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Scion building wins PEFC world award

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:38
New Zealand’s Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, by RTA Studio/Irving Smith Architects has won the PEFC Best Use of Certified Timber prize. Located in New Zealand, Scion Innovation Hub was chosen as the most outstanding of the eight shortlisted projects from around the world. Source: Timberbiz It is also the winner of the World Architecture Festival WAF in the category Completed Buildings -–Higher Education and Research. Proudly showcasing PEFC-certified timber in a unique diagrid structure, the building requires less material than traditional mass engineered timber buildings. The judges highlighted the focus of the project, away from gravity mass timber buildings to geometrically stiffened forms to help in earthquake conditions. It was also noted that the building achieved embodied carbon zero at the time of completion and showcased dovetail node joints which slot together, in an expression of craftsmanship and beauty. “Scion Innovation Hub pays tribute to the local indigenous community and its history, as well as being a forestry research centre. Both are aligned with PEFC’s principles around community respect and continuous innovation,” PEFC Deputy CEO Michael Berger said. Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is a reinvention of the headquarter building of Scion, a Crown Research Institute that specialises in technology development for the forestry industry. The project is named after Tuteata, an ancestor of the three local Māori subtribes. Three peaks in glulam timber standing proud and tall at the entrance represent the three subtribes. Visitors pass beneath these portals to a triple-height atrium where a curated exhibition of wood-fibre technology and a café welcome the public. The levels above provide more private, acoustically considered open-plan office and collaboration spaces. The project is a cutting-edge showcase for engineered timber, not only in terms of the aesthetic but also what it contributes to a carbon-zero future. In addition to the winning project, the jury honoured Microlibrary Warak Kayu by SHAU Indonesia with a highly commended prize. The Microlibrary in Semarang, the capital of Central Java in Indonesia, was built as part of an initiative to increase interest in reading by creating environmentally conscious, multifunctional community spaces in low-income neighbourhoods. When designing the Microlibrary, SHAU were keen to make learning more accessible to some of Indonesia’s poorest communities. To encourage families to use the library, fun features such as a hammock style floor and a swing were incorporated into the design. Judges commended the use of locally sourced certified tropical timbers and design features such as the distinctive diagonal-patterned brise soleil, which provides natural shade for the bookshelves.

NeXTimber engineered products backed with $63m

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:37
Timberlink Australia has launched the new brand for their forthcoming engineered wood products building solutions range – NeXTimber by Timberlink. Source: Timberbiz NeXTimber by Timberlink will manufacture Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) products providing an Australian-made renewable and carbon positive timber building solution for commercial, residential, and public projects. Backed by a $63 million capital investment, the NeXTimber range will be manufactured on Australia’s first combined world scale softwoods CLT and GLT manufacturing line, within a purpose-built manufacturing plant being constructed adjacent to Timberlink’s state-of-the-art timber manufacturing facility in Tarpeena, South Australia. Production will begin in 2023. “NeXTimber by Timberlink places us at the forefront of integrated forestry and softwood processing in Australia,” Timberlink Chief Executive Officer Ian Tyson said. “The NeXTimber range will be manufactured on Timberlink’s Tarpeena site from Timberlink timber, sourced from local certified pine plantations. The plantations, like Timberlink, are under the ownership of funds managed by New Forests. This connection from seed to structure will give NeXTimber customers a unique level of supply certainty. “Currently around half of all of Australia’s engineered timber is being imported and the demand for this is expected to rapidly grow in the next decade, so building the sovereign capacity of locally made CLT and GLT is great news for Australian manufacturing and local regional employment,” Mr Tyson said. A total of 27 full-time permanent jobs will be created when the facility opens in 2023 rising to 50 at full output. A significant number of additional jobs are also being created during the construction phase. Engineered timber products are increasingly being used in Australia and globally, particularly in mid-rise buildings due to a combination of factors, including cost-effectiveness, livability, ease and efficiency of construction. They also satisfy the increasing demand for energy efficient, sustainable, and carbon positive building materials. “Timberlink is looking forward to growing the NeXTimber brand and supporting more specifiers and builders in using Australian-made mass timber that stores carbon because as our brand says, NeXTimber: It’s what better tomorrows are built on,” Mr Tyson said. For further information visit www.nextimber.com.au. To support the launch of the NeXTimber brand, Timberlink has released a new video. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/IJ4dXBqVB88

Ecosystem report recommends abandonment of ban on native timber harvesting

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:36
A new report on ecosystem decline in Victoria has recommended the introduction of Indigenous ‘cool burn’ techniques and to abandon the Andrews Government’s 2030 ban on native timber harvesting. Source: Timberbiz The recommendations were made following a two-year parliamentary inquiry investigating Victoria’s ecosystems and the threats and challenges to the habitat’s health and sustainability into the future. The Minority Report, released in the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline, delivers 15 positive suggestions to combat the “major threats” presented in evidence to the Inquiry “such as high-intensity bushfires, invasive species and predators”. Concerns that the committee, which was stacked with Labor and Labor-voting Independent MPs, would not independently and impartially consider all the evidence presented at the hearings motivated Liberal Nationals members to produce the Minority Report. “We have unique opportunities in Victoria to promote healthy, sustainable ecosystems, but that may be missed because the Andrews Labor Government only wants to look at part of the picture,” Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use Melina Bath said. “The Liberal Nationals’ report represents the voice of the many country Victorians who took the time to submit balanced, measured and well-supported evidence. “As stewards of the land, the views of our farmers and regional communities are crucial in developing a comprehensive strategy to protect our ecosystems and combat the devastation of bushfires, invasive weeds and pest animals,” Ms Bath said. “We can’t afford to ignore these opportunities to strengthen bushfire preparedness and collaborate with Traditional Owners for the health of our environment and the safety of our communities.” The 15 recommendations include to: Abandon the ‘Safer Together’ fire policy and adopt the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendation for fuel reduction on 5% of the forest, Work with Traditional Owners to reintroduce Indigenous ‘cool burn’ techniques to complement the Department’s current program of prescribed burns, Collaborate with Traditional Owners to offer accreditation in conservation and Indigenous land management, similar to NSW, Employ a landscape-wide strategy for conservation management of threatened species, Better control pest weeds and animals with an increased and secure funding stream for local groups, like Landcare, and; Oppose proposals to reintroduce dingoes as an apex predator in Victorian National Parks. Evidence presented to the inquiry included a 2020 audit by the Victorian Auditor-General that found ‘Safer Together’ is a failed policy that’s “not fit for purpose”. Submissions and testimony presented to the Committee highlight that ecosystem decline in Victoria is “a direct result of poor government policy, inadequate execution of programs and mismanagement of the major threats such as fire, invasive species and predators on public land” (Minority Report, pg 6). The report can be found at https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/file_uploads/LCEPC_59-05_Ecosystem_decline_in_Vic_Y9rT7Z1v.pdf

Gentle induction into Association Forum Hall of Fame

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:35
Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association executive officer Kersten Gentle has been inducted into the Association Forum’s 2021 Hall of Fame. Source: Timberbiz The award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding high-level contribution and commitment to an association or associations over a long period. She was nominated for the award by head of marketing and communications at Forest and Wood Products Australia and head of FWPA’s WoodSolutions Program Eileen Newbury. Ms Gentle was appointed to the FTMA in 2009and has represented the organisation on industry committees and boards such as Wood Products Victoria, Women in Forest and Timber Network, Innovative Skills Program and various ForestWorks committees. She is also a member of the Coalition for Safer Communities and was recently appointed to the Victorian Victims of Crime Consultative Committee by the Victorian Attorney General to raise, address and implement changes to support victims of crime and hopefully reduce crimes against people. “I am absolutely honoured to be inducted into the Associations Hall of Fame on the first of December, which recognises individuals who have made an outstanding high-level contribution and commitment to an association or associations over a long period of time,” she said. “Everyone knows I love my job, love our industry and I even though we don’t do the hard work for the recognition, I am humbled to be recognised by one of my peers, especially when they are someone I admire so much. “Thank you, Eileen, for the nomination and for recognising the hard work, passion and dedication I have given to FTMA and TCA over many years.”

AFCA new general manager Carlie Porteous

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:34
Carlie Porteous is the new general manager of the Australian Forest Contractors Association. She brings more than 10 years’ experience in the forestry industry to the role having previously worked with all aspects of the value chain; contractors, growers, processors and government agencies. Source: Timberbiz Her appointment on December 1 follows her role as manager, forestry and fibre compliance, at Visy Industries, enhancing communication and collaboration with industry groups, supply chain members and customers to achieve a responsible supply chain across Visy’s manufacturing sectors. Ms Porteous has expertise in FSC and PEFC certification systems and successfully managed the largest FSC chain of custody certificate within Australia while participating in a number of industry groups, including as a trustee on the board of the Gottstein Trust and a director of FSC Australia and New Zealand. AFCA Chair, Adan Taylor is delighted with the appointment ensuring that AFCA remains the single united national body representing forest contract businesses. “In our search for a new general manager it was key for us to find someone who understood the complexities and challenges faced by our members,” Mr Taylor said. “We are glad to announce that Carlie Porteous, with her deep understanding of the forestry value chain and passion for the people and communities that support this truly sustainable industry, has been appointed. “Experience overseeing the largest chain of custody in Asia-Pacific for 10 years and developing relationships with everyone from forest managers and growers, the contracting businesses, the processors and the end customer certainly gave Ms Porteous an advantage in her new role. “Carlie not only brings a deep understanding of the forestry value chain, but a genuine passion for the people and communities that support this truly sustainable industry,” Mr Taylor said. Ms Porteous said she was excited to be representing forest contract businesses across Australia and can’t wait to meet the members AFCA represents. “The sophistication required to run a successful forest contracting business is not necessarily well understood by broader industry,” says Ms Porteous. “It is a very exciting time to be joining the AFCA team. Industry led projects like ForestFit Certification provide a great opportunity for businesses to demonstrate the standard of professionalism in which many already operate.” Australian Forest Products Association CEO Ross Hampton said Ms Porteous had developed a positive reputation within Australia’s forest industries over the past decade, including serving on the AFPA Board as an observer over the past couple of years. “Forest contractors nationally will be well served by Carlie’s enthusiasm and experience,” he said. “Carlie Porteous has experience right across forest industries’ value chain from growers to processors and government agencies. This experience will serve her well in challenging times for the forestry harvest and haulage sector.”  

VicForests responds to ABC story on forest regeneration

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:33
A statement by VicForests’ was released as a response to an ABC report this week saying that: “The ABC can also reveal an official government investigation concluded that forests had not been regrown as required by the law — but decided it couldn’t take any action.” Source: Timberbiz VicForest stated that its responsibility is to regenerate harvested forests to the standard of the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (as amended November 2021) and the associated Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests 2021. Most of the time, areas are regenerated within three years but there is no set timeframe. Let’s be clear, we continue to regenerate our coupes until they are successfully regenerated in accordance with our obligations under the Code and the MSPs.  Our obligations are not complete, and coupes are not removed from the Timber Release Plan, until the Code regeneration standards are met, the statement said. Every year VicForests provides the Secretary of Department of Jobs, Precincts and Jobs with an Annual Harvest and Regeneration Report, which includes a finalised list of successfully regenerated coupes. Following that, when the next change to the Timber Release Plan occurs, VicForests proposes coupes that have been successfully regenerated to be removed.  That goes out for public consultation where feedback is sought from stakeholders.  Following consultation on the proposed changes to the Timber Release Plan, successfully regenerated coupes are removed from the Timber Release Plan. Any questions about the state of the coupes mentioned in the ABC story should be directed to DELWP, as it is their accountability for managing regeneration of the associated research site. Even though VicForests’ legal obligations are over once responsibility for a coupe has been regenerated and removed from the Timber Release Plan, VicForests is happy to continue to work with DELWP as the land manager to provide our forestry expertise in regenerating areas that may have been impacted by other agents such as deer browsing or bushfire. VicForests continues to work with DELWP as the forest manager to undertake any identified active forest management activities such as the recent unprecedented re-seeding program following the 2019-20 bushfires as well as revegetation and reforestation programs. The journalist was provided with the following background information ahead of publishing the story: When monitoring indicates the regeneration process has been successful, coupes may be removed from the Timber Release Plan. Successfully regenerated areas, successfully regenerated coupes and coupe finalisation lists are all different things. The difference between these is the result of how coupes are managed, and some examples are listed below: Coupes may be harvested over multiple seasons (financial years) and individual harvesting events may be seasons apart. Harvesting over multiple years can be a result of waiting for appropriate DELWP approvals to access an area, a previously inaccessible area can now be accessed from an adjacent coupe, or a court injunction has been lifted etc. This results in multiple regeneration events in the one coupe. For example, a coupe may have 15ha harvested in Feb 2011. This area is burnt and sown and 15 months or later a regeneration survey finds the harvested area is successfully regenerated. However, the coupe has a remaining harvestable area of 10ha which is planned to be harvested at a later date. Therefore, this coupe is not listed as finalised, but the harvested area is successfully regenerated within the first three years. A coupe may be harvested and successfully regenerated but is required to have a road built through it to an adjacent area. This means the coupe is not listed as finalised until that occurs. A coupe may be harvested and regenerated, but the regen survey finds a discrete unstocked area as defined in the MSPs. Despite 95% of the coupe being stocked, the unstocked area must be regenerated and surveyed before the coupe can be finalised. Where a survey finds a discrete unstocked area as defined in the MSPs, VicForests regenerates and surveys before the coupe can be finalised. Factors contributing to a drop in stock levels include animal browsing, weather, climatic influence and more recently the 2019-20 bushfires. For example, audit results in Mt Delusion, show that trees were being impacted by animal browsing and competition from dense grass cover and blackberry. In these instances, VicForests works with and provides expertise to DELWP to plan and assist in any active forest management that may be required. The regulator has not found any direct evidence that VicForests’ regeneration stocking surveys were not an accurate reflection of the regeneration status of the coupes when surveys were undertaken, or that regeneration did not comply with the Code and MSP requirements.

Opinion: Gary Blackwood – I grieve for the Victorian native timber industry

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:33
The following is an extract from the Grievance Debate in Victoria’s Legislative Assembly- Wednesday, 1 December 2021. I grieve for the Victorian native timber industry, the immediate threat to its existence caused by feral green activists, the medium-term threat to its existence posed by the Andrews government’s forestry plan and the impact of its potential closure on the economic recovery of Victoria from the COVID pandemic. Despite 94 per cent of our public native forest being excluded from harvesting, locked up in parks and reserves, leaving 6 per cent for sustainable timber production, feral green activists continue to use vexatious litigation to stop harvesting in our native forests. VicForests has defended every court case with factual evidence about their forest management practices that are held in high regard. VicForests have won outright or on appeal every case they have had to answer and defend. However, the time taken by the court process has severely impacted on their ability to maintain supply to their customers. The feral greens know this and deliberately apply for court injunctions to undermine the timber release plan. Victoria is already battling with a massive shortage of timber products, and homeowners are being slugged with massive price increases because of the enormous demand and dwindling supply. Of course, a big reason for this is the impact of the recent bushfires on our softwood plantations, where there will be a gap in supply for construction material for at least 10 years. However, the alternative, to switch to hardwood, is being undermined by the supply constraints imposed by green federal court action. Our pandemic recovery is going to be seriously hampered if our construction industry cannot be supplied with building product in a timely manner and if the contribution of around $600 million in economic activity created by the native forest industry is withdrawn. Right now we have workers at Dormit in Dandenong being stood down. Dormit manufacture pallets that are a critical accessory used in the transport of goods to supermarkets and hotels, including confectionery and many other products. The shortage of pallets is going to seriously impact the deliveries of beer and chocolates for Christmas, as the member for Murray Plains said earlier. I should not be making light of this matter because the impact is going to be devastating. My major concern is the workers and their families—stood down just before Christmas. How is their Christmas going to go? Why should they be impacted just because of the politics of a minority group who want to shut a legitimate industry down? The CFMEU manufacturing division, led by Michael O’Connor and Travis Wacey, have been extremely active in this space on behalf of their workers doing something all union organisers should take heed of—standing up for their members despite the political pain they will be subjected to. Can I quote from a recent flyer put out by the manufacturing division of the CFMEU. It says: Stop Victoria from running out of timber Tell Daniel Andrews to save timber jobs, save timber communities, and save Victorians from more pain this Christmas caused by the State’s worsening timber shortage. With shortages in Victorian timber supplies escalating because of the Andrews Government’s mismanagement of regulations meant to allow timber harvesting, urgent Government action is needed to prevent a pallet shortage impacting the delivery of goods and supermarket supplies ahead of Christmas. Forest contractors, their crews and timber workers should be busy producing timber for building supplies and to assist the economy keeping on moving by supplying pallet manufacturers with sawn timber Instead, many are already stood down and they, their families are facing a bleak Christmas as contractors are ordered out of coupes and mills run out of wood. Meanwhile, the pallet shortage could impact production and delivery of alcohol, and household supplies like toilet paper in the lead up to Christmas. And they go on to say: Call on Labor MPs to act now! Now, there is one of your own—your own union—calling out for a reasonable and sensible outcome and a reasonable and sensible amount of support to the industry from the Andrews government. In recent days there has been a flurry of activity from anti-logging activists providing information to the media that is not based on science or fact. They are desperate to bring this industry to its knees before next year’s election. It would not matter what the science is, what the facts are, what the needs are or what the alternatives are, they will continue to downgrade the importance of the industry and continue to downplay the reality of the situation in terms of science just to support their own particular agenda. The Victorian native forest industry has become the most unjustly maligned industry in Victoria over recent years, the subject of unscrupulous, false and manipulated information from pseudo-scientists using their position to cause great harm to the reputation of VicForests, which in turn undermines the security of the native timber industry and causes enormous stress to contractors, processors and their workers—an industry that has proudly provided world-renowned timber products from a renewable resource that is regrown and an industry that has shared the forest with threatened species for decades. Not one species of animal has become extinct because of timber harvesting in Victoria. The IPCC has supported the sustainable harvesting of native forest as a major contributor to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as harvested trees produce products that store carbon and the trees replanted increase our carbon sink. Indeed Senator Ciccone, the federal Labor senator for Victoria, recently referred to a paper produced by the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University. The report found that the forest industry was Australia’s greenest form of carbon capture and would need to grow to meet carbon targets. Senator Ciccone also said that radical activists needed to understand that attacking the timber industry is not going to prevent climate change. It is targeting an industry that needs to get bigger not smaller to protect our planet. So […]

Friday analysis: VicForests should be protected against vexatious litigation

Australian timber industry news - Fri, 03/12/2021 - 00:30
Lawfare. It’s a word that first saw the light of day, it is said, in the 1975 manuscript Whither Goeth the Law, which argues that the Western legal system has become overly contentious, and utilitarian as compared with the more humanitarian, norm-based Eastern system. More recently, it has become the word of choice to describe the conservation lobby’s persistent – one could say vexatious – litigation designed to tie the timber down in legal red tape. Sustainable Timber Tasmania and VicForests have been the obvious victims of late. The Bob Brown Foundation earlier this year was hounding STT. However, in June the foundation failed in its High Court bid aimed at overturning Tasmania’s Regional Forest Agreement. In a legal challenge dubbed the “Great Forest Case“ the foundation had sought leave to appeal a Federal Court judgement that agreed with Sustainable Timber Tasmania that there is a broader suite of environmental protections in force in Tasmania. The foundation argued Tasmania’s regional forestry agreement was invalid because it did not properly protect threatened native animals. The decision, to a slight degree, appeared to curb the foundation’s enthusiasm for the cause, although it’s doubtful the foundation would see it that way. They never do. They would see keeping STT tied up in litigation at huge expense as a win. Then came VicForests. The number of injunctions issued by conservation groups over logging – coupe by coupe – has had an enormous impact on VicForests. VicForests’ latest annual report shows it “has been the respondent to an unprecedented volume of third-party litigation”, which locks up coupes, delays harvesting and forces VicForests to pay harvest and haulage contractors compensation as it struggles to meet contracted log volumes. “These cases, brought by groups opposed to sustainable native timber harvesting are founded on claims that VicForests has or will breach its regulatory obligations flowing from the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014,” the report said. VicForests has put the cost at $4.8 million in 2020-21, and it appears the 2021-22 financial year is off to a bad start. Even when VicForests wins cases it has struggled to recover court-awarded costs against environment groups. This led the Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood this week to call on Victoria’s Premier to introduce legislation stopping third-party litigation. Mr Blackwood told State Parliament this week radical green groups “are intent on closing the native forest timber industry down, using court injunctions to stop VicForests from accessing timber areas that have been approved and placed on the timber release plan for harvesting”. “Just last week injunctions were imposed on 29 coupes across the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, effectively bringing the harvesting contractors to an immediate halt,” Mr Blackwood said. The judge presiding over the case had reserved his judgement. “All of these injunctions have been supported by false science and misinformation, which is why VicForests have won every case brought against them,” Mr Blackwood said. But he said the time involved in the court process had seriously hampered legitimate harvesting and had now led to sawmills and processors having to stand workers down because of lack of supply. He told parliament that VicForests had to pay compensation to customers and contractors for failing to supply product and work as per contractual agreements. There are, Mr Blackwood said, two issues at play here: firstly, the ability for a government agency to be subject to third party litigation that has proven to be vexatious; and secondly, a breach of the promise made by the Andrews government in their forest plan to maintain current supply to VicForests customers until July 2024. Good point Mr Blackwood, but a point that will probably fall on deaf ears. He also pointed out that government agencies such as the EPA have protection through legislation from litigation. The New South Wales government has also passed legislation that protects their forest industry from third party litigation. Another good point Mr Blackwood, but a point that will again probably fall on deaf ears. He posed the question: why does Victoria’s Dan Andrews continue to leave his government’s commercial arm of forestry exposed to vexatious third-party litigation designed to cripple the industry? The cynical among us could easily be drawn to the conclusion that Mr Andrews is happy with the situation that sees conservation groups choose lawfare to shut down the native timber in Victoria. The cynical among us could also easily be drawn to the conclusion that by taking this approach Mr Andrews can say his hands are clean. They aren’t.


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