen by 60% in that timeframe. In 2023, Canadian lumber accounted for 758,000 m3, a year-over-year decline of 19%. In February 2024, Japan’s lumber imports from Canada amounted to 60,818 m3, which was almost on a par with imports from Finland (57,057 m3). The average price of imported lumber from Canada in February was $396 per m3. The average price of Finnish lumber was $284 per m3. Japan’s softwood lumber imports from Finland and Sweden in 2023 both declined by more than 30% year-over-year. Japan’s softwood lumber imports from Russia have also declined in recent years, and in 2023 were down 40% year-over-year to 467,000m3. However, despite its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s share of Japan’s lumber market barely changed in the last five years, to the surprise and disapproval of European forest industry organizations. Several of Japan’s main softwood lumber suppliers saw an upturn in exports in 4Q 2023–Canada’s 4Q exports to Japan were up 33% year-over-year and 37% compared with 3Q. But with Japan’s softwood lumber import volumes closely tied to the housing market, a long-term upward trend seems unlikely. In 2021, wooden buildings accounted for 91% of Japan’s single-family homes, but Japan’s declining birthrate suggests demand—particularly for owner- occupied homes–is likely to wane in the future, according to Japan Lumber Journal (JLJ). In 2023, housing starts decreased by 4.6% year-over- year to 819,623 units, and owner-occupied housing fell by 11.4%. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, on announcing the annual data in January, said consumers had been concerned early in 2023 about the likely impact of the Ukraine war on material prices. The number of prefabricated housing starts declined by 8.1% to 103,403 units and the number of two-by-four houses declined by 0.5% to 90,792 units. Therefore, softwood lumber suppliers cannot, pin their hopes on a dramatic future rebound in Japan’s traditional residential construction market. However, there are signs of emerging opportunities to increase wood-use in the non-residential sector. The Law on the Promotion of Wood Use in Buildings for Contributing to the Achievement of a Decarbonized Society came into effect in October 2021. The revision to this law expanded its scope beyond public buildings to include buildings in general, JLJ reported. The law also encourages the use of forest plantations planted after the Second World War, and the government is offering subsidies towards construction and timber procurement costs. According to Japan’s land ministry, 36 applications were filed in 2022 for the construction of wooden buildings with four or more floors above ground— more than double the number of applications the year prior. Port Plus in Yokohama, at 11 stories, is Japan’s tallest timber building. It now houses construction contractor Obayashi Corp, which is an advocate of greater use of timber in Japanese buildings. According to Australia’s Wood Central, Mitsui Fudosan Co. and Takenaka Corp. plan to erect a 17-story office building in Tokyo by 2025, and Sumitomo Forestry Co. aims to construct a 350-meter high-rise with 90% of the structure made from lumber in 2041 at the earliest. Tall wood buildings might be new to Japan, but their appeal as a “natural climate solution” to aid in the decarbonization of the construction sector is undeniable. Obayashi estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from Port Plus are a quarter of those of a comparable building made from reinforced concrete and half of those of steel-frame buildings. Also, Japan’s existing building codes and policies have set the stage for taller wood buildings. No stranger to earthquakes, Japan enshrined building safety and resilience standards in its Building Standards Law in 1981. Revisions made in 2000, after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, tightened the requirements further, focusing on the resilience of wooden buildings and overall structural integrity. Japan recently revised its Building Standards Law further to encourage the use of domestic timbers such as cedar to manufacture building products including veneer, plywood, and panelling. The country also has domestic production of engineered wood products such as glulam and LVL.

ANSIS will provide reliable soil data online

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 40 min ago
The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry in collaboration with CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency, is further enhancing the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS). Source: Timberbiz Launched in June 2023, an additional $6 million over five years has been invested through the Natural Heritage Trust for ongoing delivery and enhancement of the $15 million National Soil Strategy initiative. First Assistant Secretary of Sustainability Climate and Strategy Nick Blong said soil is a valuable resource that needs to be protected and sustained. “ANSIS is an important initiative that provides reliable soil data accessible to anyone online, Mr Blong said. “As a system formed to support the evaluation of the health of Australian soil, ANSIS will help to inform stronger soil management practices that will deliver benefits to our agriculture sector and other industries.” The initiative is part of the government’s Natural Heritage Trust Climate-Smart Agriculture Program, which is providing integrated investments to support the agriculture industry to strengthen climate resilience and sustainability, including soil health. It also supports the National Soil Action Plan 2023-2028, a 5-year plan to improve soil health and management using coordinated measures nationally across policy, education, research and investment, and soil data information-sharing. CSIRO lead scientist on the project, Peter Wilson, said the new system had been designed to bring data access efficiency to research, education and policy users. Supporting development of information products and programs that help farmers and decision makers in the agricultural sector. “We can’t underestimate how important soil is to future prosperity for the agriculture sector, particularly in the areas of sustainability, productivity, profitability and food security. “Until now it has been difficult to find and access relevant soil data to get a national picture of the state of soils across the country to inform decision making. “CSIRO has worked closely with stakeholders to develop this valuable platform to deliver nationally consistent soil data that will help inform the future management of our soils including opportunities for change or improvement.”

FPC fire protection grants deliver for WA brigades

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 40 min ago
Western Australia’s Forest Products Commission recognises the important role of volunteer fire brigades, local government authorities, and community organisations in protecting local communities, forests, and State’s plantations from the threat of bushfire. Source: Timberbiz To support their efforts in planning, preparing, and responding to bushfire emergencies, the FPC launched the Community Fire Protection Grants Program last year to provide funding of up to $10,000 per entity for equipment and supplies, training activities, and professional development. The program selected applications aligned with the FPC’s priorities linked to its softwood plantation management, increased understanding about fire management in plantations, and delivered the greatest benefits to local communities. Following a competitive judging process, 12 successful applicants received grant funding under the 2023 program: Allanson Bushfire Brigade (1) – Radios Allanson Bushfire Brigade (2) – LED lights Argyle Irishtown Bushfire Brigade – Radios Beleerup Bushfire Brigade – Tanker equipment and supplies Donnybrook Town Volunteer Bushfire Brigade – Gazebos, chairs, and tables McAlinden Bushfire Brigade – Fast-fill trailer with high-volume pump and standpipe Mumballup-Noggerup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade – Submersible water pump and high-volume petrol pump Shire of Boyup Brook – Radios Shire of Cranbrook – Water tanks Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup – Radio twin packs Shire of Nannup – Radios Upper Capel Bushfire Brigade – Water tank and stand The program was beneficial to community volunteer bushfire brigades and local government authorities who have been able to use the funding to enhance their firefighting and fire protection needs. One of the recipients of the program, Allanson Volunteer Bushfire Brigade in the Shire of Collie, utilised the grant to purchase multi-frequency handheld radios and portable LED lighting systems. It is common to experience poor cellular signal in the bush, hampering effective communication during the critical first few hours of a bushfire where coordination of firefighting plans and teamwork amongst emergency services were crucial. The radios have the capability to communicate across a broad range of frequencies, enabling the brigade to communicate effectively with multiple emergency service agencies during operations. The new handheld radios enable not only high-quality communication between firefighting crews, but flexibility and mobility that allow efficient survey and reporting of bushfire in less accessible locations, which was not always possible with other hard mounted radios. “The FPC Grants program has been extremely beneficial to the Allanson Volunteer Bushfire Brigade,” Shire of Collie Community Emergency Services Manager Kohdy Flynn said. “Without this significant funding opportunity, the brigade could not purchase crucial equipment to fulfill its commitment in helping to protect the community against the threat of fire. The Allanson volunteer members and the Shire of Collie recognise and appreciate the funding that has been provided by the FPC.” Another recipient, McAlinden Bushfire Brigade in Boyup Brook, secured a fast-fill trailer with a high-volume pump and a standpipe. The trailer boosts response speed with quick refill of fire trucks, including private units, and firefighting aircrafts’ water bladders for aerial attack during bushfire emergency response. “We’re pleased that volunteer fire brigades, local government authorities, and community organisations are seeing real benefits from the program,” FPC General Manager Stuart West said. “It further strengthens our collaboration with regional communities to enhance bush fire management and protection in WA.” The 2024 FPC Community Fire Protection Grants Program applications have recently closed with an overwhelming response. The successful applicants will be announced soon.

Going with the Grain needs to recognise forestry’s value

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 46 min ago
Forest owners say a new report is a promising step towards addressing complex land use management issues in New Zealand but needs to recognise the value of forestry in building a more resilient environment. Source: Timberbiz The report, Going with the Grain: Changing land uses to fit a changing landscape, was released this week by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE). It acknowledges the longstanding complexities of land use management in New Zealand and the need to shift to a more granular, mosaic approach in the face of a changing climate. New Zealand Forest Owners Association chief executive, Dr Elizabeth Heeg, says forest owners are supporters of an integrated land use conversation but says forestry must first be recognised as a valued part of that land use mosaic. “Unfortunately, the report paints forests as part of the land use problem when the opposite is true,” she said. “It is time for the government to acknowledge the pivotal role New Zealand’s production forests have in creating a resilient landscape and for the sector to be supported in driving change.” New Zealand’s 1.75-million-hectare production forest estate currently sequesters more than half the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions each year and is arguably one of the most effective tools at the nation’s disposal to mitigate the effects of climate change. Forest owners are concerned that the report’s suggestions to alter the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and phase forestry out of the ETS, could jeopardise meeting our 2050 climate change target. Dr Heeg says confidence in the ETS is vital for forest owners to continue to invest. “The addition of a biogenic methane-based ETS could disincentivise emissions reductions further, affecting supply and demand at a time where we need a greater commitment to offsetting emissions. “A new scheme may add to the volatility of that market, not to mention the unnecessary complexity and overheads.” Elizabeth says more trees are needed to build New Zealand’s resilience to climate change, not less as the report suggests. “The area of new planting has not exceeded more than 70,000 hectares per year in more than three years,” she says. “Forestry would need to multiply that planting area by at least 11, according to a 2022 report from the PCE, to make inroads to reaching that 2050 emissions target. “It makes no sense for the report to suggest that reducing production forestry is a positive way forward.” Dr Heeg says the report’s view that forestry offers fewer benefits and removes land use options from future generations is fuelling misconceptions about the sector. “Production forests are four times more productive than sheep and beef farming per hectare. They generate significant economic activity for rural communities, including employment for more than 40,000 New Zealanders.” They’re also crucial for supporting our ecosystems, she says. “Pine forests provide a valuable, safe habitat for many of our indigenous species. The strong pest management regimes of these forests outweighs that of native forests and they are increasingly used as an environment for re-establishing at risk or declining species such as the Kiwi. “They help in stabilising erodible land and are home to more than 24,000 kilometres of streams that provide high-quality water to downstream users,” Dr Heeg said. “It’s clear that production forests offer just as many, if not more, ecosystem benefits as other land uses do.” Forest owners are keen to be part of the land use solution and will continue to engage with communities to improve climate, biodiversity and water management outcomes as part of their forest management practices. However, proposed land use solutions and policies must be evidence-based, cost-effective and not value one land use over another. “Like other rural sectors, forestry holds an important role in maintaining a healthy mosaic of land use,” Dr Heeg said. “Forest owners want to help build climate and environmental resilience but need the support of the community and recognition of the sector’s value, to do so.”  

Going with the Grain goes against the grain

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 47 min ago
The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) says the new report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) raises important land use change issues that farm foresters have been active in for decades. Source: Timberbiz The report, Going with the Grain: Changing land uses to fit a changing landscape, was released this week, acknowledging longstanding land use complexities in New Zealand and the need to shift to a more nuanced approach in the face of climate change. NZFFA Council Chairman Graham West says many of NZFFA’s 24 regional branches already have a high level of engagement with the rural community on land use management issues, including collaboration with local catchment groups. “Farm foresters are seeking a more holistic solution to land use,” Mr West said. “We provide the practical and technical advice on where plantations fit in the property and wider landscape, what species provides most benefit, and what the economic limitations may be.” While greater effort can come from the roles of government and regional councils, farm forestry says it is the direct facilitation of on-farm operations that are vital. NZFFA President Neil Cullen says integration of small-scale forestry into hill country farming will be a key factor in ensuring its survival. “Land use change is not a priority when farmers are in survival mode,” Mr Cullen said. “Practical assistance with on farm facilitation is often needed to get things done like tree planting, that appears to be nonessential to a busy farm routine.” Farm foresters would have liked to have seen more of how they can build their knowledge of what is meant by “resilience” in the landscape, and how that translates into actionable change or decisions on-farm. “Little is known of the mechanical limits of landscapes when disasters occur,” Mr West said. “If land use change is needed, do we have the empirical evidence that suggested alternatives will stand the stressors of the new environment? “Not all land use metrics are biological. Soil physics, root mechanics, overland water flows, wind dynamics all need to be better understood before we can design a resilient land use category. “The existing expected limits for these risk variables are also changing each year as climate change accelerates. “Farm foresters need the support from Government and the Levy to adapt and grow more resilient woodlots that withstand those variables.” A collaborative, integrated approach to planning tools, spatial data, environmental and economic models will be important. “Funding the collaboration between property owners, catchment groups, regional councils, science providers, and rural professionals, will improve knowledge sharing and drive better research,” Mr Cullen said. “Meeting and working collectively to discuss and address these issues has and will continue to be the most constructive approach for finding a way forward.” More information about Going with the Grain here.  

Forest management feedback sought in NSW

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 48 min ago
Community members are invited to review and provide feedback on updated forest management plans for the Cypress and inland hardwood forests managed by Forestry Corporation of NSW and Cumberland State Forest in Sydney. Source: Timberbiz Morgan Roche, Information System and Framework Manager for Forestry Corporation, said the forest management plans would be on public display until Friday 17 May 2024 and welcomed community feedback. “Forest management plans summarise our activities as well as the systems, processes and procedures we maintain that ensure we continue to manage forests sustainably,” Mr Roche said. “The State forests in Western NSW cover a vast area of different forest types, from the Cypress forests in the Pilliga region to the River Red Gum forests along the Murray River, while Cumberland State Forest is nestled in the suburbs of Sydney and is Australia’s only metropolitan State forest. “All of these forests are managed for multiple uses, and the forest management plans summarise what these uses are and set out our commitment to planning, monitoring and adapting our activities in response to new information so that we continually improve our practices, processes and outcomes in these forests. “We review these forest management plans every five years and provide an opportunity for public feedback and input every time they are reviewed. In this review, an important change is that we will incorporate the plans into the broader forest management plan for State forests, which was updated in 2022 and covers general forest management as well as specific management of softwood plantations and coastal native forests. “We welcome the community’s input and feedback and invite people to visit our website to find out more about the plans and provide their feedback.”

Opinion: Bruce Larsen – can the NZ government stablise forestry

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 49 min ago
New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTF) president Bruce Larsen outlines his views on how the change of Government will impact the forestry and timber manufacturing sector… The new Government is bedding in its position and has started with some significant cost reductions — gone are the new ferries for Cook Strait, light rail for Auckland and Industry Transformation Plan. The Labour Government’s RMA 2.0 laws and Fair Pay Agreements have been or will be repealed; legislation is imminent to re-establish 90-day employment trials and disestablish the Maori Health Authority. So, what does this reset mean for the forestry and timber manufacturing sector? As a major export earner, employer, and deliverer of solutions for meeting New Zealand’s carbon emissions reduction targets, it is vitally important that our wood products and forestry sectors remain supported by government to enable future growth — especially in timber manufacturing. Market volatility (domestic and export), inflation, high interest rates and staff shortages have been plaguing the industry over the past few years. Does this government have solutions? Respondents to a study of 200 senior business leaders carried out by Curia Market Research for Datacom (and published in the NZ Herald) seem to think so: “Off the back of both the change in government and after a challenging few years with Covid, businesses are getting back into a growth mindset.” Respondents rated the top business priorities as growth (35%), staff retention and recruitment (24%), and workplace productivity (19%). I’m not sure how many timber manufacturers are looking at “growth” as a major priority, but certainly staff management and productivity are common themes I hear frequently. Often, the answer to the second and third issues is to implement mechanisation and technology projects to reduce the reliance on people, drive down production costs and increase productivity. All very fine, but it becomes problematic in a “down” domestic market with limited export opportunities. There was also some good news recently in the form of a further slowdown for the CPI, which eased from 5.6% in Q3/23 to 4.7% in Q4/23 — still above the Reserve Bank’s target range of 1% to 3% but moving in the right direction. However, house building activity is currently very slow, and has been for over a year. New Zealand structural timber manufacturers have had a very difficult 12 to 18 months with an oversupply of timber, resulting in a sluggish market and significant price reductions. While many mills have been looking offshore, export markets are also under pressure, and the cost of shipping bulk materials such as timber, especially to Australia (our closest and natural market), remains high. So, what is the outlook for housing and, therefore, timber? Although I don’t anticipate a flood of investor activity in 2024, things might look a little more tempting for rental house investors, with rising rents, easing deposit rates, and mortgage interest deductibility likely to go back to 80% during 2024. Timber manufacturers I have spoken with expect 2024 will be an improvement on last year, but it is likely to be at least next spring before the industry sees any real benefits. Pan Sector Accord Subsequently, in response to the poor market conditions right throughout the forest industry supply chain — from silviculture to harvesting to cartage and shipping and on to timber manufacturing — the industry recently signed a Pan Sector Accord, establishing a new body called the NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF, see page 22). The Forum’s collective advocacy will be for policies that are socially responsible, environmentally and ecologically sustainable, internationally competitive, and profitable. Foundation signatories include: New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF), New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA), Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA), New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA), Wood Processing and Manufacturers Association (WPMA), Nga Pou a Tane (NPOT), Log Transport Safety Council (LTSC), New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF), Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) and Bioenergy Association. On a darker note, we are increasingly hearing of the financial stress city and district councils are under, leading to a significant and rapid reduction in project commitment, many of which use timber. Councils are critically short of money. This disturbing trend comes on top of some major projects being cancelled or paused. While there may be a case for optimism in the medium term because of the sheer amount of work that needs to be done, the immediate situation is very difficult for many businesses in the construction industry. The forest growing sector is also facing extremely difficult times, dealing with market issues and proposed new rules. While no one likes to see the devastation caused on the East Coast, we should remember that while these events are likely to occur more frequently, similar issues have arisen in the past. Destroyed infrastructure Much of the forest land was established after Cyclone Bola (1988) in an attempt to reduce land erosion and, undoubtedly, forest land holds together better than farmland. However, the sea of logs, forest residue and other plant material along with soil and silt that swamped large areas of farmland and destroyed infrastructure has significantly damaged the forest industry’s public credibility. In response, councils are now bringing in new rules around Highly Erodible Land (HEL). While there is no doubt the causes of the damage need to be identified and rules changed to improve safety and resilience, some knee-jerk reactions will significantly impact the forest industry and the whole sector. One example I am aware of is in Northland, where the regional council is proposing to significantly limit the area that can be harvested from HEL on any property. A theoretical case study on one significant forest with about a third of its productive area classed as HEL will now take around 36 years to harvest the existing crop — i.e., if they started logging at age 25 the crop would be aged 61 before it was completed. Normally a forest is harvested between the ages of 26 and 32 to ensure economic viability. This proposed rule would therefore […]

Forestry Corp permits for windfarms in pine plantations

Australian timber industry news - 7 hours 50 min ago
Forestry Corporation has reached an important milestone to explore the potential for windfarms within public pine plantations to contribute to the NSW transition to renewable energy. Source: Timberbiz Chief Executive Officer Anshul Chaudhary has announced that Neoen, Iberdrola Australia, TagEnergy and Mainstream Renewables Power and Someva Renewables joint venture have been awarded permits to investigate wind farm opportunities in some pine plantations in the Central West and Southern Inland regions. Mr Chaudhary said the permits will enable the proponents to investigate windfarm opportunities in pine plantations in the State Forests around Bondo, Orange, Black Springs and Sunny Corner. “Today’s announcement marks the start of the investigation phase under what will be a comprehensive and considered planning process,” he said. “A permit is not a consent to proceed with a project, but it will allow the proponent to start the detailed studies to see if a project is viable within each investigation permit area. Each company will need to conduct detailed wind farm feasibility studies, which will commence with the installation of wind and weather monitoring equipment on meteorological masts. “Each company will also undertake extensive community consultation and work with local communities to consider and address potential concerns around environmental impact, noise, landscape and visual impacts, traffic and transport issues, hazard and risks, heritage, water and soil impacts and waste management.” Once this work is completed the companies would submit the projects for consideration by the State Government and if approved, Forestry Corporation will issue a Construction and Operations permit. The combined investigation, consultation, planning and approval stages could be expected to take between three and six years. Any approved development would be unlikely to be in operation until the early 2030s. “The proponents have demonstrated a strong commitment to build long-term relationships with the local communities and stakeholders, First Nations groups and the Local Government,” Mr Chaudhary said. In 2021 NSW parliament passed changes to the Forestry Act 2012 which allowed renewable energy projects to be considered in softwood plantations. As public land managers Forestry Corporation has a role to play in the transition to renewable energy in NSW. “Wind farms can co-exist with plantation forests without having any long-term impact on tree growth or plantation operations, as the wind turbines are situated well above the top of the trees. Pine plantations are large areas often in windy locations, with access to powerlines, and a good existing road network,” Mr Chaudhary said. “Each project will have a Community Benefit Fund equivalent to a value per megawatt of installed capacity, delivering direct benefit back to impacted residents and the broader community.”  

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