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Western U.S. sawmills produced 7.1% more lumber in H1/2018

International Forest Industries - 9 hours 46 min ago

Western U.S. sawmills produced 7.406 billion board ft. (bbf) of softwood lumber in the first half of 2018, a 7.1% increase from 6.915 bbf in the first six months of 2017, the Western Wood Products Assn. (WWPA) of Portland, Oregon, reported.

Of the six-month total, Coastal mills accounted for 4.678 bbf, up 8.1% from 4.326 bbf last year, while inland mills produced 2.517 bbf, up 6.8% from 2.356 bbf in the first half of 2017. California redwood production dropped to 212 million board ft. (mmbf), down 9.4% from 234 mmbf in the previous year.

In June alone, Western U.S. sawmills produced 1.226 bbf, a decline of 1.0% from 1.239 bbf in the year before, and down 4.3% from 1.281 bbf in May 2018.

Coastal mills contributed 766 mmbf to June’s output, a year-over-year gain of 0.7% from 770 mmbf, but down 3.6% from 805 mmbf in May 2018. Inland mills accounted for 408 mmbf – down 3.3% from 422 mmbf a year earlier, and down 5.8% from 433 mmbf in the previous month.

California redwood production in June was 43 mmbf, an 8.9% year-over-year drop from 47 mmbf, and 1.1% lower that output in May 2018 of 43 mmbf.

Western softwood lumber inventories in June grew 5.4% to 1.231 bbf from last year’s 1.167 bbf.

Production as a percent of practical capacity was 83% in June, level with 83% in May 2018 and up from 80% in June last year. Average production as a percent of practical capacity for the six months to June was 83%, up from 77% in the first half of 2017.

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Finland: logging volume 29% up in June 2018

International Forest Industries - 10 hours 39 min ago

In June 2018, an all-time high volume of 5.1 million m3 of roundwood was harvested for use by the forest industries in Finland. This logging volume was 29% up over the previous year and 52% up over the ten-year June average, reports Natural Resource Institute Finland (Luke).

Sawlogs accounted for 2.1 million m3 and pulpwood for 3.0 million m3 out of the total roundwood harvested for the industrial purposes.

Industrial roundwood logging volumes from forests in non-industrial private ownership were 3.9 million m3. The Finnish forest industry companies and the state harvested 1.1 million m3 of roundwood from their forests.

Besides, in June 2018, 333,000 m3 of wood was harvested in Finland for energy production.

The post Finland: logging volume 29% up in June 2018 appeared first on International Forest Industries.

Sweden: continued increase in notified area of final felling during June and July

International Forest Industries - 11 hours 43 min ago

In Sweden, notified area of final felling increased by 14% in June and by 4% in July, compared to corresponding months of last year, reports the Swedish Forest Agency.

Quarterly statistics during the year shows an increase of 34% in the second quarter of 2018 compared with the first quarter 2018. The second quarter of 2018, compared to the corresponding quarter of 2017, notified area of final felling increased by 7%.

The 14% increase in June corresponds to a total notified area of final felling to 30,136 hectares. This is the largest increase in June since 2012.

On the county level, notified area of final felling increased in 16 of 21 counties. The largest increase in notified area of final felling was reported in Västmanland by 50%, Stockholm by 44% and Västernorrland by 39%. The largest decrease was reported in Södermanland by -34%, Skåne by -27% och Örebro by -14%. On the regional level, notified area of final felling increased in all four regions.

In July 2018, the increase was lower in total notified area of final felling. The increase of 4% amounted to a total of 20,541 hectares. This is the largest increase in July since 2011.

On the county level, notified area of final felling increased in 11 of 21 counties. The largest increase in notified area of final felling was reported in Uppsala by 86% and in Östergötaland by 52%. The largest decrease was reported in in Västmanland by 48% and in Skåne by 44%. On the regional level, there was increase in Northern Sweden (Norra Norrland) by 8% and Central Sweden (Svealand) by 22% respective 22%. There was a decline in South of Northern Sweden (Södra Norrland) by two% and South Sweden (Götaland) by 8%.

During the first seven months of 2018, compared with 2017, there is an increase of 5% of notified area of final felling.

The post Sweden: continued increase in notified area of final felling during June and July appeared first on International Forest Industries.

UK and Ireland’s photo contest winners reveal the versatility of our forests

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 19:20
A journey through the mist takes first prize in PEFC UK and PEFC Ireland’s ‘Forests, our home, workplace and playground’ photo contest! Chosen by a jury of timber, forestry and photography experts, the top three images reveal the versatility of forests, which can be places to...

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Brazil: Bolsonaro threatens to quit Paris climate deal

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 19:09

De facto presidential frontrunner says he would follow Donald Trump out of the international pact, drawing criticism from the UN's environment chief

The post Brazil: Bolsonaro threatens to quit Paris climate deal appeared first on Climate Home News.

IUCN Report Guides Practitioners in Selecting Tools for Ecosystem Services Assessment

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 18:13
IUCN-WCPA has produced a report that reviews and compares nine tools for conducting ecosystem services assessments in protected areas, Key Biodiversity Areas and natural World Heritage sites. The report aims to help users select the most appropriate ES tool based on the purpose of their assessment.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) best practices to promote legal trade of forest products in Asia Pacific

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 12:03
The APEC region is experiencing greater connectivity with increased business interactions between buyers and suppliers in production and trade of timber and non-timber commodities (e.g. palm oil and rubber). Combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable forest management requires changes in policies and practices across the international forest products supply chain. Although corporations have crucial effects […]

“We need more attention to root rot in pine”

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 11:54
SNS secretary, Jonas Rönnberg, is interviewed about his research in root rot in pine. In both Poland, UK and other big European forest nations, treatment of the pine stubs is very common. Why the Swedish forestry doesn’t pay attention to the root rot in pine, is a hard question to…

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Use your phone to assess damages on trees

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 11:30
With an app in your phone, you can assess damages on tree stems. The app is developed by researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in cooperation with the Swedish Forest Agency. The user add some basic facts: the age of the tree, average diameter, site, share of trees…

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Our work in Ethiopia: mid-year review

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 08:48

An update on the work of the Sustainable Land Management Programme in Ethiopia. 14 August 2018 – Since 2016, INBAR has been providing technical support to a World Bank-funded programme to use bamboo for sustainable land management and livelihoods improvement. The initiative, part of the Sustainable Land Management Programme, aims to mitigate watershed degradation and […]

The post Our work in Ethiopia: mid-year review appeared first on INBAR.

Biocomposite kitchen utensils from Stora Enso

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:19
Stora Enso and Orthex are bringing to the market a new range of kitchen utensils made from a new biocomposite which combines the best qualities of wood and plastic. Source: Timberbiz The bio-based material used to replace fossil-based plastic is made from spruce and sugarcane, which reduces the carbon footprint of the products by up to 80%. The innovative products contain 98% bio-based material. In recent years, the Finnish plastics industry has actively sought innovative bio and recycling materials. At the same time, the forest industry has developed wood-based materials to replace fossil raw materials. Both Stora Enso and Orthex believe in the global growth of the market for bio-based products. It creates opportunities for both raw material suppliers and consumer product manufacturers. The biocomposite used in the new products comes from Stora Enso’s Hylte Mill in Sweden. The DuraSense™ by Stora Enso biocomposites are produced from spruce and pine from sustainably managed and certified Swedish forests. “The Stora Enso biocomposite is a new innovative raw material which helps create the desired properties in the products. The wood used in the biocomposite is obtained from side streams of wood products and pulp production, which means that the wood material is utilised optimally,” Patricia Oddshammar, Head of Biocomposites at Stora Enso said. “The properties of the new products made from wood-based materials correspond to those of similar plastic utensils: the products are hard, durable, hygienic and dishwasher-safe. “The wood contained in the biocomposite makes the material stronger and harder. We are now launching nine GastroMax BIO products made of bio-based materials for the home kitchens. In their product group, products that contain 98% bio materials are uniquely innovative,” Orthex CEO Alexander Rosenlew said. “With the help of biocomposites, Stora Enso can expand to new markets and industries traditionally dominated by plastics. The DuraSense™ biocomposite is the perfect material for furniture, pallets, tools and car furnishing as well as for various consumer products from toys, tooth brushes, beauty and lifestyle products to kitchen utensils, garden furniture and disposable cutlery,” Ms Oddshammar said. The DuraSense™ biocomposite combines wood fibres with recycled or bio-based polymers. In Orthex’s new GastroMax BIO products, wood fibre is blended with sugarcane. Depending on the product, the biocomposite combined with bioplastics used as a raw material may reduce the carbon footprint of the product by up to 80% in comparison with virgin plastics.

China hits back with tariffs on US timber

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:17
China is fighting back after the US recently proposed tariffs saying it would impose tariffs on US products including timber. The Chinese government said it would add duties to a number of timber products varying from 5% to 25%. Sources: Timberbiz, TTF UK China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a new list of US goods subject for tariff. The list includes a wide range of timber and timber products including logs, lumber,OSB, sheet materials, veneers etc. with tariff increase between 5 – 25%. The list affects US$60 billion worth of US goods and tariff. However, the implementation date is still to be determined. SUBJECT TO 25% TARIFF INCREASE: Softwood logs treated with paints, stains, preservatives, etc Pinus koraiensis and Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica with a cross section of 15 cm or more Larch logs with a cross-section of 15 cm or more Other fir and spruce logs, section sizes below 15 cm Other at least one surface layer is the following non-coniferous wood: eucalyptus, ash, and Cyclobalanopsis (mountain) Oak, birch, cherry chestnut, elm, elm, pecan, horse chestnut, elm, Maple, eucalyptus (oak), sycamore, poplar, locust, gooseberry or walnut veneer Plywood Beech logs Birch logs with a cross-section of 15 cm or more Poplar logs Beech logs Other unlisted temperate non-coniferous logs Other unnamed non-coniferous logs   SUBJECT TO 20% TARIFF INCREASE Non-coniferous logs processed with paints, stains, preservatives, etc. Douglas fir logs with a cross-section of 15 cm or less Other pine logs, with a cross-section of 15 cm or less Fir and spruce logs, with a cross-section of 15 cm or more Other softwood logs, with a cross-section of 15 cm or less North American hardwood hardwood logs Douglas fir thick sheet, longitudinal sawing, slitting, cutting, whether flattened, sanded or finger knot Combined, thickness exceeds 6mm Other thick planks of pine wood, longitudinally sawing, slitting, cutting, whether or not planing, sanding or fingering Combined, thickness exceeds 6mm Other coniferous wood thick plates, longitudinal sawing, slitting, cutting, whether or not planed, sanded or combined, thickness over 6mm Cherry wood board, longitudinal sawing, slitting, planing, whether flattened, sanded or smashed, Thickness over 6mm Ash wood board, longitudinal sawing, slitting, cutting, whether flattened, sanded or smashed, Thickness over 6mm   SUBJECT TO 10% TARIFF INCREASE: No timber products.   SUBJECT TO 5% TARIFF INCREASE: Douglas fir logs with a cross-section of 15 cm or more Other coniferous logs, with a cross-section of 15 cm or more North American hardwood wood board, longitudinal sawing, slitting, planing, whether flattened, sanded or combined, thickness over 6mm Other sheets for wooden veneers, no matter whether planed, sanded or finger jointed, not exceeding the thickness 6mm, except for multi-layer boards such as plywood

Biochar cements its relationship in Singapore

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:16
Wood waste from furniture factories makes up a huge portion of waste generated in Singapore. In 2016 alone, more than 530,000 tonnes of wood waste were produced, of which, a significant amount is in the form of saw dust. Source: Timberbiz Instead of incinerating or disposing them in landfills, wood waste can be recycled to make biochar, a porous, carbon-rich material that absorbs and retains water well. Due to its good water absorption and retention properties, biochar is largely employed in the agricultural industry as soil amendment to improve crop yield. Associate Professor Kua Harn Wei, his PhD student, Mr Souradeep Gupta, and their team from the Department of Building at the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment further expanded the application of biochar by successfully using biochar recycled from saw dust to significantly improve the mechanical and permeability properties of concrete and mortar. The improvement in the performance of concrete and mortar is achieved by adding a small amount of dry biochar powder into the concrete or mortar mixture. The added biochar alters the conditions in the mixture and enhances the curing and hardening of the mixture. In the experiments, the researchers found that improvement in early strength and impermeability of the concrete and mortar mixture can reach up to 20% and 50% respectively. This can facilitate early removal of formwork, which substantially saves construction time and cost. Furthermore, biochar itself ‘locks in’ carbon in its structure, which would otherwise be released to the atmosphere by decay or by incineration of biomass. The use of the biochar technology in concrete construction is therefore a novel and innovative way to store carbon in buildings while promoting recycling of wood waste and strengthening building structures. “This is a simple and affordable strategy to enhance our building structures, particularly in Singapore, where water leakage from rain and water pipes are common problems,” Assoc Prof Kua, said. “At the same time, we are putting the large amount of wood waste generated in Singapore into good use. Close to 50 kilograms of wood waste can be utilised for every tonne of concrete fabricated. We typically require 0.5 cubic metre of concrete for every square metre of floor area built in Singapore. This translates to around six tonnes of wood waste being recycled to build a typical 4-room HDB unit with a floor area of 100 square metres.” The NUS team is currently in discussion with a local firm to explore the commercialisation of this technology, and is also leveraging this technology to develop other high performance cement composites with a wide range of applications.

Unprecedented partnership to produce 125,000 tonnes of timber

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:14
Aboriginal people on Cape York are branching out into the timber business as Rio Tinto expands its bauxite operations in far north Queensland. Source: The Australian In an unprecedented partnership with the international miner, the traditional Wik and Wik Way people have set up a company with federal assistance that will produce up to 125,000 tonnes of timber for export and the domestic markets every year. The timber will be collected as land is cleared as part of Rio Tinto’s expansion of its existing bauxite operations on the northwest part of Cape York. Wik Timber, which is run by traditional owners, will harvest the timber that would otherwise be discarded as the miner clears about 1500ha a year as part of its “south of Weipa’’ expansion of its 50-year-old bauxite operation. The enterprise is a breakthrough for the Wik people, who had previously advocated for ownership of a nearby bauxite reserve, under state control, to help ensure economic autonomy for local Aboriginal communities. Wik Timber spokeswoman Gina Castelain said the company — set up with the help of a $2.7 million from the Turnbull government’s Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund — would provide Aboriginal employment for years. The company has begun harvesting, and a commercial log shipment is scheduled for next month. As exports ramp-up, the company plans to hire 70 local people. “Our people have been training in preparation and now we can move forward and get real jobs,” Ms Castelain said. “Traditional owners have made it clear they do not want these forests burnt to waste and want to make good use of them.’’ Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said the government had stepped in with financial assistance because of a reluctance of the banks to back enterprise in remote Australia.

Xlam joins NZ government to provide employment

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:14
New Zealand Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni has announced a partnership between XLam NZ Ltd and the Ministry of Social Development. Source: Timberbiz “The Ministry of Social Development and Xlam will work together to create entry-level manufacturing and construction opportunities for unemployed clients, especially in the Pre-fabrication sector,” Minister Sepuloni said. As a prefabricated building manufacturing and construction company XLam now employs approximately 100 staff across Australasia at the Nelson manufacturing plant, the Auckland off-site solutions facility, and the Albury, Australia manufacturing plant. “Xlam NZ will provide training and support to our clients in the manufacture of pre-fabricated buildings with opportunities for on-site assembler roles,” Minister Sepuloni said. “This agreement is just one of the ways the Government is showing its commitment to getting people into meaningful and sustainable employment. This is particularly important in high demand areas like building and construction”.

End of an era for sandalwood

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:13
Senior timber assessor Steve Davis and technical officer Mike Cully have been working hard in Kununurra to harvest Indian sandalwood from old Forest Products Commission (FPC) research plots. Source: Timberbiz Senior forester (Ecology) Jon Brand said that the agreement between the FPC and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to grow sandalwood plantations in the area finishes in 2021. “We used to have around 50 hectares of Indian sandalwood, planted between 1990 and 2005, but these plantations have gradually been sold and harvested over the past five years,” Mr Brand said. The remaining half a hectare of sandalwood in Kununurra will be harvested in 2019. “Approximately three tonnes of Indian sandalwood was harvested in Kununurra during this recent expedition, which will be sent to Wescorp in Perth and sold. Valuable aromatic oils will most likely be extracted from the wood and used in products such as perfumes and cosmetics,” Mr Brand said. “The research plots were very useful during their time and helped develop Indian sandalwood growth, heartwood and oil yield models.”

TAC members sought for new training package projects 

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:11
The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) has approved two new projects for the Timber and Wood Processing Industry Reference Committee (IRC) to review and update units of competency and qualifications. Source: Timberbiz These are: Advances in Wood machining and Sawdoctoring. Sawmill Timber and Process Optimisation Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) are currently being established for each project. If you are interested in applying to be a technical expert for these projects and are able to volunteer your time or would like further information regarding these projects, email gdaian@forestworks.com.au. “TAC nominations are sought until the end of August, with the first TAC meeting being proposed for 27 August. However, we welcome stakeholders and encourage them to join the project at any time during the development work,” said Dr Georgiana Daian, ForestWorks research manager. “It is expected that development work will be completed before January 2019. This stage is followed by a period of broad industry feedback and a training package quality assurance process. The project will conclude in June 2019.” The role of the Technical Advisory Committee and its members is to assist the project through a range of activities, which include: Providing input on relevant job activities and knowledge required from people working in this area; Identifying relevant qualitative and quantitative data sources to inform the development of draft materials; Reviewing and providing feedback on draft materials; Promoting draft materials to and requesting input from relevant stakeholders. The Advances in Wood machining and Sawdoctoring Project will assess the current skills requirements for wood machinists and sawdoctors as a result of technology developments and a business imperative to operate in the competitive manufacturing environment. This project will result in streamlining and consolidating the national wood machining and sawdoctoring qualifications, which underpin industry’s apprenticeships and traineeships programs for these trades. The Sawmill Timber and Process Optimisation Project will improve and develop new units of competency to address skills requirements for timber and process optimisation within sawmills as follows: Log sorting – specific skills are required to operate 3D, X-Ray and acoustic scanning technologies and software and conduct correct calibrations. Sawing in the ‘green mill’ – specific skills are required to set-up and operate scanning and optimising system for log alignment and positioning before sawing and for trimming and sorting operations. Dry mill processing and grading – specific skills are required to understand the cutting plan and product output mix, select the cutting programme and develop a cutting schedule to meet value recovery requirements. Specific skills are also required for using stress grade technology, which uses acoustic, visual, X-Ray and bending methods, to determine the structural characteristics of the full length of every single piece of timber. Timber treatment – specific skills are required in the current timber treatment processes and correct testing of treated timber due to the major improvements in techniques over the recent years to ensure the durability, protection and performance of timber products.

Drone ensures koala safety

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:07
The koala in Victoria’s Strzelecki Ranges has a new ally to guard its safety – the all-seeing drone that detects any animal in its sights.  It’s the preferred technology that family company Hazelwood Forestry, based in the Latrobe Valley, is now using for its business of wild life management. By Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz “Most of our work is koala management with Hancocks who have been on the front foot in managing koalas. We are really ramping up how to manage and protect them in forestry operations,” said Eloise Cluning, who operates the Hazelwood North company with husband Russell, an experienced local forester. Hancock Victoria Plantations has blue gum and pine plantations throughout the Strzeleckis. “Koala spotting – we do it every day before that day’s harvest. We actually capture and translocate koalas under a permit from DELWP,” said Louise, who gave a talk on the role of drones in forestry to a recent seminar by the Institute of Foresters of Australia. The spidery-looking drone weighs 9.5 kilograms, has a wing (arm span) of 1.66 metres, a height of 1.5m and a top speed of 65 kph. “It’s difficult to move around, and is probably the biggest off-the-shelf registered drone you can buy. We picked that drone – it’s heavy so can handle quite a lot of wind before it gets too difficult,” said Eloise. The company had been doing manual spotting for six-and-a-half years before branching out into drone technology. It does surveys and population studies, assessing areas to which it can translocate families and what sort of management might be required. This takes place not just before harvesting, but also before controlled burns. It’s a tough business, getting up early, even in winter. “We can operate in the dark. I really don’t know why all the harvest operators want to start at 3am in the morning, but they do! “she said. Eloise said the forestry environment for flying was difficult, finding places to take off and land. “There are dozens of obstacles. It’s not as straight forward as flying in an open paddock,” said Eloise. The animals are identified through thermal imaging. While they survey, the harvesters cannot come near the tree. “It’s quite labour intensive and obviously a lot of koalas we are translocating are within the coupe boundaries. If we do not identify them and move them, they would be injured or killed. Koalas, unlike other wildlife, can’t jump out of the tree and move,” she said. “They are at risk of being felled with the tree and processed with the tree, or flicked out of adjoining trees with trees being felled. They are not threatened in Victoria, but it’s important we protect them and move them elsewhere.” Koalas are quite visible in blue gum forest, but they get confused, spending a lot of time in pine trees. “Seeing a koala in pine trees is very difficult. Even with young pine, you’ve got such a dense canopy it’s very hard to see. The drones have helped in that regard,” said Eloise. The drones have also greatly improved safety compared with manual spotting. “We ask the harvest operator to pause what he is doing – the machines are intimidating. We don’t have to be in the harvest area; we can be on a landing further away.” It also removes the hazard of having to walk in steep terrain through scrub and blackberries. The pilot plays a crucial role; an automated drone does not have the flexibility to give the accuracy needed to find the animals in often dense forest. “A drone is far more accurate than any person.  We have to stop the flight to check out every heat feature. Every heat signal looks the same to begin with – you need more time to identify it as a wombat, a koala, or a bird. Then you have to do some planning,” said Eloise. “Contrary to what you think, the lowest point is the best. In the gully you can fly up and keep line of sight opposed to on top of the hill, where you have to work from above the tree line and down. It gets easier as harvesting goes along as you have more clear fell area.” Weather – too much daylight, heavy rain or fog – can hamper using drones. However, eagles are the biggest enemy. “Generally in the dark, the eagles leave us alone, but they definitely work in packs. Once, there were five eagles, I got chased as I brought the drone in to land,” said Eloise. “A few have checked out the drone. Sometimes it’s a bit too big and noisy for some; you have to be a brave eagle to take it on. One actually threw the drone into a tree. Eagles were circling as we retrieved the drone.”  

Feedback sought on training package projects

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:06
ForestWorks is seeking feedback on the Prefabricated Timber Building Systems and Manufacture of Cross Laminated Timber and Glulam Projects. Source: Timberbiz Views and feedback is sought from industry specialists on job activities and knowledge required from people working in these areas. Once completed, this information will serve as the basis for the training delivery of nationally accredited courses. Feedback can be provided on one or all of the following job areas of prefabricated timber building systems, for which new units of competency have been developed. Design On-site manufacture Off-site installation ForestWorks is also seeking input on a range of existing units of competency relevant to the manufacture of Cross Laminated Timber and Glulam. Full project details and methods for feedback are available here for the Prefabricated Timber Building Systems Project and here for the Manufacture of Cross Laminated Timber and Glulam Project.

OFO maps its future growth in Australia and NZ

GFIS - Tue, 14/08/2018 - 00:03
OneFortyOne Plantations(OFO) is consolidating its position as a new vertically integrated company, including potentially using bioenergy as it maps future growth in Australia and New Zealand. Source: Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz The company’s executive general manger – forestry, Cameron McDonald, said the group’s recent two big purchases – the old Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) Jubilee mill at Mt Gambier and Nelson Forests in NZ – were key stages in the growth of the group, formed in 2012 as a pine plantation owner with institutional investors. OneFortyOne is based in the Green Triangle bordering South Australia and Victoria, which Mr McDonald described as Australia’s premier area for growing trees. It has 350,000 hectares of plantations – a mixture of radiata pine and blue gum – out of a total estate of 1.8 million ha. “It’s predominantly flat, with good soils, reasonably consistent rainfall,” he told the annual conference of the National Timber Councils Association in Melbourne last week. The large plantation base and diverse processing centre in the region, and the proximity to the Port of Portland, were key advantages. Mr McDonald said OFO’s immediate aim when established had been to build a strong foundation and “give the investors comfort they made the right decision”. “The investors are focussed on long-term growth. They see a lot of opportunity for the forestry sector in Australia and New Zealand,” he said. Mr McDonald said an immediate problem was how to deal with thinnings from pine operations after the pulp section of Kimberley Clark’s Millicent mill closed in 2011. The thinnings were round wood generally used by KC to generate pulp for tissue production. “That left a big issue for all growers of radiata pine – how to continue thinning given it was critical for sustainability of the estate?” he said. Exports were the only option, as small round wood had been exported through Portland since 2003. This required OFO to upgrade its Portland port infrastructure, which became muddy in winter. “There was strong demand out of China for round wood.  That gave us a market that has proven to be consistent and generating positive returns for those exports,” he said. Mr McDonald said diversifying the customer base was part of the company plan, which led to the acquisition of Jubilee. Jubilee had been consolidated with CCH’s Lakeside mill due to a low point in housing construction in 2011-12, which had taken a significant volume out of OFO’s sales to domestic customers. The next issue was finding a domestic option for low-end fibre. “There is ongoing worry about sustainability of selling small round wood to China given the cost of getting that to market. Generally, growers prefer domestic processing – it creates jobs for local community and tends to be a more stabile market in long term,” he said. Mr McDonald said the company was harvesting 2.1 million tonnes of radiata logs a year – 83% going into the domestic market – but expansion was helped by a few factors. “The South Australian Government allocated $27m from forward sale proceeds to allow domestic processors to invest in their mills production capacity,” he said. Secondly, the former Auspine mill at Tarpeena was bought by New Forests, which formed a new company Timberlink, where OFO’s plantation estate is located. Also, AKD Softwoods in Colac had embarked on expansion, buying other CCH mills on market, and investing a lot of money in their two Colac mills, including $35m in past 12 months in a new high-speed saw line. “This has been fortunate, with more stability in the main processing sector in the region, which has increased the timber demand,” he said. The company also cut its final harvest time from 41 years to 32 years – the optimal time to produce more timber. “So we have been able to increase supply as we have had additional capacity in local market to buy the wood,” he said. Mr McDonald said other GT companies formed the Association of Green Triangle Growers, which hired consultants to assess whether a processor would set up to use the surplus round wood. There were no takers, so the OFO board decided to do a feasibility study on spending $250 million on some form of panel production – either particleboard or MDF – using thinnings and waste material. “We felt we could generate 500,000 tonnes required to feed a modern particleboard mill,” he said. Ultimately, the OFO board decided instead to buy the Jubilee mill, which received approval from the ACCC in January. Now, thoughts were to use Jubilee’s residual material – forest waste, bark and sawdust, and offcuts – to alleviate the rising cost of energy. “Bioenergy is on the agenda to reduce the cost of the facility and use waste material we get little value from,” he said. “In a sawmill, we use a lot of steam to dry the timber in a kiln. That’s what we can do to be self-sufficient rather than generate surplus energy to the grid, but if that can be done, it adds to the business case. We are in early days in our thinking.” Mr McDonald said a new opportunity came last October when the asset suddenly came on to the market in NZ – Nelson Forests, on the South Island, with 62,000 ha of radiate pine in an area similar to Mt Gambier. “Again, OFO always wanted to grow, including in NZ. There is strong focus on domestic processing, with the right environmental and social outcomes – complementary to our existing operations,” he said. The company was now waiting on the overseas investment approval, with a decision expected in September or October. Mr McDonald said Australia only generated 75% of structural timber needs for local demand, with 25% imported. “The Victorian market – housing demand – is still growing strongly. We see the benefit of two sawmills – one producing a lot of clear sections for high use and the other structural for housing. There are more opportunities for us to explore,” he said. Mr McDonald […]


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