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Planting more trees is not the only answer

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 03:11
Responding to the announcement that planting more trees will help New Zealand achieve its’ 2050 climate goals, land restoration company Tāmata Hauhā is urging the Government to stop solely relying on the Climate Change Commission’s advice which lacks a practical understanding of forestry and fails to consider the significant decarbonisation benefits of planting alterative varieties of trees. Source: Timberbiz Blair Jamieson, CEO of Tāmata Hauhā emphasised the need for a more diverse approach to tree planting. He pointed out that methodologies already in practice by companies like Tāmata Hauhā could save up to 70m tonnes of CO2 just through applying a different mix of species. “Simply planting more trees isn’t the answer,” said Jamieson. “The fundamental flaw with the Government’s proposed strategy is it does not fully account for the potential of alternative tree varieties, such as many hardwoods, to enhance carbon sequestration. “If we are serious about achieving our emissions reduction goals then we need to stop depending on spreadsheet models, which at best are flawed, and start replicating [at scale] evidence-based innovative solutions that look beyond the traditional combination of pine monoculture and the native-only approach. Tāmata Hauhā’s call for action comes as the Government plans to expand tree planting initiatives as part of its efforts to meet its 2050 climate goals. However, Mr Jamieson believes a broader, more practical, perspective is required to maximise these efforts. “By focusing solely on ‘desk-top’ based advice from the Climate Change Commission, we’re missing out on a massive opportunity to implement more effective and sustainable practices,” he added. The company highlights that several alternative tree varieties are already proving to offer superior decarbonisation benefits compared to conventional options. These varieties not only absorb more carbon dioxide but also contribute to soil health, biodiversity, and long-term environmental stability. According to Tāmata Hauhā, the methodologies adopted by companies like theirs could save up to 70 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050, without increasing the amount of land already projected for planting. “These figures demonstrate the profound impact that innovative tree planting strategies can have on our climate goals,” said Mr Jamieson. “We’ve known for years that we haven’t been doing enough so its more critical than ever that the strategies we adopt will generate the best outcomes for our environment and future generations.” Tāmata Hauhā is committed to working with the Government, scientists, and other stakeholders to develop and implement a more comprehensive tree planting strategy. The company’s extensive research and practical experience in land restoration provide a solid foundation for recommending approaches that can drive significant climate benefits.

New harvester from Sampo Rosenlew

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:41
Sampo Rosenlew has launched a brand new six-wheel HR56 harvester. One of the hallmarks of the company’s machines has been their suitability for thinning young forests, so the new model is a natural step in the development of its range. Source: Timberbiz The HR56 is based on the company’s best-selling HR46x four-wheel harvester with new features that improve efficiency and productivity. The familiar components used in the construction of the machine combined with the tried and tested technical solutions ensure low operating and maintenance costs. The HR56 is now equipped with a Logmer crane with 10-meters reach and also has a new front bogie, so the surface pressure exerted on the ground by the six-wheeled machine is low. The front bogie combined with a low centre of gravity make the machine stable to work with. The HR56 harvester is an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly choice for thinning and harvesting energy wood. It is a comprehensively sensible package with low operating and maintenance costs.

Pirelli’s FSC-certified racing bicycle tyre

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:40
The introduction of the first-ever FSC-certified racing bike tyre – the P ZERO Race RS – is a milestone in the world of cycling. Source: Timberbiz Developed by leading tyre manufacturer Pirelli, the P ZERO Race RS contains sustainably sourced natural rubber, which makes up 23% of the tyre’s materials. This groundbreaking innovation in manufacturing represents a significant step forward in the quest for sustainable cycling solutions. The tyre made its debut on the road as the official tyre for Team Lidl-Trek. Natural rubber has been a cornerstone of tyre manufacturing for decades, valued for its superior elasticity, resilience, and durability. However, the environmental impact of its production has raised concerns, as traditional rubber harvesting can lead to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and significant carbon emissions. The new FSC-certified tyre addresses these issues: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification ensures that the natural rubber used in the tyre is sourced from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. “The decision to use more and more FSC-certified natural rubber in our products is in line with Pirelli’s concern for nature and biodiversity” explained Piero Misani, Pirelli’s Chief Technical Officer. “But also with the desire to bring benefits to the people and workers from which natural rubber is derived. It’s an environmental and social commitment accompanied by the search for high performance without discounting safety to meet the demands of the most demanding professional cyclists and amateurs.” The new tyre was premiered at Eurobike 2024 the a central platform for the cycling and eco-mobility industry and will soon become available at major retailers globally. Its certification will be highlighted by the FSC logo engraved on its sidewall, making Pirelli’s commitment to sustainability and responsible resource use even more visible. “Sourcing natural rubber sustainably is crucial to protecting our world’s forests,” says Fabian Farkas, Chief Commercial Officer at FSC International. “Pirelli’s initiative to introduce FSC-certified bicycle tyres demonstrates a continued commitment to furthering a recreational activity that has long been associated with healthy and sustainable living.” The introduction of the P ZERO Race RS FSC-certified natural rubber racing bicycle tyre (FSC N003618) marks a significant step towards a greener future for the cycling industry, aligning with the growing demand for sustainable products and practices and reflecting a broader shift in consumer consciousness. It also sets a precedent for other manufacturers, demonstrating that high performance and environmental stewardship can go together.

The continuing struggle in PNG to save forests

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:40
After what is left of forests in the Amazon and the Congo, the next of the planet’s most important remaining forests is on the island of New Guinea. Source: RNZ In both Papua New Guinea and Indonesian controlled West Papua, the harvesting and exporting of logs, often done illegally, remains a threat for the environment and the indigenous peoples. In PNG there have been attempts by governments to rein in the offenders going back more than 30 years, but the usually large, well-funded foreign conglomerates undertaking the logging, still find ways to circumvent the rules. A commission of inquiry was set up in the late 1980s. PNG Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker said all but two businesses then were breaching the law. “The Commission of Inquiry recommended some very strong actions to address the issue and it resulted in a whole gamut of reforms, including a new forest policy, [resulting] in the Forestry Act in 1991.” He said this required a much more extensive process of landowner participation in an effort to ensure that decisions were not made by “a few possibly illiterate community leaders just signing a document and giving everyone’s land resource and forest resource away”. It required new forest management agreements (FMAs), to replace the local forest agreements, and these new deals had to be run on a sustainable, 30-year cycle, at the least. But Barker said even now those local forest agreements are still being rolled over. He said only a limited number of the FMAs were signed up, mostly during the 1990s when large operators from Sarawak arrived. Barker said these big players had worked out “how to take over the clan land in Borneo and use it for themselves. They use models from there and managed to get large tracts of land here, and they didn’t like all these procedures that are there in law. So, they worked out all the ways to sort of bypass them.” “They used timber authorities, which are actually only for small areas, like 50-hectare blocks, if you’re going to build a road, or if you’re going to set up a small cocoa block or something like that. They use them for multiple and large areas, including for log exporting.” Another forestry review came with the government of Sir Mekere Morauta at the beginning of this century which found many of the proposed and ongoing projects to be in breach. Barker said officials then resurrected an old scheme from the 1970s, classifying some land that had trees on it as agricultural land. The use of these Special Agricultural and Business Leases, or SABLs, quickly became notorious and another commission of inquiry was set up. “The laws from the 1970s, [were] for small 20-hectare coffee blocks in the Highlands and cocoa blocks around the country. They were not for these vast areas. And the commission of inquiry found that basically all the SABLs were acquired inappropriately. “They didn’t follow proper process of free, prior, informed consent by the landowners. So, they basically were land grabs. So, the commission inquiry found that they were all basically illegal.” But forestry officials then circumvented this by deeming that if the SABL included what was called a ‘forest conversion agreement’ this allowed the Forest Authority to be able to wash its hands of the matter and say, ‘Oh these are for conversion to agriculture or other purposes. “So, we’ll just approve if [Dept of] Agriculture says that they’re genuine agricultural projects, we’ll just say, okay, that’s fine. We’ll just give them an FCA [Forest Clearing Authority] and they can go ahead. So, what’s happened is, after the commission of inquiry found all the SABLs were basically illegal, illegally acquired, land grabbing,”” said Barker. He said the Forest Authority continued issuing FCAs if they received a letter from the Department of Agriculture, saying these were agricultural projects, so allowing the Forest Authority to wash its hands of these contracts. But they didn’t involve free, prior and informed consent. They didn’t involve any of the processes that the Forest Authority well knew it must comply with. “It was a scam to be able to go on logging in a large way without having to comply with the Forestry Act. Barker said some were turned into oil palm projects, but these did not comply with the sustainability requirements that earlier, more established oil palm operations had, He said it is well known that when they are dealing with landowners they are paying them a pittance, “and landowners in most cases are very peeved because they’ve basically been displaced from their own land, displaced from their forests and suffering from a lot of pollution”. The logging companies do ensure they are keeping some of the people on board, making sure they can act on their behalf, “but nevertheless, basically, as per the SABL Inquiry Report, these are illegal land grabs, and they remain as such,” Barker said. According to Barker, over the years many staff in the Forest Authority and Customs, Foreign Affairs, Labour Department, and others, have wanted to take action. But “invariably, they’ve seen their bosses, often their ministers, directing, even if they don’t actually have legal powers to direct, but persuading them that they shouldn’t take action.” He said, “companies have had incessant free rein to continue even though the staff have attempted to apply a notice to show cause or other grounds for revocation of their licence, or permit.” PNG does earn some money from these large multinational logging companies through log export tax. For the past 20 years until the beginning of this year, PNG also operated the independent log export monitor, checking the shipments and making sure that the logs and quantity declared are the ones harvested. “They don’t suddenly increase in quantities, change in both quantities and in grades and species’ specifications as they go down the value chain, because that’s basically what was always happening, you’d suddenly find that there are being exported and recorded as mixed […]

Increased exports for NZ wood

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:39
Increased export opportunities through the removal of tariffs for 41 wood products included within the ‘Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability’ has been welcomed by New Zealand’s wood processing and manufacturing industry. Source: Timberbiz “Under brand New Zealand we have a leading story to tell as to the value our wood products and timber used in construction play in addressing climate change and sustainability challenges,” says Mark Ross, Chief Executive of the Wood Processing and Manufacturers Association. “Not only will this new trade agreement deliver commercial benefits for New Zealand, but it will send a strong environmental message to our trading partners,” he said. “As new countries join the collective formed by New Zealand, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Iceland, the potential to grow a commercial benefit to our wood products industry over time is significant. “Wood provides multiple benefits to New Zealand, and it is positive to see the government backing our industry in removing unnecessary barriers and implementing new trade Agreements.” Mr Ross said that export growth would help fund the wood processing industry, with value added wood products encouraging greater onshore processing of logs, more employment in regional areas, and increasing global contribution to embodied carbon storage. The Agreement also provided support to the renewable energy sector by establishing rules to prevent harmful fossil fuel subsides and sets guidelines for ecolabelling. Tariffs will be eliminated on over 300 environmental goods on entry into force of the Agreement, including wind and hydraulic turbines, electric vehicles, wool fibre, recycled paper, and wood products offering a more environmental alternative to carbon-intensive construction materials, such as steel and concrete. Tariff elimination will make such products more competitive, thereby incentivising use and investment in related technologies.

Feedback on regulating carbon capture

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:39
New Zealand’s government is seeking feedback on a proposal to regulate carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) in the country. Investigating technologies that can capture carbon from the atmosphere to store it underground or make use of it – such as creating dry ice or making beer – is a key component of the government’s emissions reduction plan. Source: Timberbiz The government has proposed a regulatory regime for CCUS that would allow industries to access this technology “on a level playing field with other emissions reduction and removal mechanisms to better enable a least cost transition towards net zero emissions.” Consultation on the proposal closes 6 August 2024. The Science Media Centre asked experts to comment. Professor Barry Barton, Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, comments: “Carbon capture and storage (CCS) works, it can be done safely, and there may well be niche applications for it in New Zealand. But it is unlikely to make large contributions to meeting our emissions reduction targets; it is not a magic bullet. It will often be expensive, especially relative to low ETS prices. Much more significant on a national scale are policies to decarbonize transport, electricity, and heavy industry; and to improve housing and energy efficiency. “For all that, CCS should be available; we need every reduction we can get. The situation is urgent. “At present we don’t have a legal framework for it CCS, and we should have one; it should not be as difficult (bordering on impossible) as it is under existing laws such as the RMA. We need procedures for flexible long-term permitting and project management. For example, injection must be managed in light of monitoring information as it comes in, and we need clear rules for long-term liability. The legal framework must be designed to be open to a wide range of carbon dioxide removal technologies and practices, not just fossil fuel technologies. Many countries have workable legislation to deal with these matters, and we can draw on their experience. Fortunately, adjusting the Emissions Trading Scheme will not be too difficult.” Dr Rebecca Peer, Senior Lecturer in Civil Systems Engineering, University of Canterbury, comments: “The government’s release of a proposal for a regulatory regime for carbon capture and storage (CCS) is timely. They are right that CCS is present in a lot of international discussions about climate mitigation and meeting our emissions targets. Carbon removals, in the form of capture and storage, are present in every single future scenario from the IPCC that places us near our 1.5-2 ºC targets. And these removals are not small – they are on the gigatonne scale. There’s no doubt that we should be having a discussion about CCS in NZ too. “NZ is ranked as ‘highly insufficient’ in climate action by the Climate Action Tracker. The reality is that we urgently need to decarbonise. CCUS is one option to help reduce national emissions, particularly for hard-to-abate sectors in the near term. It is good to see the proposed monitoring regime and liability management, which tackle some of the risks related to the permanence of storage and responsibility. It is also positive to see the proposed recognition of emissions mitigation via direct air capture or biomass carbon capture and storage. Neither of these activities is currently recognised as beneficial in the ETS, despite their potential to contribute positively to net emissions reductions.” Tim Payn, Principal Scientist, Scion, comments: “There are a couple of opportunities from the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) documents just released for consultation. First is the opportunity presented from the use of sustainably produced biomass for process heat in place of coal or other fossil energy sources. “CO2 is a byproduct of heat production – capture and permanent storage of the CO2 removes this from the atmosphere. Growing a subsequent biomass crop and repeating the process multiple times will continue to accumulate permanently stored CO2. “The document also notes the emerging opportunity for production of synthetic fuels and chemicals from CO2 streams and the potential for NZ to benefit from these technologies. Scion is active in this area, investigating the use of microorganisms to convert CO2 into chemicals and polymers for production of new materials, substituting for fossil carbon; and in production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel from biomass.” Associate Professor David Dempsey, Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, comments: “The Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) policy is partly motivated by short-term natural gas supply issues, which aligns it to other measures like repealing the offshore exploration ban. Timing remains a challenge though – CCS projects can take years to deliver so this may not have a quick impact on gas supplies. “The CCS regulation as proposed generally aligns with international best practices. The government has clearly sought inspiration from regions like Australia, the US, and Europe which have established regulation and operational CCUS. The proposal addresses major issues like ETS incentives, leakage liability, and risk management – there will probably be some arguments around the margins, but this is not bad as a first cut. “Concerns about CCS are mainly related to future leakage. This can be mitigated by storing CO2 in proven traps like depleted gas fields or dissolving it in water (like geothermal fields). Leaky wells are a problem, but these can be found and plugged using standard practices. “Liability for operational risks ought to sit with storage operators, while long-term liability would transfer to government. The proposal discusses options like having operators pay bonds or contribute to government insurance funds and some other options for aligning incentives. “But the big question – why should NZ do CCS at all? The gas supply issue needs addressing, but most folk agree that gas will eventually be eliminated, it’s just a question of when. So, what’s the 50-year proposition for putting in expensive CCUS infrastructure? There are three reasons NZ needs to look at its long-term CCUS capacity. “First, we’ll always need some domestic production of steel, cement, and hydrogen (for ammonia-based fertiliser). Emissions from these are hard-to-abate because they are […]

NZIF encouraged by ETS scheme discussions

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:38
The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) welcomes the Government’s recently released discussion document on the nation’s second emissions reduction plan. The NZIF said it was encouraged by the efforts to bring stability to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and recognise the vital role of afforestation in achieving New Zealand’s climate targets. Source: Timberbiz Afforestation of all types plays a crucial part in the country’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the institute supports initiatives aimed at increasing forest cover. However, there are concerns about the proposed restrictions on afforestation outlined in the discussion document. The details on how these restrictions will be implemented remain unclear, and the NZIF urges the Government to provide more transparency and clarity on this matter to ensure afforestation efforts are not hindered. Furthermore, the institute questions the accuracy of the forecasted planted areas for 2024 and beyond. NZIF data suggests the actual planted areas are likely to be significantly lower than the Government’s projections. Specifically, it estimates the planted areas in 2024 will be approximately half of the forecasted figures, with a greater decline expected in 2025. “The NZIF is committed to supporting New Zealand’s climate goals through sustainable forestry practices,” said James Treadwell, President of the NZIF. “We welcome the Government’s focus on emissions reduction but believe a more realistic approach to afforestation targets and clearer guidelines on proposed restrictions are essential. Accurate forecasting and transparent implementation strategies are imperative to ensure we can contribute effectively to the nation’s climate objectives.” The NZIF calls for a thorough reassessment of these projections to ensure policy decisions are based on realistic and achievable targets. It looks forward to engaging with the Government and other stakeholders in the consultation process to address these concerns and work collaboratively towards a robust and effective emissions reduction plan.

Australian warehousing in a period of flux

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:38
Record-low vacancy, post-pandemic economics, and demand for sustainable technological development have sent Australian warehouse real estate into a period of flux. All these factors have created the perfect environment for manufacturers to optimise their operations and set themselves for long periods of growth. Source: Timberbiz As vacancy levels around the country return from record-lows of around 1% – some of the lowest globally – there is little room for manufacturers to move. This is leading many to consider a complete demolition and rebuild of their facilities, according to JLL Australia head of supply chain, Richard Phillips. “You can’t even put some of the simplest automation into older warehouses because the infrastructure doesn’t enable their deployment,” he says. “So, you’ve got buildings that are 35-plus years coming up for refurbishment anyway, plus the appeal of automation and increased cubic capacity all driving owners and developers to look at the viability of knock down and rebuild.” This is where Combilift comes into play. On top of delivering innovative, multi-directional forklift technology, Combilift has put its decades of experience to good use, offering a free warehouse planning service to maximise floorplan efficiency. Clients of this service have been known to double their storage capacity using Combilift’s warehouse design, coupled with its forklifts for narrow and very narrow aisles. By reducing said aisle widths, warehouse owners can fit more aisles into the same space. “We have a saying we’ve been using for the last number of years – it’s more important that the customers should optimise what they’re doing before they invest in automation,” Combilift CEO, Martin McVicar said. “That’s why we have a team of engineers who offer free warehouse design, and that really has enabled a lot of our customers to maximise their cubic footprint. JLL reported that Sydney’s Outer Central West has 278,000 sqm of warehousing under construction, while Melbourne’s west has 432,000 sqm and Brisbane’s south is expecting 309,000 sqm of industrial warehousing.  

International winner captures beauty of Tas timber

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:37
The Tasmanian Forests Products Association (TFPA) has congratulated the University of Tasmania (UTAS) for receiving international recognition for its timber-centric redesign of the Forestry Tasmania building in Hobart. Source: Timberbiz The building, the centrepiece of the university’s Southern Campus Transformation, has won the Building Technology category in the 2024 WAFX Prizes, awarded by organisers of the World Architecture Festival. TFPA Chief Executive Officer, Nick Steel, said the award was recognition of a truly unique building that captures the beauty and versatility of Tasmanian timber. “The redesign of the Forestry Tasmania building shows just what can be created using our own sustainable and renewable forest products,” Mr Steel said. “Not only is Tasmanian timber a great way of supporting the local community, it’s also aesthetically pleasing… and great for the state’s environment too. “The university knew that by using timber they were creating up to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions than by using other building materials. And the use of steel or concrete would not store any carbon after the buildings’ completion – unlike timber, which locks the carbon it has sequestered away for the life of the building.” Mr Steel said new engineered wood products can be as strong and fire resistant as other building methods and should be embraced for other building projects. “With both the Federal and State governments committing to major housing projects in Tasmania over the next decade, using timber in every home would ensure we continue to lock up carbon, reduce emissions and help the Tasmanian economy thrive,” Mr Steel said. “Timber is the ultimate renewable and should be at the forefront of all new building development in Tasmania – both government and private.” In all, 33 future projects were recognised in the WAFX Prizes. An overall winner will be announced at WAF in Singapore in November. The Forestry Tasmania Building project is slated for completion towards the end of 2025.

NZ goes to the aid of Canada with firefighters

Mo, 22/07/2024 - 02:36
Fire and Emergency New Zealand along with the Department of Conservation and Forest Protection Services will send seven incident management team members to assist Canada with its wildfire response in British Columbia. Source: Timberbiz The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre sent a formal request for assistance to NZ Fire and Emergency late last week. The situation in British Columbia is significant, with 157 wildfires in the province as of Friday morning 19 July. There are 685 active wildfires across Canada. The Alpha deployment will consist of one agency liaison representative, two helicopter coordinators, two division supervisors and two operations branch directors. “We’re happy to provide support to our Canadian colleagues as they experience another difficult wildfire season,” Fire and Emergency National Commander Russell Wood said. The Alpha contingent departed on Sunday 21 July, and will be Fire and Emergency’s 72nd international wildfire deployment since 2000. This number does not include non-wildfire deployments, such as for natural disasters. “In addition to helping the Canadian wildfire teams, deploying overseas is a valuable development opportunity for those involved. It gives them experience in different environments which they can bring back and apply to New Zealand wildfires,” Mr Wood said. Fire and Emergency has deployed 1509 firefighters internationally for wildfires since 2000.

UK Timber Design Conference outcomes

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:37
Leading low-carbon developers called on the next Government to ‘kickstart a timber revolution’ at the UK Timber Design Conference in London held recently. More than 200 developers, local authorities, insurers, engineers, architects, contractors and manufacturers gathered at Timber Development UK’s (TDUK) inaugural UK Timber Design Conference to hear from industry leaders. Source: Timberbiz Opening the event, Richard Walker OBE, executive chairman of Iceland Foods and innovative developer Bywater Properties said timber’s critical role in decarbonizing construction must be recognised and accelerated with the support of the next Government. “The need for us all in property to do more and at pace to tackle the climate emergency is urgent. But we can’t do it without the help of government: the next government must kickstart the timber revolution that’ll be absolutely critical in delivering carbon reductions.” In particular, Mr Walker highlighted the need for a new Government to take bold action to unlock sustainable development with a planning system which supports rather than inhibits those choosing to build the low-carbon, efficient buildings we need today. Mr Walker said businesses have a critical part to play in creating a positive impact on people, places, and the environment. This has been a passion of his across both his roles; in retail and in property development – where embracing sustainable timber is an active choice. “Conviction-led moments of passion, like Bywater moving into timber – or Iceland banning palm oil products – are pivotal moments for an entrepreneurial business. We need to seize those opportunities and nurture them.” Bywater Properties was among a range of developers at the conference discussing their efforts to decarbonise construction along with Related Argent, developer of Brent Cross Town, and Human Nature, developer of Phoenix in Lewes. David Hopkins, chief executive of TDUK, agreed with the sentiment restating the importance of partnership between industry and Government to reshape how we build in the UK, and embrace the many incredible businesses already delivering low-carbon construction. “The speakers we had across the conference, and every individual in the room, demonstrated an ambitious and dynamic industry ready to lead construction to a more sustainable future – using existing solutions to overcome our housing and climate crises. “Embodied carbon, which could account for up to 40% of the carbon emissions of construction between now and 2050, is completely unregulated. The high-carbon, low efficiency methods which dominate England today will cause us to fail to meet our net zero targets. “We need change now. The next Government must signal from day one, they are willing to take on the challenges of building low-carbon today by bringing forward legislation – like Part Z – to begin measuring and reducing these carbon emissions as a top priority.” In a panel session on the future of housing, John Smith of Donaldson Timber Systems said the industry was prepared. They are already manufacturing systems which go beyond the needs of the Future Homes Standard, while James Turner of architects Mikhail Riches said they were regularly designing and delivering low-carbon housing schemes to a Passivhaus standard. The readiness of industry to deliver low-carbon solutions, which can reduce both embodied and operational carbon today, was echoed right across the conference, especially in the final session, which looked at what the next Government could do to unleash a wave of sustainable construction right across the UK. Speakers including Zoe Watson from UK Architects Declare, Will Arnold from iStructe, and Brigitte Clements from ACAN! posed powerful policy recommendations widely agreed by industry which would support construction to decarbonise at scale. Key asks included ‘regulating embodied carbon’, ‘incentivising retrofit’, ‘investment towards biobased materials’, ‘circularity principles reflected in policy’, ‘alignment of net zero with housing’, ‘investment in skills training’, and ‘decarbonisation in government procurement’.

Grand Roof for Japan World Expo

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:36
On June 30, 2023, the assembly of the Grand Roof (Ring) that will be the symbol of the Japan World Expo site began in the PW Northeast construction area on Yumeshima, the site of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan. Source: Timberbiz The Grand Roof is being built for the next World Expo on the man-made island of Yumeshima with about 20,000 cubic metres of wood and constructed using traditional Japanese techniques with no nails. The units, consisting of 420mm square lumbers and 210mm x 420mm beam timbers were pre-assembled on the ground, then lifted and put together by crawler cranes. The wooden Ring was assembled sequentially from the areas where the foundation work was completed. Most of the giant timber roof has been erected, it has a height of 20 metres and contains an eight metre walkway. When completed, the Grand Roof (Ring) will be one of the largest wooden structures in the world, with an inner diameter of approximately 615 meters and a circumference of approximately two kilometres. The next thing to be built is the Forest of Tranquility which is eight signature pavilions and hundreds of country pavilions mostly made of Japanese wood and located inside the wooden ring.

World forests absorbed more than 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:35
The world’s forests have absorbed more than 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over the past three decades, but they need more protection, according to a new study. Source: Timberbiz Professors Oliver Phillips and Simon Lewis from the School of Geography contributed to the tropical component of the global study, which assessed how the most carbon-rich, species-rich forests have responded to climate change and other threats since 1990. The study, entitled “The enduring world forest carbon sink,” is published in Nature. It combined long-term ground measurements with remote sensing data to measure the volume of carbon dioxide absorbed by forests across the world. The results showed that forests have absorbed more than 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over the past 30 years, nearly half of the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels over the same period. Forests remain an essential part of climate change mitigation. However, they are facing threats from deforestation and wildfires. This study makes recommendations for their protection and restoration. Keep forests standing and healthy and they provide huge climate benefits. Professor Oliver Phillips leads RAINFOR: The Amazon Forest Inventory Network, an international collaboration to understand Amazon ecosystems, and the global ForestPlots.net alliance which monitors forests in over 50 countries. “The extraordinary persistence of the carbon sink shows the great resili-ence of nature to climate change so far,” he said. “Right now, deforestation, fire and logging are damaging forests everywhere, but drought less so. Helping Earth’s forests resist climate change means keeping them as intact, healthy and vibrant ecosystems.” Professor Simon Lewis, who leads the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network, said that undisturbed African tropical forests, including the vast forests of the Congo Basin, are making a remarkable contribution to slowing climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. “The message from the tropics is clear: keep forests standing and healthy and they provide huge climate benefits,” he said. “What is needed are formal collective land rights for local people who have a long-term stake in the survival of their forests, and financial mechanisms to make forests worth more alive than dead.” Professor Phillips added that we know what has happened thanks to partners measur-ng inside forests for decades. It bears reflection that careful, on-the-ground work by dedicated tropical scientists is absolutely essential. Without them we wouldn’t understand how forests are faring. The research was co-led by USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Senior Research Scientist Yude Pan and Senior Scientist Richard Birdsey from Woodwell Climate Research Center, alongside 15 co-authors from 11 countries. “Our research team analysed data from millions of forest plots around the globe. What sets this study apart is its foundation in extensive ground measurements – essentially, a tree-by-tree assessment of size, species, and bio-mass,” Dr Pan explained. “While the study also incorporates remote sensing data, a common tool in national forest inventories and land surveys, our unique strength lies in the detailed on-the-ground data collection.” The research investigated forests across the world including boreal forests in Northern Hemisphere areas across Alaska, Canada and Russia, tropical forests such as the Amazon Rainforest and the Congo Basin Forest, and temperate forests in between. They found that the carbon sink capacity of boreal and tropical forests has significantly decreased. Boreal forests have experienced a 36% drop in capacity due to disturbances like wildfires, insect outbreaks and soil warming. Deforestation has caused a 31% decline in tropical forests’ ability to absorb carbon. However, regrowth in agricultural and logged areas has partially offset these losses. In contrast, the carbon sink capacity of temperate forests has increased by 30%. This is largely due to extensive reforestation efforts, particularly in China. Their recovery shows how land management policies and practices can help to preserve this global carbon sink. Calls for research and protection of forests The study makes recommendations to support forests across the world. It calls for an end to deforestation and for more restoration. It suggests improvements to timber harvesting practices to minimise emissions and disruptions to forests. The study acknowledges the need for increased research in the tropical regions where there are fewer ground sampling plots.

New home sales increase

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:35
Sales of new homes nationally increased by 15.7% in the June quarter 2024 compared with the March quarter indicating that the number of homes commencing construction is set to increase later this year. Source: Timberbiz The HIA New Home Sales report is a monthly survey of the largest volume home builders in the five largest states and is a leading indicator of future detached home construction. HIA Economist Maurice Tapang said that this increase in sales was first observed in Western Australia in the second half of 2023 when sales in that market started to increase. “This year, sales in Queensland and South Australia have also observed a sustained increase in recent months,” Mr Tapang said. “Driven by this increase in sales in these three states, new home sales in the June quarter 2024 were 20.4% higher compared to the same period in the previous year. “With the sales recovery in these markets now sustained, an increase in the number of new detached houses commencing construction will be observed in the second half of this year, albeit from a low base,” he said. Market confidence was returning as the impact of rate increases dissipated and the shortage of housing stock made new home building increasingly attractive. “These three markets have seen demand for new homes increase due to strong employment opportunities and relatively affordable land, driving local population growth,” Mr Tapang said. “At the same time, new home sales in New South Wales and Victoria remain weak despite simi-lar growth in demand. The adverse impact of rate rises is more significant here due to the higher cost of residential land in Sydney and Melbourne.” Sales in New South Wales and Victoria had also been constrained by the introduction of addi-tional regulatory costs, through the National Construction Code which had distorted sales data. “As a result, there is not the significant or sustained increase in sales required to expect an in-crease in home building in either of these markets,” Mr Tapang said. “The higher cost of delivering a new house and land package, due to higher taxes, fees and charges in these markets, is impairing the recovery of detached home building.” The ABS also released its Building Activity data today for the March quarter 2024. This data pro-vides estimates of the value of building work and number of dwellings commenced, completed and under construction across Australia and its states and territories. “There were 39,720 dwellings that commenced construction in the March quarter 2024. This is 0.5% higher compared to the previous quarter, but 13.5% below compared to the same quarter in the previous year,” Mr Tapang said. “Australia completed 41,330 dwellings in the March quarter 2024, which is 9.5% lower than the previous quarter and 8.1% lower compared to the previous year. “There were 25,600 detached homes that were completed in the March quarter 2024, down by 16.8% compared to the previous quarter and down by 8.9% compared to the previous year,” he said. “The volume of residential dwellings under construction rose marginally in the quarter but remained lower than at the same time in the previous year. This suggest that home building will not continue to drag on GDP growth.” New home sales saw the largest increase in the June quarter 2024 in New South Wales, up by 32.8% compared to the March quarter, followed by South Australia (+29.3%), Queensland (+19.5%), Victoria (+10.3%), and Western Australia (+7.8%). New home sales in the financial year 2023/24 increased by 25.4% in Western Australia, followed by Queensland (+10.6%) and South Australia (+2.3%). The two other states recorded a decline in 2023/24, with Victoria down by 7.6% and New South Wales down by 7.5%. Dwelling commencements in the March quarter 2024 increased by 24.9% in Western Australia compared to the same quarter in the previous year, followed by the Australian Capital Territory (+24.7%). The other jurisdictions recorded a decline in commencements, led by the Northern Territory (-41.2%) followed by Tasmania (-37.0%), New South Wales (-29.7%), Victoria (-13.8%), Queensland (-9.5%), and South Australia (-4.8%).

BRANZ survey shows heightened awareness of engineered wood

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:34
A significant upsurge in mass timber awareness and application has been highlighted by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) in its survey of building and construction experts. Source: Timberbiz Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association Chief Executive, Mark Ross, says the finding is encouraging and signals an increased adoption of engineered timber products in New Zealand by builders, designers and architects. “The timber that we are talking about is not only renewable but has environmental advantages over steel and concrete when it comes to carbon storage and durability,” Mr Ross says. “With New Zealand’s sustainable forestry model, using locally grown timber supports our circular bioeconomy, climate change targets, and domestic processing of logs. “Forecasting by Deloitte’s indicates that changing our market share to timber by 25% would result in the removal of an additional 920,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment each year.” Greater use of timber was critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting GDP, and providing regional jobs in a highly productive sector. The BRANZ survey is carried out biennially. Data compared over a period of five years highlights noticeable growth in the role of mass timber use in New Zealand construction. This mirrors global trends, with the engineered wood products market projected to grow by 77% to NZ$268 billion by 2031. Changes in engineered timber use can be attributed to a heightened focus on carbon-neutral construction practices, the increasing demand for energy-efficient buildings, and consumer preference for natural materials. The BRANZ survey is supported by Mid-Rise Construction https://midrisewood.co.nz/ a co-investment program between MPI and Red Stag, which is stimulating the use of mass timber engineered wood products in construction. You can download the report here.  

SA sending firefighters to Canada

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:33
The SA Country Fire Service (CFS) will send nine firefighters to Canada on Saturday morning to deal with their escalating wildfire situation. CFS answered the call to send volunteers and staff to assist Canada’s incident management and fireground leadership teams in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Source: Timberbiz “The CFS embraces opportunities to support overseas agencies, and this is the second consecutive year our firefighters have been deployed to Canada,” State Duty Commander, Matt Davis said. “CFS firefighters are highly trained and highly respected, and we will not only support Canadian firefighters but also refine and gain additional skills to better protect our communities ahead of the Fire Danger Season.” The South Australian contingent will join approximately 90 other personnel from our interstate partner agencies for a deployment which could last up to 40 days. The CFS crew, which includes two firefighters from the Department for Environment and Water, will be: Libby Mapletoft, Fire Behaviour Analyst, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Phil Tapscott, Divisional Commander, Region 4 Operations – Port Augusta Keagan Porter (Minlaton), Hayden Linggood (Cherry Gardens) and Steven Douglas (McLaren Flat), Sector Commanders Nat Tanti, Resources Officer, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Matthew Allan (Region 1 Ops – Mt Barker) and Shaun Irrgang (Jamestown), Strike Team Leaders Bruce Hull (Region 1 Operations – Mt Barker), Supply Officer There are currently hundreds of active fires in the Canadian provinces and local firefighters have been battling the fires on foot and using heavy machinery to create containment lines. The SA crews will operate in control centres and those trained in arduous firefighting will be in frontline positions. “The skills and capabilities of our emergency services members are highly regarded around the world and South Australia stands ready to assist,” Acting Minister for Emergency Services, Susan Close said. “Undertaking deployments like these demonstrates how personnel are ready to put their own lives on hold to help communities in need, regardless of where they live.”

Future of Heyfield grant for the next phase

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:33
The transition of the Future of Heyfield project from Wellington Shire Council to the Heyfield Community Resource Centre has received a $486,940 grant for the project’s next phase. Source: Timberbiz The grant has been made available through the State Government’s Forestry Transition Program to continue the project for the next two years. “HCRC is proud to lead the next steps of the Future of Heyfield project. The funding will ensure that the ideas sparked within the working groups will be supported and implemented for the benefit of the local community and economy,” Resource Centre Coordinator Caroline Trevorrow said. The Community Development Fund grant will enable the Heyfield Community Resource Centre to take the lead on the important work started by the Wellington Shire Council as part of the Local Development Strategy program The funding will support the Heyfield Community Resource Centre to become the centre of several innovation working groups, providing a range of services from meeting and event facilitation, grant writing assistance, project management through to community engagement activities. This also includes the implementation of plans developed through the Local Development Strategy for health and active ageing initiatives, the visitor economy and agriculture. The Heyfield Community Resource Centre has been an integral part of the Heyfield community since 1988, providing a diverse range of activities and services. It is part of the statewide Neighbourhood House network and is home to programs such as Kids House childcare, the Men’s Shed and Learn Local adult education. Wellington Shire Council partnered with the State Government to deliver the first phase of the Local Development Strategy and received a further $90,000 grant for the Heyfield Manufacturing Cluster masterplan from the Community Development Fund.

Heyfield MASSLAM facility open day

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:32
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, Australia’s largest hardwood manufacturer, is inviting architects, engineers, specifiers, and building developers to visit its MASSLAM facility at Heyfield in Victoria as part of a free open day. Source: Timberbiz This unique opportunity allows guests to witness the intricate process of MASSLAM production and receive first-hand lessons in cost efficiency, quality and build-ability. Attendees will be taken on a comprehensive tour of ASH’s production, machining and finishing sheds, providing a detailed understanding of how raw materials are transformed into sustainable, high-performance, building solutions. During the tour, there will be a chance to engage with the team of MASSLAM designers and engineers’ team who are at the forefront of mass timber technology. They will share their insights into the design, engineering, and application of MASSLAM in various construction applications. This interactive experience offers a rare glimpse into the technical and creative aspects of mass timber production, providing valuable knowledge to industry professionals not just looking to specify mass timber in their next project, but embed cost efficiency into design and installation. The MASSLAM Open Day will also provide an opportunity to network with other leading experts in the field. As Australia’s leading mass timber innovator and manufacturer, don’t miss this exclusive opportunity for unprecedented backstage access of mass timber production at ASH. Registrations are limited and close August 7, 2024. Wednesday August 14, 2024 ASH Manufacturing Facility Weir Road, Heyfield Register here.

Opinion: Timothy Seachinger – What economics does or doesn’t tell us about the climate consequences of using wood

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:31
To reduce global carbon emissions, should people harvest and use more wood or less? This question underlies the merits of policies that encourage power plants and heating facilities to burn more wood pellets and builders to construct more tall wood buildings. As one illustration of the question’s importance, the US government has recently requested input on whether a lucrative tax credit for carbon-neutral electricity should apply to burning wood. In the Carbon Costs of Global Wood Harvests, published in Nature in 2023, WRI researchers using a biophysical model estimated that annual wood harvests over the next few decades will emit 3.5-4.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. That is more than 3 times the world’s current annual average aviation emissions. These wood-harvest emissions occur because the great majority of carbon stored in trees is released to the atmosphere after harvest when roots and slash decompose; as most wood is burned directly for heat or electricity or for energy at sawmills or paper mills; and when discarded paper products, furniture and other wood products decompose or burn. Another recent paper in Nature found that the word’s remaining forests have lost even more carbon, primarily due to harvesting wood, than was lost historically by converting forests to agriculture (other studies have found similar results1). Based on these analyses, a natural climate solution would involve harvesting less wood and letting more forests regrow. This would store more carbon as well as enhance forest biodiversity. Carbon Costs focused on the pure physical emissions from wood harvest and timber management relative to leaving forests alone. This is consistent with the approach used for decades by the IPCC and numerous other papers to estimate the emissions from new wood harvests.2 However, it differs from some papers that claim the carbon emitted to the atmosphere by harvesting and using wood should generally be ignored. These papers assume that wood is carbon neutral, just like solar or wind energy, so long as other forest tracts in a large area (often a whole country) are growing enough to keep the total amount of carbon stored in forests stable — which is true of forests in most countries. By itself, this argument makes little sense: If some parts of a country’s forests are not harvested, forests in that country overall will grow more and absorb more carbon, which reduces global warming. This rationale for carbon neutrality is roughly equivalent to claiming that a money-losing company does not lose money if a country’s companies are profitable overall. Yet, some researchers, such as the developers of the Global Timber Model (GTM), also have a more refined argument for why harvesting wood causes low, no, or even negative emissions. In a blog and a critique submitted to Nature, their core claim is that the effect of forestry on carbon is an economic question that requires analysis using an economic model rather than a biophysical one. According to the GTM, increased wood demand for any one product leads to a range of results that can lower carbon costs; these include causing people to plant more forests, to reduce their consumption of other wood products, and to intensify forest management. The first idea, that increased wood demand leads to more forests, is related to a broader idea: that forests exist because of the demand for wood. This underlies the views of many others who see wood as carbon neutral. The GTM is by far the most cited economic model for analysing the carbon consequences of global wood use, so its findings could have serious policy implications. Importantly, the model has been used to claim the climate advantages of harvesting more wood for bioenergy, particularly to burn in power plants. One GTM paper estimates that substantially increasing demand for wood for bioenergy could lead to roughly 1.1 billion hectares of agricultural land being converted to forests around the world. That is an area almost four times the size of India and equal to more than 70% of current global croplands — which raises the question of where the world’s food would come from. This dialogue, to which WRI has responded in an exchange under review at Nature, provides a useful basis for exploring the effects of wood consumption on climate change and what they mean for policy. The U.S. government has specifically asked for comments about the role of economic models in treating wood as carbon neutral or negative. Here, we take a closer look at both economic and biophysical models and what each does or doesn’t tell us about the climate consequences of using wood. Does Increased Wood Demand Lead to More Forests? Although economic models rely on a different logic, the GTM creators and others sometimes argue that the carbon released by harvesting trees is inherently carbon neutral because it is cancelled out by the carbon that was absorbed when the trees grew.3 This theory could be valid only if all harvested forests existed solely because of the economic incentives created by wood use. If that were true, wood use would be not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative, because the very existence of these forests and the carbon they store could be attributed to the demand created by using wood. Yet, no one seriously suggests that all or even most harvested forests exist only because of wood demand. That would include the rainforests of the Congo Basin, the Amazon Basin, South-East Asia and Alaska, each of which continues to be subject to significant harvests. It would also include the vast, heavily harvested forests of Siberia and Canada where it is too cold for agriculture. In fact, 75% of the world’s forests are owned by governments, which respond to multiple incentives. Even in the United States, a commercially oriented country, only 30% of non-corporate forest owners, who own most private forests, report timber revenue as one of the many reasons they own forests. No one seriously argues that all forests came into being because of wood demand or would disappear without it. […]

Green Triangle pellet mill gets the green light

Fr, 19/07/2024 - 02:28
The Green Triangle pellet mill will go ahead with Grant District Council approving the request to sell Hutchinson Road. Elected members opted to approve Mount Gambier Biomass – formerly Altus Renewables – request to acquire Hutchinson Road for $28,183. Source: Timberbiz, The Border Watch The $120m renewable energy plant will produce upwards of 300,000 tonnes of industrial specification pellets each year and generate an estimated $64.1m for the local economy. The mill will use FSC/PEFC certified logs and sawmill residues from nearby plantations and sawmills. The plant is proposed for land along Hutchinson Road, adjacent to Mount Gambier Regional Airport with the plant to attract a number of B-double trucks during  day-time and night time. As part of the development, it was identified the intersection between the Riddoch Highway, Airport Road and Hutchinson Road would require realignment to minimise traffic impact. Council previously entered agreements with Altus Renewables to approve the development however, in 2023, the company was placed into administration. Earlier this year, Altus Renewables was purchased by Albioma and council was informed the project would proceed. Mayor Kylie Boston said although the initial project received public backlash, it had since eased off. “I guess there are a few phone calls when we have something in the agenda, but those decisions have to come through council,” Ms Boston said. “Those approvals are done with the state government, and we then see it once it comes through and then it has to be administered.”

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by Dr. Radut