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Updated: 3 min 52 sec ago

VicForests refutes claim that native logging isn’t viable

9 hours 37 min ago
VicForests CEO Monique Dawson has hit back at criticism which has questioned the economic viability of VicForests’ business model. She was commenting on an article in the Weekly Times written by Warburton Environment president Nic Fox and a VicForests logging contractor Jason McKinnell which claimed that the economic viability of native logging is ‘a myth’. Source: Timberbiz They claimed that native logging contracting businesses and native sawlog mill workers were being sold a lie: that an endless “magic pudding” of forest is forever economically viable to log and makes their jobs secure. They claimed that “the truth is the native sawlog timber, which used to be economically viable to log, is gone after decades of logging and two megafires”. Ms Dawson, in a letter of reply to the Weekly Times, said there are many claims made in the article that were not true. “It is an absolute irrefutable fact that the cumulative effect of legal action is the key reason we are not meeting supply targets,” she wrote. “This is because these legal actions specifically target planned coupes, including coupes where harvesting has commenced or is about to start. “This should be appreciated by anyone who works in our industry.” Ms Dawson said that the total impact of the 10 legal proceedings brought upon by opponents of sustainable native timber harvesting is over two million m3 of timber. This impact is almost two times the loss of supply due to the 2019-20 bushfires. “One of the opponents involved in constraining our business operations is Warburton Environment Inc, the organisation run by one of the co-authors of this piece,” Ms Dawson wrote. She denied the claim that VicForests made $38m less from log sales than it spent getting the logs and that most became woodchips. “It did not cost us more to produce the timber than what we sold it for,” she wrote. “In fact, we made a gross profit on harvesting. Our financial statements include all activities — including services we provide to government that are separate to the timber harvesting business as well as technical accounting adjustments. “Our revenue was also significantly impacted by the direct costs of litigation ($5m in 2020-21 alone) with indirect costs of litigation including stand down payments, loss of high-quality coupes, wasted roading and coupe preparation work far exceeding this. The costs include the litigation brought by one of the co-authors of this article and payments made to the other co-author.” Ms Dawson also denied claims that VicForests loss was equal to paying “380 nurses, teachers, police or firefighters for towns like Mansfield, Warburton, Healesville, Powelltown, Orbost, Bairnsdale and Mallacoota”. “There is no relationship between the revenue of VicForests and allocation of funding by the State Government to key public service roles,” she said. “VicForests, its contractors and its customers make a contribution to the Victorian economy of around $500m per year — supporting 4000 jobs. “The involvement of a member of our industry in this reporting is deeply disappointing, but we acknowledge that this is not a reflection on the industry.”

Wooden bleachers conceal student hub in Tokyo

10 hours 24 min ago
A sloped roof lined with wooden bleachers and plants conceals the student hub that Japanese studio Kengo Kuma and Associates has created for the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Sources: Kengo Kuma, Dezeen Named the Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza, the building sits partially below ground and is intended to emulate a landform or river delta “that spills into the campus” of the Japanese university. Kengo Kuma and Associates designed the building to support student interaction, incorporating spaces for co-learning, workshops and support services. Positioned at the main entrance to the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), the studio hopes that it will become a campus landmark. “This building stands near the main gate of Tokyo Tech and is a new landmark of the campus,” explained the architect in charge Toshiki Meijo. “The idea was to make the building look like a landform in order to harmonise it with the slopes scattered around the campus and the surrounding buildings,” Meijo told said. However, the bulk of the building is positioned underground, disguised by the wooden bleachers that cascade over it. The other parts of the building that are visible above ground are kept minimal with a glazed or white-painted finish. Kengo Kuma and Associates’ decision to submerge most of the building below ground was to retain views of the campus’ clock tower. “The clock tower is the oldest building in Tokyo Tech and is a true symbol of the campus,” Meijo explained. “The visibility of this clock tower is defined as important in the campus masterplan.”Access is provided by a staircase that descends one side of the building, and a second that forms part of the roof and leads up to a small terrace on the building’s first floor. The inaccessible parts of the roof are cordoned off and lined with plants. According to the studio, these plants match the greenery outside of the adjacent building called Library Hill. Kengo Kuma & Associates has accentuated the stepped form of the building internally by inserting three staggered floors of workspace beneath the rising pitch of the roof. The external staircase that descends into the building is also mirrored inside, helping to blur the boundary between interior and exterior landscape. Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza’s small upper levels are designed as an open and continuous space that “flows ambiguously without clear spatial divisions”, according to the studio. This is helped with the material palette of pared-back white furnishings and wood-lined floors that runs throughout.

EU turns to WTO about Russia trade restrictions

10 hours 25 min ago
The EU is requesting consultations with Russia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning export restrictions placed by Russia on wood products. The export restrictions consist of significantly increased export duties on certain wood products and a drastic reduction in the number of border crossing points through which exports of wood products can take place. Source: Lesprom The Russian restrictions are detrimental to the EU wood processing industry, which relies on exports from Russia, and create significant uncertainty on the global wood market. The EU has repeatedly engaged with Russia since Moscow announced these measures in October 2020, without success. They entered into force in January 2022. Specifically, the EU is challenging: The increase of export duties on certain wood products. At the WTO, Russia committed to applying export duties at rates of maximum 13%, or 15% for certain quantities of exports. By withdrawing these tariff-rate quotas, Russia now applies export duties at a much higher rate of 80%, and thereby does not respect its commitments under WTO law, according to the European Commission. The reduction of the number of border-crossing points for Russian exports of wood products into the EU. Russia has reduced the number of border crossing points handling wood exports to the EU, from more than 30 to only one (Luttya, in Finland). By prohibiting the use of existing border crossing points that are technically capable of handling such exports, Russia is violating a WTO principle forbidding such restrictions. The dispute settlement consultations that the EU has requested are the first step in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. If they do not lead to a satisfactory solution, the EU can request that the WTO set up a panel to rule on the matter, the European Commission says.

Lumber rallying again with increase in housing

10 hours 25 min ago
Lumber prices are rallying again as housing demand remains hot and supply-chain disruptions continue to drag on. A recent survey of home builders revealed that many expect lumber prices to continue to go up in 2022. Source: Business Insider Currently, the commodity is worth US$1,188 per thousand board feet, more than doubling since November, though it’s still off its all-time high of US$1,700 in May 2021. That’s when Colorado-based lumber trader Stinson Dean described that astronomical level as a “climate price.” In an interview published Wednesday in the Atlantic, he ticked off factors related to climate change that have contributed to a supply shock and sky-high lumber prices. Winter temperatures are no longer cold enough to control the population of the mountain pine beetle, which kills trees. That spurs aggressive logging to harvest trees while they are still viable for lumber. The dead trees that the beetles leave behind also exacerbate massive wildfires that have been ravaging Western regions more frequently amid a record drought and hotter temperatures. And that’s left key hubs like British Columbia vulnerable as fire-ravaged areas see mudslides during heavy rains that halt the production and distribution of lumber. Mr Dean told that Atlantic that surging lumber prices are a supply-side problem and highlighted four factors that could help bring them down. Opening up national forests to strategic, sustainable logging. “We have natural resources in the Pacific Northwest that we haven’t tapped since 1993.” Using southern yellow pine trees, which grow in the Southeast US and are in overabundance, to build homes. “Can we improve the way we process southern yellow pine so it [can be used for home building]?” Changing building codes to better utilize the lumber that’s currently available. “Can we look at some Canadian species other than the spruce? Can we use ponderosa pine from Washington? Building codes are local, so it’s a big decentralized issue.” Removing the US tax on Canadian lumber. “I don’t think if you just eliminated the tax tomorrow, prices would come down. But it would allow prices to get lower when lumber is cheap.”

China wood conference highlights development of CLBT from bamboo

10 hours 26 min ago
Engineered wood products (EWPs), including cross-laminated timber (CLT), are in increasing demand in China’s ancient building renovation or pseudo-classic building construction markets. These activities are related to China’s cultural tourism promotion. In addition, EWPs are used in delicate garden structures and landscapes. Source: Timberbiz Indufor’s Kimi Shi attended the 9th China Wood Structure Industry Conference, hosted by the China Wood Protection Industry Association (CWPIA) in Fuyang Hangzhou, in January 2022. The conference also hosted meetings of the Wood Structure Sub-council and the Ancient Architecture Construction, Repair and Protection Sub-council to be established. China is also developing cross-laminated bamboo timber (CLBT), which tests close to CLT in thermal, acoustic, vibration qualities. CLBT seems to be better than CLT on bending, elasticity, beam axial compression, and dynamic comfort qualities. The use of the Chinese bamboo forest can increase the overall application of biomass-based structures and contribute to carbon reduction.

Bowens Timber investing to reduce its carbon footprint

10 hours 26 min ago
Bowens, a fourth-generation, family-owned Australian business and market leader in supplying timber and building supplies in Australia, is investing over more than $1.2M to reduce their carbon footprint with newly installed Power Factor Correction Units and Solar Modules across their operations. Source: Timberbiz As Australia experiences a surge of new home builds and renovations up 33% since 2019, Bowens says it is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to reduced carbon emissions as a first step to tackling the output of Australian construction, as the sector makes up 18.1% of Australia’s carbon footprint. Bowens is introducing efforts to improve energy efficiencies across their stores and contribute cleaner energy to the grid through the installation of solar panels and Power Factor Correction Units. The PFCs are installed by Energy Aware across all 16 stores, with the solar installation of 1386 modules taking place by Beon Energy Solutions at Bowens manufacturing subsidiary Timbertruss in Corio, Geelong. The Timbertruss solar panel installation alone will reduce Bowen’s energy reliance by up to a third of current yearly use. “The world around us has seen a heightened focus on the environmental impacts of corporations and governments both big and small,” Bowens Chief Investment Officer, Andy Bowen, said. “It is our duty as an industry leader to play a positive role in this movement and do what we can – from recycling waste to reducing our power consumption. “Sustainability and energy efficiency is at the forefront of senior management’s long term strategic decision making. The business is investing millions of dollars in upgrading our stores and facilities, making sure that we minimise our carbon footprint at every turn,” he said. “Our ongoing commitment to helping Australians build better includes addressing long term challenges that face our industry by investing responsibly in sustainable practices. We will continue to prioritise sustainable business decisions as we deliver the highest quality building materials for all Australian builders.” The construction industry, by its very nature, is a big user of natural resources. While timber is a highly sustainable building material in terms of long-term supply, climate change remains a broader concern for all Australian industries. Business leaders must consider how short-term responsible investment protects long term output. Beon Energy Solutions’ Business Development Manager, Jeremy Mugavin said the project was worthy of celebration. “We’re pleased to partner with Bowens for this project, which is a great example of a progressive business investing in sustainable power alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint. Together with our partners at Next Generation Electrical, we’re proud to have delivered this installation on time and to the highest safety standards,” Mr Mugavin said. The mammoth project at Timbertruss includes 1386 Trina Solar Modules in an almost $1 million investment in a cleaner energy future for Bowens and their subsidiaries.  

NZ has high and rich diversity in urban trees

10 hours 27 min ago
New Zealand has encouragingly “high” and “rich” diversity among its urban trees and Canterbury maybe leading the way, a new study has found. A snapshot of New Zealand plant nurseries showed 863 different tree species were listed for sale, according to the study led by Dr Justin Morgenroth of the School of Forestry at the University of Canterbury. Source: Stuff NZ By comparison, a similar study in Utah found 262 tree species for sale. In the city of Minneapolis-Saint Paul in Minnesota, 387 species were listed. In Los Angeles County, it was 562 species. About 20% of the trees listed for sale across New Zealand were natives, the study found. This could be “considered as relatively high”, Dr Morgenroth and his colleagues wrote in the scientific paper, but there was limited international research on the point. Canterbury’s possible prominence arose from a statistical finding – the region’s nurseries listed 15 native trees that were not listed for sale in any other province. The nearest regions listed four unique native species. Canterbury nurseries also listed 60 non-native trees that were not grown elsewhere, compared to an average of about 20 for other provinces. “Growers are probably responding to the environment in which they sell,” Dr Morgenroth said. Canterbury had a diversity of ecologies – coastal Sumner to alpine Arthur’s Pass and nurseries had to predict and meet that demand for those places. The study gathered the trees listed for sale by 75 nurseries in 2017-18. The purpose was understanding urban tree diversity, how it could be increased, and the roll that nurseries played. There was an “abundance of evidence” that a large proportion of trees were sourced from nurseries and many of them were commercial enterprises. Market forces influenced tree diversity. “Popular species that will sell (based on historical sales data) and those that are easy to grow and maintain are commonly produced, whereas unpopular species that are unlikely to sell are largely avoided,” wrote the authors. “As such, the incentive for nurseries to trial new species can be low and the overproduction of a small number of popular species and cultivars can occur.” Nonetheless, the 863 tree species listed by New Zealand nurseries a few years ago was “huge” and suggested that urban forest biodiversity was “rich”. Dr Morgenroth thought native tree planting had increased markedly since he gathered the data. He had a companion study underway to understand how councils influenced tree demand and hoped to repeat the nursery list study in a few years to track changes.

WA’s sandalwood regeneration program benefits from wet weather

10 hours 27 min ago
A year of above average rainfall in drought-affected rangeland areas has stimulated a mass germination of new wild sandalwood seedlings planted by the Forest Products Commission. The FPC’s wild sandalwood regeneration program is reaping the benefits of a wet winter, with seed that has remained dormant due to drought conditions now germinating up to five years after it was sown. Source: Timberbiz Each year, the FPC actively sows more wild sandalwood than it harvests. The FPC sows between 5 million and 10 million wild sandalwood seeds annually, across an area equivalent to the distance between Perth and Karratha (1,500km). This enormous effort is making a significant contribution to the recruitment of young sandalwood seedlings back into natural populations in the rangeland’s environment. “The recent wet winter conditions have resulted in large-scale germination of wild sandalwood seed, some of which were sown up to five years ago. Sandalwood seeds can remain viable in the ground between three and five years,” Director New Business and Innovation John Tredinnick said. “We are thrilled to see many years of work, research and continued regeneration efforts in drought conditions result in a new cohort of viable young wild sandalwood trees, including in areas which have had no successful regeneration in 60 years. “Contributing to the ongoing regeneration program are Aboriginal contractors who will plant 1.4 tonnes of sandalwood seed on Country this year alone,” he said. Wild sandalwood harvesting is managed under strict sustainability criteria, set by the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), with regeneration requirements and minimum size limits clearly established. Further, half the permitted annual harvest is of trees that have already died naturally. To increase wild sandalwood regeneration, the FPC establishes young sandalwood seedlings within natural vegetation, including current harvest operation areas, previously harvested areas, and conservation estates where natural sandalwood is in decline. Forty years of inventory and research has attributed the natural decline of wild sandalwood to the disappearance of small marsupials dispersing and burying seeds, overgrazing and reduced winter rainfall patterns, rather than harvesting. The FPC has invested in plantation sandalwood to complement the wild sandalwood market and, over the past 25 years, the FPC has significantly contributed to the development of successful sandalwood plantation establishment methods.

Detached homes on the rise

10 hours 28 min ago
More detached homes commenced construction in the 12 months to September 2021 than in any previous period. Lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne resulted in a sharp contraction in new detached home starts in the September quarter, with a 16.5% contraction compared to the record high of the previous quarter. Source: Timberbiz “The decline in new home commencements in the September quarter was not a reflection of a slowing market, with other indicators, such as building approvals, showing a continued strong pipeline,” HIA Economist Tom Devitt said. “There were almost 36,000 new house commencements in the September quarter. Despite the decline, this is still stronger than any quarter before the mid-2020 introduction of the HomeBuilder grant. “This puts detached house commencements over the last 12 months at 149,345, a new record high and 12.8% above the pre-HomeBuilder record of 132,377 in 1988/89,” he said. There were also more than 20,500 new multi-unit commencements in the September quarter. This was down by 15.8% on the previous quarter. “Despite this September quarter contraction, multi-unit commencements were also still up by 11.7% for the year,” Mr Devitt said. “The current boom is expected to continue supporting strong levels of employment into 2023, aided further by record low interest rates and the pandemic pushing households towards lower density living. “Strong employment conditions, rising house prices and consumer confidence are also continuing to support housing demand,” he said. “The constraint on home building is not demand but the availability of land, labour and materials. The shortage of labour and materials has led to construction timeframes increasing significantly. Under normal circumstances, the surge of HomeBuilder projects would have translated into an increase in completions from the June 2021 quarter. However, completions have been slower to respond. As a result, the volume of approved-but-not-yet-commenced work is at its highest level in over a decade.” All states and territories saw declines in the September 2021 quarter in new house commencements, led by the Northern Territory (-65.5%), Western Australia (-28.0%), Queensland (-24.6%), Tasmania (-24.2%), the Australian Capital Territory (-11.9%), and New South Wales (-11.3%), Victoria (-11.0%) and South Australia (-8.6%). A few states saw increases in multi-unit commencements in the quarter, led by Tasmania (+240.4%), Western Australia (+37.2%) and Victoria (+17.0%). The other jurisdictions saw declines, led by the Northern Territory (-46.7 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-42.4%), Queensland (-35.2%), South Australia (-33.4%) and New South Wales (-32.6%).

PFT Trees on Farms Grants’ program extensions

10 hours 29 min ago
Due to overwhelming interest, Private Forests Tasmania’s Trees on Farms Grants Program has extended the closing date for applications to 11.59pm on Monday 7 February 2022. Source: Timberbiz The program, which was developed to assist farmers with upfront establishment costs of commercial shelterbelts, woodlots and other associated farm forestry plantings while improving farm productivity, has received a large number of inquiries. It is hoped that the extension to the application closing date will allow landholders more time to prepare applications and liaise with their consultants in the process. For additional information, grant guidelines and online application form, please select the link below or phone our team on 1300 661 009 to speak with a professional private forester.  

Japan explores wooden sidewalks for safety and sustainability

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:46
The idea for a wooden sidewalk came to Akihiko Higuchi after his grandmother lost her eyesight. Instead of a sidewalk of asphalt, could one be made with something else that is safer for the visually impaired? The answer was wood, which also made it eco-friendly. Source: Inquirer Kyushu University Associate Prof Akihiko Higuchi is now leading a team that is refining a sidewalk it created using wood from cedar trees, with the aim of preventing the visually impaired from accidentally entering a road by having the sidewalk make a different sound from asphalt when hit with a cane. The project also incorporates the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by using wood, as well as by making the underlying beams from recycled plastic bottle caps. By placing the planks of cedar on top of the beams, it creates a cavern under the walkway, enhancing sound that travels through it — such as the tapping of a cane. As cedar has a certain softness, it also provides a different feeling than walking on asphalt. Higuchi, who teaches landscape design, started his research in 2007 after his grandmother lost her eyesight due to an illness. At first, the team made a sidewalk with a rough surface, but found it was not much different than a conventional sidewalk. Then on a lark, the team tried a sidewalk like a wooden deck and found it did the trick. They chose cedar as a material as it is relatively easy to procure. The team carried out an experiment in which 101 visually impaired people were asked to tap on three different sidewalk-like structures with their canes. One was made of concrete, another asphalt, and the third cedar. Ninety-eight of them could distinguish the difference in sound. In another test on prototype sidewalks, none went out into the road from the cedar sidewalk. Chizuko Hashiguchi, 71, a participant in the study from Fukuoka, said she had an incident on a sidewalk a year ago. When she tried to go around a car parked on the sidewalk, she lost her sense of direction and didn’t notice when she walked out into the road. A passerby called “Watch out!” and pulled her back. “It’s easy to recognize because of the sound as I tapped,” Hashiguchi said about walking on the cedar walkway. “It’s also a different feeling while walking, and I would notice if I stepped off it. “I hope it will be built on streets that are on public transportation routes,” she added. One problem was with the durability of the wood, as cedar is easily damaged by insects and rot. For that reason, the team used technology developed by Kyushu University to solidify cell walls by injecting resin. Studies show this can prevent decay for more than 20 years. The technology was put into practical use with the cooperation of the Fukuoka prefectural government and Kyushu Mokuzai Kougyou Co, a company based in Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture, that specializes in timber preservation and insect-proofing. The technology was used in renovation work at Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site in Hiroshima Prefecture. A Kyushu Mokuzai official proudly claims that wood processed with the technology “loses nothing to stone or concrete.” Higuchi points out that while production costs are twice that of asphalt, there is also the advantage that sections that are damaged can be easily replaced. The prefectural government has begun studies into implementing the wooden sidewalks and checked out the prototype at Kyushu University at the end of last year. “We will do research on durability in places where cars will constantly cross over it, and issues related to maintenance,” an official said. “We hope to use it if we can find appropriate places.” From the perspective of SDGs, the sidewalks offer a benefit because they have captured carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and stored it the wood. According to calculations made by Higuchi’s team, a sidewalk four meters wide and 100 meters long made of cedar wood would weigh as much as 5.6 tons. Of that amount, 2.8 tons is carbon that originated from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that was captured as the tree grew. “It can be said that wood sidewalks are storing carbon dioxide captured from the air. Unlike asphalt and concrete, which use large amounts of energy and emit carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process, the more these are put in place, the more they can help combat global warming,” Higuchi said.

US launches 10-year strategy to fight wildfires with Forestry Service

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:46
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore have launched a comprehensive response to the nation’s growing wildfire crisis – “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis: A Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests.” Source: Timberbiz The strategy outlines the need to significantly increase fuels and forest health treatments to address the escalating crisis of wildfire danger that threatens millions of acres and numerous communities across the United States. The Forest Service will work with other federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior, and with Tribes, states, local communities, private landowners, and other partners to focus fuels and forest health treatments more strategically and at the scale of the problem, based on the best available science. The strategy highlights new research on what Forest Service scientists identified as high risk “firesheds” – large, forested landscapes with a high likelihood that an ignition could expose homes, communities, infrastructure and natural resources to wildfire. Firesheds, typically about 250,000 acres in size, are mapped to match the scale of community exposure to wildfire. The Forest Service will use this risk-based information to engage with partners and create shared priorities for landscape scale work, to equitably and meaningfully change the trajectory of risk for people, communities and natural resources, including areas important for water, carbon and wildlife. The groundwork in this new strategy will begin in areas identified as being at the highest risk, based on community exposure. Additional high-risk areas for water and other values are being identified. Some of the highest risk areas based on community exposure include the Pacific Northwest, the Sierra Nevada Range in California, the front range in Colorado, and the Southwest. The strategy calls for the Forest Service to treat up to an additional 20 million acres on national forests and grasslands and support treatment of up to an additional 30 million acres of other federal, state, Tribal, private and family lands. Fuels and forest health treatments, including the use of prescribed fire and thinning to reduce hazardous fuels, will be complemented by investments in fire-adapted communities and work to address post-fire risks, recovery and reforestation. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly US$3 billion to reduce hazardous fuels and restore America’s forests and grasslands, along with investments in fire-adapted communities and post fire reforestation. Funds will be used to begin implementing this critical work. In 2020, 2017, and 2015, more than 10 million acres burned nationwide, an area more than six times the size of Delaware. In the past 20 years, many states have had record catastrophic wildfires, harming people, communities and natural resources and causing billions of dollars in damage. In 2020, Coloradans saw all three of their largest fires on record. The running 5-year average number of structures destroyed by wildfires each year rose from 2,873 in 2014 to 12,255 in 2020 – a fourfold increase in just six years. “The negative impacts of today’s largest wildfires far outpace the scale of efforts to protect homes, communities and natural resources,” said Mr Vilsack. “Our experts expect the trend will only worsen with the effects of a changing climate, so working together toward common goals across boundaries and jurisdictions is essential to the future of these landscapes and the people who live there.” Mr Moore said: “We already have the tools, the knowledge and the partnerships in place to begin this work in many of our national forests and grasslands, and now we have funding that will allow us to build on the research and the lessons learned to address this wildfire crisis facing many of our communities. “We want to thank Congress, the President and the American people for entrusting us to do this important work.”

Koskisen to use bio-based binder in new furniture board

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:45
Finnish plywood manufacturer Koskisen is the first company to start using a bio-based binder NeoLigno by Stora Enso in its new sustainable product family. Source: Timberbiz Koskisen and Stora Enso’s co-operation has resulted in the world’s first entirely bio-based furniture board, called Zero Furniture Board. Koskisen uses Stora Enso’s bio-based binder, NeoLigno, to replace fossil-based resins used in furniture boards. Both the furniture board raw material and the binder are sourced from the production process flows of both companies. This results in all raw materials of the Zero board being entirely bio-based. ”Our new Zero product family meets the rising demand for bio-based solutions from both domestic and export markets. These new products allow furniture manufacturers to offer alternatives with improved sustainability and health security,” Koskisen Head of Product Management and R&D Timo Linna said. Previously, as a byproduct of the pulp industry, lignin has been typically utilised as bioenergy in energy production. NeoLigno serves as an example of how Stora Enso can increase the value of lignin without increasing the use of wood. “Stora Enso has been refining lignin commercially since 2015. NeoLigno is our first own binder that replaces fossil-based adhesives,” Lauri Lehtonen, Head of Innovation of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division said. Koskisen is the first company to utilise NeoLigno in industrial production. The Zero Furniture Board will be commercially available in Q3 2022.

Taste test for forestry work

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:44
Forestry’s future workforce has received a boost through a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) New Zealand and an Otago secondary school. Source: Timberbiz MPI funded a two-week silviculture course for students at Milton’s Tokomairiro High School to support them going into employment or enrolling in the school’s one-year forestry training course called Tokomairiro Training. “The new taster course, which was funded in December 2021, was set up to get students thinking about a career in forestry,” says Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s manager – skills, training and workplace safety, Marion Schrama. “They were able to learn some basic skills, gain NCEA credits, and understand what is required for working in silviculture. The standards assessed for the course were all pre-requisites to joining the industry. “The students also have the potential of enrolling for the full Tokomairiro Training course. Whether they choose to enrol in the course or work in the sector, they learn about health and safety, chainsaw use and maintenance, and pruning which are essential in silviculture and forestry.” Otago/Southland is the second-largest wood supply area in New Zealand and there is a shortage of young people choosing forestry as a career path. Marion Schrama says companies are calling out for more workers to meet the demands in both silviculture and harvesting. “Forestry as a whole will benefit from the young people developing an interest in the sector. By partnering with the school, we can inspire young people and their whānau to view forestry as a career path full of opportunity, in particular year 12 and 13 school students, and those at risk of leaving school without any immediate future career plans.” Tokomairiro Training program manager Lynda Allan says the two-week taster course provided a valuable insight into a potential career in forestry. “Feedback from our first taster program was extremely positive and everyone who took part gained skills they can use to further their employment opportunities. Seventy-five percent of students in the program are planning on completing further training in forestry, and we are anticipating a number of them are going to enrol in our year-long program. “There are great career opportunities in forestry, specially here in the Southland/Otago region. Students can go straight from training into full employment or learn on the job.” MPI director investment skills and performance, Cheyne Gillooly, says MPI’s Primary Sector Workforce Program was pleased to be able to support the pilot forestry taster course with Tokomairiro Training. “Forestry is a key industry within our primary sector, and the recent release of the latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries in December 2021 forecasts that the sector will continue to grow, only increasing the need for young New Zealanders to move into the industry. We want young people to look to forestry as an exciting and innovative career option.” Tokomairiro Training is a unit under the umbrella of Tokomairiro High School. The unit offers a year-long programme where secondary school students spend two days each week in the Forestry Pathways Training course. Both the one-year and the MPI funded taster course gives the participants credits towards NCEA qualifications, promotes forestry as a career, and provides skills for future employment in the sector.

WA forestry workers frozen in limbo over support packages with more delays

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:44
The WA Government has been told to stop dragging its feet over the Native Forest Transition Group and its subgroups which were set up to supply support packages for workers affected by the State Government’s contentious decision to ban native logging by 2024. Source: Timberbiz The Native Forest Transition Group’s subgroups, the Business Transition Subgroup and Worker Transition Subgroup, were scheduled to meet this week to progress development of worker and business support package. However, the meetings were cancelled with the State Government claiming it needed more time to prepare draft packages for the consideration of the subgroups, even though draft packages had been prepared and considered back in November last year. Forest Industries Federation WA Chief Executive Officer Adele Farina said this was unacceptable and called on the government to stop dragging its feet and remove its vicelike grip over the NFTG and its subgroups. “When announcing its decision to cease native forestry by the end of 2023, the State Government promised to support workers, businesses and communities through the transition process,” Ms Farina said. “That was more than four months ago. Workers and businesses are still waiting on the government to finalise the promised support packages.” Ms Farina said the transition process had been hindered by the State Government’s vicelike grip on the work of the NFTG and the subgroups. She said everything was vetted by the State Government before being presented at a meeting, micro-managing the work of the NFTG and subgroups and preventing them from doing the work they have been appointed to do. This is unnecessarily prolonging the finalisation of vital support packages. “Members of the subgroups were told they would be working with government to draft the packages, but this isn’t the case,” Ms Farina said. “The packages are being drafted by faceless men and women with no real understanding of the impact of the government’s decision on timber businesses and workers. This leads to bad decisions and is not what the government promised. The process is a sham. “That the State Government would engage in such conduct knowing the detrimental impact its decision and the delay in finalising packages is having on impacted businesses and workers is shameful.” Last month, after cancelling the scheduled December meeting of the Business Subgroup, Forestry Minister Dave Kelly claimed the State Government had expected the packages to have been finalised by early January and falsely accused industry of delaying finalisation of the support packages. “The claim when made was absurd and strongly refuted by industry,” Ms Farina said. “If there was any doubt, this cancellation of the subgroup meetings makes clear the fault for the delays rests solely with the State Government.” It has been almost two months since the last Business Subgroup meeting was held on November 25, 2021, and since then, there has been no government consultation with industry or subgroup members with respect to the drafting of the packages. With no further meetings of the Business or Worker Subgroups scheduled before the next meeting of the NFTG to be held on February 3, it appears the packages will not be presented to the February NFTG meeting, unless the government proposes to do so by bypassing the subgroups it established to draft the packages. “This would be the final insult in what has been a shambolic process to date,” Ms Farina said. “How much pain and uncertainty does this government want to inflict on timber businesses and workers? “For more than four months Industry has been urging the government for clarity and certainty. Industry has no greater clarity and certainty today than it had when the announcement was made. “Industry calls on the Government to remove its vicelike grip on the process and immediately convene meetings of the subgroups to progress the support packages.” WA’s forestry industry contributes $1.4 billion to the WA economy annually and supports about 6000 jobs, with more than 90% of those jobs located in regional communities.

Scholarships for women in Tas forestry open

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:42
Two scholarships for women in the Tasmanian forests or forest products industry to undertake the AICD Foundations of Directorship online course have been made available with support from the Department of Communities. Source: Timberbiz The AICD program provides foundational knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of boards and directors. Applications open today and close on 11 February at 5pm AEDT. The scholarships are for two full-fee places in AICD Foundations of Directorship Online Course delivered in May, June and July 2022. These scholarships will also include a one-year membership to the AICD. The full course schedule is available at Foundations of Directorship Online (companydirectors.com.au). Delivered by AICD, this is a structured 11-week program that combines virtual classroom sessions, online learning activities and individual study with support from a team of experienced faculty members and a dedicated Learning Support Executive. Topics covered by the program include Governance for Directors, Finance for Directors and Strategy and Risk for Directors. More information on the program is available at the Foundations of Directorship website. For details contact Tracey Taylor at TFFPN on 0499 623 791 or email Tracey.Taylor@tffpn.com.au

Green Triangle Timber awards take another Covid hit

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:41
The Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards night set down for 11 March has been postponed again due to Covid. Source: Timberbiz Initially planned for 29 October last year, the event was postponed then because of the pandemic. The 2020 event was cancelled for the same reasons. The committee is yet to determine a revised date and is waiting for new directives and health advice. “Due to the current Covid-19 activity restrictions in South Australia and more importantly, with the health and safety of our attendees and the local industry in mind, the GTTIA Committee feel that this is the most appropriate and responsible action to take,” the organisation said. “Our sponsors are key to the ongoing success of the event, and we appreciate their continuing support during this challenging time. “The GTTIA Committee are dedicated to ensuring that our award finalists and industry contributors are recognised and celebrated for their incredible achievements.”

New plantation forestry method will expand tree estates

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:41
New forestry methods will give farmers, businesses and industries the ability to earn revenue through projects which will help Australia achieve its emissions reduction targets. Source: Timberbiz The new methods cover blue carbon, plantation forestry, abatement from industrial and commercial processes, and biomethane. Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said expanding the supply of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) gives businesses and customers the option to offset their emissions where it makes sense for them to do so. “The Emissions Reduction Fund is working. Since 2014, the ERF has committed $2.2 billion to projects across Australia, many in regional and rural areas,” Mr Taylor said. “The ERF has already delivered more than 100 million tonnes of abatement and these new methods will bring on even more projects and abatement.” The Australian Forest Products Association says the changes will streamline opportunities for planting trees and retain current forest lands to help combat climate change. The changes will assist tree companies make the decision to proceed to expand their estates. The changes will also allow new sandalwood and African mahogany plantations to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund. “Professional forestry experts worked for many months with the Government to develop these changes which will be very helpful for tree planting companies seeking to participate in the Government’s voluntary ERF where eligible activities can earn Australian Carbon Credit Units,” AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said. One ACCU is equivalent to one tonne of carbon removed from or avoided in the atmosphere and can be sold by companies to generate income, either to the government through reverse auction or in the secondary market. “Forest industries have enormous potential to help Australia meet its net zero by 2050 commitment. As trees sequester carbon whilst growing, the carbon continues to be stored in timber products and the cycle recommences when the replanting of some 70 million trees takes place each winter,” Mr Hampton said. The Government’s “Growing A Better Australia – A billion trees for jobs and growth” plan is seeking to plant an additional 400,000ha of production tree plantings which according to recent modelling can capture between 150 to 210Mt C02-e by 2050. “Promoting more production tree planting is a win, win, win for Australia,” Mr Hampton said. “Not only will it help meet our climate goals, it also provides a number of co-benefit outcomes such as helping to generate new income for landowners, increasing biodiversity and habitat for wildlife, while helping to supply the vitally needed timber which our builders are so desperate for and increasing carbon stores in the built environment. “Forest industries look forward to further announcements from the Government regarding removing regulatory barriers so that timber plantations in all key forestry regions can participate in the ERF,” he said.

Opinion: Jack Bradshaw – Strip mining strips WA forests but that’s okay by McGowan

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:40
  In September 2021 the WA government announced that all native forest logging would cease in 2024, the end of the current 10-year Forest Management Plan. Source: Australian Rural & Regional News From that time, timber taken from native forests would be “limited to forest management activities that improve forest health and clearing for approved mining operations, such as Alcoa.” The decision was made without consultation with the timber industry, the public or even government agencies. The reasons given for the decision were to ‘save’ the forest and to preserve carbon stocks. Future timber supplies would come from softwood plantations, boosted by 33,000 ha of plantation to be established over the next 10 years. Under current legislation the Forest Management Plan is prepared every 10 years by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions for the Conservation Commission. The plan governs the activities with the public south-west forests and includes recommendation for conservation reserves, the amount of timber that may be removed each year and the conditions under which it is done. It is developed after extensive public consultation. The recent decision pre-empts most of the task of the Management Plan. Strip mining for bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is produced, is conducted by Alcoa and South32 under State Agreement Act leases that cover 47% of the public south-west forests. The Forest Management Plan has no control or influence over mining activities. Bauxite mining in the Jarrah forest started in 1965 with a government commitment to mine 10 ha per year. Mining has progressively increased to 1000 ha per year with a proposal for further expansion and includes the mining of 2M tonnes of unrefined bauxite for direct export. 90,000 ha of the best Jarrah forest has been mined or is fragmented by mining to the present time. Despite the fact that strip mining completely removes the forest and its carbon stocks as well as much of the soil that the forest grows in, it will still continue under the government’s new policy. Jack Bradshaw is a retired forester, based in Western Australia.  

Friday analysis: Loopholes make wriggle room in Sustainable Forests Act

Fri, 21/01/2022 - 00:36
It could be argued, mischievously perhaps, that loopholes are sometimes deliberately included in government-created rules and regulations to provide some wriggle room for various parties. Why else would a loophole exist in the Sustainable Forests Act which has enabled activist vigilantes to devastate the livelihoods of regional Victorians? It is a silly proposition of course to suggest loopholes are “created”, but once identified, why aren’t they shut down as quickly as practicable? As Forest and Wood Communities Australia pointed out this week, unlike the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Section 347), the Sustainable Forests Act fails to specify just who has the authority to take legal proceedings for even the most minor breaches. “It’s a loophole which was exploited in the Supreme Court at the end of last year as part of a well-orchestrated attack on timber communities by self-interested activist groups,” FWCA managing director Justin Law said. “It has crippled timber supply when we need it most and is putting hundreds of Victorians out of work as contractor crews are stood down and mills close.” Mr Law suggests that by leaving open the back door and giving power to vigilante anti-forestry activists, the State Government is failing to keep its promise of ensuring supply until 2030 unhindered by vexatious litigation. “Or is it part of the plan to get activists to do their dirty work?” he asked. Suddenly, the original thought – that loopholes are created, or even ignored, to create wriggle room – is not as silly as it sounds. Especially when, as Mr Law points out, it could be fixed by simply introducing the appropriate clause from the Environment Protection Act into the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004. The Opposition in Victoria is currently drafting legislation to block anti-logging activists using the courts to delay or halt native timber harvesting. Such legislation is desperately needed. VicForests currently faces 10 court actions by environmental groups, with one of those leading Supreme Court Justice Melinda Jane Richards to last month slap injunctions on any coupe where a Greater Glider possum has been spotted. But, sadly, the chances of such legislation ever going the distance are moot while Labor is in power in Victoria. The State election, due in November, may hold a solution, but it’s going to take a lot of work. Meanwhile the Victorian Government seems to be maintaining its course of restricting industry access to state forests. It announced this week it was “taking the next steps to engage Victorians in determining new conservation, recreation and tourism opportunities in Immediate Protection Areas’’. The Immediate Protection Areas − made up of more than 146,000 hectares of state forest located in Mirboo North, Strathbogie Ranges, Central Highlands and East Gippsland − were protected from timber harvesting in 2019 due to their precious biodiversity. The Eminent Panel for Community Engagement, established to lead conversations with Victorian communities on the future care and management of the land, will work with the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council which is already assessing the environmental, recreation and other values in Immediate Protection Areas in Mirboo North and Strathbogie Ranges. Work in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland will start in mid-2022. The panel will present a report and recommendations to the government on Mirboo North and Strathbogie Ranges in mid-2022. Community engagement on Central Highlands and East Gippsland will begin later in 2022. Since 2019 the Victorian Government has added more than 250,000 hectares of protected forests in Victoria – including 96,000 hectares of Immediate Protection Areas, 65,106 hectares for the new Central West National Parks and 90,000 hectares of old growth. Make of that what you will. It would be wrong to suggest that the timber industry should be allowed free reign in Victoria’s State forests. Restrictions are necessary. But this latest step does seem a little like the State Government wants to restrict the State’s native forestry industry to death.

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by Dr. Radut