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Newsletter 51, August 2009

Newsletter 51, August 2009

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New Zealand Farm Forestry Association
P.O. Box 1122


Farm Forestry Newsletter
August 2009 No. 51

In this issue

Kyoto and forests: Opinion piece

Support for timber

Growing Short rotation Energy Crops: The potential explored


Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) update - Forestry

Nectria update

Freshwater quality

Ban on treated wood

Comment on forestry and climate change


Patrick Milne
-North Canterbury
-Central canterbury
-West Coast

Vice President

John Dermer
-Middle districts

Newsletter editor
Dean Satchell

National Executive

Denis Hocking
-Taupo & Districts
-Hawkes Bay

Ian Jackson
-South Canterbury
-North Otago
-Sthn High Country (north)

Neil Cullen
-Mid Otago
-South Otago
-Men of Trees
-Sthn High Country (south)

Dean Satchell
-Far North
-Mid North
-Lower North
-South Auckland


Constitutional Changes:
Changes have been enacted to establish NZ Farm Forestry Assn. as a registered charity.  This will allow FFA to receive donations without GST or grants which include GST, for research, etc.
Branches can be brought into the charity structure, but it is suggested  useful only if they are likely to pay tax, otherwise a lot of effort is required listing lots of people, submitting accounts, etc. for little gain.

Sustainable Farming Fund
The next SFF funding round is now open.  Branches/action groups please contact your executive with ideas/proposals.  Applications for larger grants (>$20,000) close in October, and small grants (<$20,000) on February next year.

Our very own marketplace is online, for buying and selling anything farm forestry related, from tree seedlings to timber. Use it or lose it!

The NZFFA website has gone through a major overhaul and the Farm Forestry Model section is now up and running. Click on the "Farm Forestry Model" link from the main page.

There is an events section of the website. Please can branch newsletter editors make sure that Head Office is on their mailing lists, and check to see whether their field trips are there on the website.
Also, Countrywide should be notified of branch events. Call Liz Pither on 0800 852 580.

Kyoto and forests: Opinion piece
Recently, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announced new data showing that New Zealand has sufficient forests to offset increases in emissions since 1990. At about the same time, a European buyer purchased approximately 520,000 forestry AAUs from the New Zealand forestry company, Ernslaw One Limited. This was the world's largest transaction to date involving a purchase and sale of forestry AAUs. This all got me thinking. I'm wondering if somebody could explain to me how these forests Dr Smith is referring to could be used as offsets for the countries emissions liabilities, when the carbon is owned privately, mostly by forest companies. Ernslaw One's managing director Thomas Song says that the deal "proves the viability of carbon as an export for New Zealand forest owners". But what I see is Earnslaw selling the right to change land use on a chunk of NZ for a one-off easy wad of cash. Our forefathers worked really hard clearing N.Z.'s forests, giving the country the opportunity for forest carbon sequestration to help the taxpayer furnish the burden of their emission reductions. This should be a public property, not something for land owners to sell abroad and add as a speculative value to any land which can be put into forest.

I'm not so sure that "exporting carbon" will benefit anyone except those doing the deals. I fear the ramifications will be with us for much longer than Earnslaw, who are clearly not doing this for the atmosphere.

Anyway, on to emission targets, we've all had the opportunity recently to have our say on NZ's 2020 emissions target policy. I hear the minister bemoaning a 40% cut in emissions, saying this will cost us each $3,000 a year- yet at the recent Wood Energy Summit Don Roberts of CIBC Canada said “You need a price of US$60-70 a barrel [of oil] to make bioenergy pay”. So does this mean New Zealand could be on the road to a carbon-neutral forest-fuelled economy simply by setting the price of carbon for >$65 a barrel? Is renewable energy  really so painful and unpalatable for a demanding public, for Nick Smith to have weakened our comittment to as little as 10% reductions from 1990 levels?

Peter Berg, president of the Forest Owners Association quotes Infometrics figures which "suggest that to achieve even a modest commitment of 20% below 1990 levels requires a carbon price of more than $200 a tonne". In the gold rush for forest credits, maybe us foresters are forgetting that what dictates the price of carbon is not just the level of the emissions cap, but also the price of renewable energy- in particular the marginal cost of renewables over fossil fuels. Remember folks, this was actually all supposed to be about energy...

So why is everyone forgetting about renewable energy, preferring the proverbial sand in which to place their heads? Why has there been no study on the cost margins of a lowest cost renewables mix in N.Z and the impact on the economy under emissions targets? What is the cost to the taxpayer of balancing our carbon books simply with lowest cost renewables, especially wood energy, now that I assume the taxpayer gets little benefit from forest sequestration? How much wood waste is available and what would be the real cost to our economy to utilise this waste and reduce emissions? I've heard recently that the convergence of world markets for fibre, fuel and food is triggering worldwide changes in land use patterns, and will lead to major changes within the forest products sector. So shouldn't the value of wood mean a little more to us than the dubious (I'd call spurious) payout for forest carbon? Shouldn't the direction our forestry industry heads in be a bit more oriented towards wood production for all uses and markets, including energy, ahead of selling off land-use rights?

Keep in mind that with New Zealand tracking on "business as usual", emissions will be 40% above 1990 levels by 2020. Therefore surely our response to emissions should reflect its grave and serious nature. Yet I hear Catherine Beard, executive director of the Greenhouse Policy Coalition, saying "Short of shooting livestock and exporting people, our business as usual emissions growth to 2020 could be another 20%". Maybe she, like Nick Smith, has not given any thought to the marginal cost of renewable energy. The Government appears to have relied on macro-economic analysis of emissions prices without analysing opportunities. At least the Greens have taken a peek at how much of a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target we could meet in NZ at low cost.

With forest companies "exporting our carbon", looks like we're stuck with forestry as a compulsory and increasing land use- so maybe we should give more thought to a wood energy economy. Freighting logs by sea to Asia will incur an ever increasing "carbon" cost, while demand for woody biomass for energy can only improve in a carbon constrained economy... so do we have enough trees?

Your opinions please.

Dean Satchell


Support for timber
from NZIF Newsletter 2009-29 (31 Jul 09)
It was good to see the MAF media release last Friday headed “Timber is tops for environmentally friendly buildings”. The statement accompanied the release of a Canterbury University / Scion / Victoria University of Wellington report “Environmental Impacts of Multi-Storey Buildings Using Different Construction Techniques”, which is available at

The study looked at life-cycle energy use and CO2 equivalent emissions of four similar office building designs that used different materials as their main structural element: concrete, steel, timber and “timber plus” (in which maximum use was made of timber, not just for the structure, but also for architectural features such as exterior cladding, windows and ceilings).

The steel building had the highest net environmental impact, producing 6,789 tonnes CO2 equivalent, the concrete building produced 2.5% less emissions (6,627 tonnes), the timber one 20% less emissions than steel (5,454 tonnes), while the timber plus building produced only 4,571 tonnes (33% less than those produced by the steel building).

While the conclusions are not surprising to many of us in the forestry sector, it is great to see our intuition confirmed and quantified and is an excellent addition to the arsenal needed to defend our product.

There is some interesting material in the report. This includes a discussion on whether or not the NZ Green Building Council Green Star office rating tool captures the full environmental impacts of energy consumption and global warming potential and if the tool recognises the benefits of reutilising all materials. There is also discussion on reutilising or disposing of treated timber at the end of the life of a timber building.
Andrew McEwen, President NZIF


Growing Short rotation Energy Crops: The potential explored

Taupo plays host to a conference organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 30 organisation this December to examine the potential of short rotation crops (SRC) as a source of future energy supplies.

Promoted under the banner, “Short Rotation Crops: Linking technology and biomass,” the conference has attracted high profile international speakers who will provide an overview of current knowledge in the area of SRC and country-specific case studies. Two companies with strong New Zealand connections –  Crown Research Institute, Scion, and Pure Power Global, a renewable resources company –  will be supporting the IEA host and manage the three day event.

New Zealand – and Taupo in particular – is an entirely appropriate place for the discussion to take place. The climate and soils of New Zealand provide many opportunities for producing biomass for energy. While forest residues play a significant part of current energy production, there are many other potential sources of dedicated energy crops. Opportunities include willow, eucalypts, switch grass and other woody and lignocellulosic species that have the added benefit of not competing with food crops.

Along with providing a background to current and emerging SRC, the primary conference theme will explore the technologies essential to creating a viable system. These include processes for converting SRC into energy for heat or biofuels, efficient harvesting systems and tools for land use optimisation. Another key aspect to be covered is establishing pathways to market. The event will conclude with a field trip to current SRC operations in the Taupo region.

Conference organiser and Scion scientist Ian Nicholas says delegates will gain a greater appreciation of the international and domestic knowledge on potential SRC, potential energy pathways and the role of technology. He says the conference will be of interest to land owners and managers, government agencies, bioenergy suppliers and investors, and scientists and researchers in the field of bioenergy.

Pure Power Global  plantation manager, Kevin Snowdon, describes the timing as opportune. “New-generation lignocellulosic conversion processes represent a set of disruptive technologies that are now ready for deployment across a broad spectrum of feedstock resources in plantation forests in North America, South America, Asia and New Zealand.”

The conference runs from 2 to 4 December, with a pre-conference meeting for IEA Bioenergy Task 30 members on 1 December. Registrations are now open with an early bird discount available until 31 August 2009. Details and a registration form can be downloaded at



Woodwatch is the NZ Wood industry news page

Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) update - Forestry

  • Forestry remains actively in the ETS.
  • The obligation to surrender emissions units to meet deforestation liabilities from 1 January 2008 remains unchanged. However, there is a delay in the date by which emissions units have to be surrendered in order to meet deforestation obligations - along with changes to certain notification requirements.
  • For pre-1990 forest land, on 30 June 2009 the Government amended the Climate Change Response Act 2002 (CCRA) as follows:
  • the notification deadline for deforestation of pre-1990 forest land that occurred during 2008 and 2009 has been deferred from 31 January 2009 to 31 January 2010;
  • participants will not be penalised for failing to notify deforestation of pre-1990 forests by the old deadline (31 January, 2009), provided the participant notifies by 31 January 2010;
  • participants who deforested pre-1990 forest land during 2008 or 2009 are still obliged to file an emissions return quantifying their deforestation liability, between 1 January and 31 March 2010 (there has been no change to these dates);
  • the deadline for surrendering emissions units to meet deforestation liabilities reported in an emissions return has been deferred from 30 April 2010 to 30 April 2011. Participants may chose to surrender emissions units to meet their deforestation liabilities anytime between 1 January 2011 and 30 April 2011;
  • the 30 June 2009 deadline for applications for a less than 50 hectare exemption has been revoked. A new deadline, no later than 1 July 2010, will be prescribed by regulation or public notice;
  • For post-1989 forest land the Government made no changes to the CCRA. Applications may still be made at any time to voluntarily register post-1989 forest land in the ETS. Registered ETS participants remain entitled to receive New Zealand Units (NZUs) for increases in net carbon stocks from 1 January 2008.
For more information call 0800 CLIMATE or visit


Nectria update
Pruned stub infection trial - March 2009 assessments
L. S. Bulman, Scion,  May 2009

  1. Fluting incidence is related to stub size.
  2. Stubs smaller than 60 mm seldom lead to serious Nectria damage.
  3. Winter pruning results in more infection than summer pruning.
  4. Inoculation immediately after pruning results in increased infection.
  5. Flute development is slow and fruit bodies take at least 9 months to develop after treatment.
The most significant results from the trial, from a management perspective, are that it appears that only large stubs are associated with disease. Limiting branch stub size to less than 60 mm and avoiding pruning operations in winter should significantly reduce levels of Nectria disease.


Freshwater quality
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith recently released two new reports on freshwater quality, one of them a baseline study on at water quality in dairy farming catchments. "There is a significant water quality issue emerging in areas of intensive farming, particularly dairying… It is no surprise that the report identifies degraded water quality in these areas and reinforces the need for further Government initiatives."


Ban on treated wood
The USDA National Organic Programme is banning any further use of preservative treated wood, especially copper-chrome-arsenate treated (tanalised) wood after July next year.  Organic growers wanting to export certified organic produce to the United States will not be able to use any more treated wood, though existing structures can remain.  This will even include fence posts in the boundary fences.

Farm foresters may well find organic farmers approaching them for either supplies of ground durable timber, or advice on what to grow.  However it is doubtful that there will be enough ground durable timber to fill even this niche market and it seems likely that there will be increased use of steel, concrete, plastic and even aluminium.  However this may be a market worth catering for and could be an indicator of things to come.
Denis Hocking


Comment on forestry and climate change
This link is to some excellent comments on forestry and climate change prepared for the Royal Society by Euan Mason and David Evison.


Farm Forestry - Headlines

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