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Newsletter 52, October 2009

Newsletter 52, October 2009

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New Zealand Farm Forestry Association
P.O. Box 1122


Farm Forestry Newsletter
October 2009 No. 52

In this issue

Opinion, carbon trading

New Redwood report

T?ne's Tree Trust conference

Bio-oil from wood trials excite backers

Letter to PM on Sustainable Timber Bill

Environmental certification and the small forest grower

NZIF submission to Green Building Council on recognition of certified wood products


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

Farm Forestry Awards

Nominations for the Farm Forestry Awards are due by 1 November :
  • Husqvarna Farm Forester of the Year (North and South Island)
  • NZ Landcare Trust Innovation Award
  • Michael Hay Memorial Award.

Further information available on the NZFFA website or from National Office.

Opinion, carbon trading

I always thought carbon trading was a bad idea, but now the National Government are making sure of it by protecting energy intensive industries from the cost of carbon, thus providing clear signals to continue developing a fossil fuel powered economy. Its now a good idea to build a massive gas-fired power station near Auckland. Business as usual: the latest proposal is a coal to urea plant for Southland. This plant will use 2 million tonnes of coal per year, with plans to also produce diesel from lignite. Coal, the future of energy! Of course Solid Energy could instead consider wood fuel, but nobody thinks of trees and wood as fuel. After all forestry has only become a cheap source of carbon credits.

So industry have no signal to curb their emissions, the taxpayer wears this cost.
Simon Terry explains it well, how the government is using forests as a credit card that will need to be paid back in the 2020's. "The Government's proposals fail at the most basic level: making today's polluters pay today's emissions bill." A very weak political decision which puts an enormous cost burden on our children.

Under this policy the market pays rock bottom prices for forestry credits, and land prices remain artificially high. Oh well, foresters can always hang on to their credits until a future government is brave enough to allow the market to work as it should. Not that I reckon forest owners deserve a cent for "their" carbon. Its not really "property", but simply a counter for working out the bill taxpayers wear. Overall a fascinating experiment in human nature. Lesson: Its not just politicians who put self interest ahead of the collective interest. Forests not planted now can always be planted later, despite what FOA and Roger Dickie would have you beleive. The climate doesn't care, land not planted now is like a savings account. However the ignorant masses should perhaps be aware afforestation is no substitute for curbing fossil emissions. To do this requires renewable energy.

For other more informed opinions, you can go to Radio New Zealand, read the views of Associate Professor Euan Mason of the School of Forestry, the views of the Green party, journalist Pattrick Smellie, read about it in Friday Offcuts
 or even the opinion of Nick Smith, our Climate Change minister.
For more information, go to the MAF website to read about sustainable forestry and the ETS.
As always your opinions are welcome!

Dean Satchell

Denis Hocking comments:
I do not believe that the final form of the ETS is an indictment of carbon trading, rather it is a tribute to the squeaky wheel getting special treatment and largely negating the purpose of the ETS.  As designed I would regard it as invitation to pollute.


New Redwood report
A new report on Redwoods, ‘Predicting the Spatial Distribution of Sequoia Sempervirens Productivity in New Zealand’ by David J Palmer, Michael S Watt, Mark O Kimberley, Heidi S Dungey of Scion (NZ Forest Research Institute Ltd) is available on the MAF website at: Sequoia sempervirens or coast Redwood naturally occurs within a narrow coastal belt from southern-most Oregon to the South Monterey County, California. Recently there has been renewed interest in this species because almost all old-growth coast Redwood has been set aside in public holdings in California. This leaves an opportunity for NZ-grown timber to compete with second-growth coast Redwood. The emergence of an emissions trading scheme and the likelihood of attaining carbon credits for forests has spurred interest in establishing Sequoia sempervirens over the longer-term. The objectives of this study were to (i) develop a multiple regression model of site index and 400 index using independent variables obtained from maps and interpolated surfaces; and (ii) using this model to develop 400 index and site index surfaces for NZ. Site index is defined for this species as the height of the 100 largest diameter trees per hectare at breast height age 40 years. The 400 index is defined as the stem volume mean annual increment at breast height age 40 years for a reference regime of 400 stems/ha.

From NZIF newsletter 2009-37

T?ne's Tree Trust conference
Managing  Native Trees:  towards a National Strategy is T?ne’s Tree Trust’s ten year conference being held at the University of Waikato, Hamilton from 18 to 20 November 2009.  There will be a number of keynote speakers but the main focus of the conference will be on four workshops on the utilization of totara and beech regeneration, the economical establishment of planted indigenous forest, ecosourcing and the indigenous research programme. Email  for a brochure and enrolment form or go to the website


Bio-oil from wood trials excite backers
A consortium testing a demonstration plant at Pukekohe in New Zealand says that it has made 800kg of bio-oil and 500kg of biochar - and has international customers lining up. The demonstration plant uses third-generation pyrolysis technology, developed by Advanced BioRefinery Incorporated of Canada.

New Zealand company Alternative Energy Solutions has the South-East Asia and Pacific rights for the technology. The demonstration plant is owned by a consortium of AES, Malaysian-owned forestry company Ernslaw One, and the government's energy efficiency conservation authority, EECA.

Project head and AES co-founder Gavin Hedley told Carbon News that everyone involved is pleased with progress. The process produces a bio-oil which Hedley expects will be used in slow-turning diesel engines, such as those found in ships, and in oil-fired power stations. "You can't use it in ordinary cars, but you can use it to generate the electricity to run electric cars," he said.

The plant can use a variety of feedstocks, including waste wood from the forestry industry and bamboo, but AES has a policy of not using food crops. Hedley says that the demonstration plant is creating a great deal of regional interest, with customers from Japan, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. He hopes that manufacturing of the plant can be based in New Zealand.

Source: Carbon News 2009

Letter to PM on Sustainable Timber Bill
9 September 2009
Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Buildings

Dear Prime Minister

Cross-sectoral support for legislation to prohibit the importation of unsustainable and illegally logged timber.

A year ago forest industry and conservation groups signed a joint statement on the elimination of illegal forest products imports into New Zealand. The Statement called on the Government to take a leading role in stopping the importation of illegal forest products into New Zealand.

Recently a private member’s bill, the “Customs and Excise (Sustainable Timber) Amendment Bill” sponsored by the Green MP Catherine Delahunty, was drawn from the ballot. The forest sector, comprising the members of WoodCo and the Douglas Fir Association, in conjunction with the key environmental groups are writing to you to urge the National led Government to support the bill that requires all imports of timber and wood products into New Zealand to be legal, sustainable and certified by reputable certification processes to ensure the same level of confidence in the timber as is provided domestically by New Zealand legislation.

At the very least we would urge the National Government to support the bill at the first reading so that the legislation can be carefully considered by the appropriate select committee. 

Yours sincerely

NZ Forest Owners Association
Wood Processors Association of New Zealand
NZ Farm Forestry Association
NZ Pine Manufacturers
Forest Industry Contractors Association
The Douglas Fir Association

Forest & Bird

David Carter
Tim Grosser
Catherine Delahunty

Find out more here

Denis Hocking comments:
  I am concerned about the letter supporting Catherine Delahunty's Bill explicity stating a desire for certified timber. Remember that under WTO rules, Govt must apply same rules for imports and domestic production and we still don't have a certification system for farm foresters.  Consumers are at liberty to boycott certain products, but not Govts. No complaints about the report of it because that is what has happened, but worth noting this problem.

Environmental certification and the small forest grower

The report prepared for the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association on FSC is available on the website here.

NZIF submission to Green Building Council on recognition of certified wood products

NZIF recently made a submission to the US Green Building Council on the recognition of certified wood products. You might wonder about the relevance of this Council to NZ. However, some NZIF members are involved with a timber credits working party of the NZ Green Building Council. One of the problems we are having is that the NZGBC takes its lead from the Australian Green Building Council, who in turn take theirs from the USGBC.
While the current activity in all three countries is around how the GBCs decide what forest management certification schemes they will accept (by default it is FSC), all three are very reluctant to look at the more fundamental issues of:
  • Whether timber is being made to jump higher hurdles than the other materials (in NZ, for example, there are three points available for each of timber, steel and concrete. While timber has to be certified right back into the forest (FSC) to get all three points, steel and concrete do not have to be certified back into the quarries from which the raw material is extracted (and there are other related issues). This potentially means a higher cost just to get the three points, which has nothing to do with the environmental credentials of the material. It is conceivable that building specifiers will just use steel and/or concrete rather than timber, as that is the easiest way to get some points that they need for their overall score);
  • Basic comparisons of the three materials. In the submission to the USGBC, we reference a NZ life-cycle analysis of timber, concrete and steel buildings. But the NZGBC won’t let us consider that. They say that lif-cycle analysis is not yet a rigorous technology and they are not prepared to incorporate it in the Green Star building rating system. However there is an Australia/NZ Standard for Life-cycle Analysis (AS/NZS ISO 14041:1999), which is identical to ISO 14041:1998, so why can’t they accept analysis based on the Standard? I suspect that the main reason may be that the concrete and steel sectors seem to have far more sway on the NZGBC than the timber sector – possible a situation that also exists in Australia and the US.

So the NZIF submission to the US is aimed at getting a toe in the door at the place where some of the nonsense starts, rather than only banging away at the bottom of the chain.
(From NZIF newsletter Number 2009/40 – 16 October 2009)

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