Quick Six - December

Changes to New Zealand’s Forest Biosecurity Surveillance System

The NZ forest industry has been surveying its collective forest estate under the Forest Health Surveillance System since the 1950s, to detect any new forestry pests and pathogens as well as monitor forest health. A team from Bayesian Intelligence and Scion has reviewed the risk of incursion across the seven import pathways (sea vessels, used vehicles, used machinery, sea containers, wood packaging, wooden furniture, live plants) as well as the movement of people. They have developed a model that estimate the relative probability of specific threats at the main entry points. The new model recommends that 90% of the surveillance should be focused on urban and semi-urban areas, and not in the forest as has been traditionally done. The updated model didn’t cover all pathways, so some forest surveillance is still required. Following these recommendations, the team has carried out a feasibility trial and completed a five-year plan for rolling out surveys on a fully operational nationwide scale. 

NZ trucking firm undertaking hydrogen trials

NZ trucking group TIL Logistics and Hiringa Energy have agreed to jointly investigate hydrogen fuel options. The three-phase project could involve vehicle trials of hydrogen fuel cells by 2020. Further roll-out of the technology in the fleet would depend on the development of refuelling infrastructure that Hiringa is scoping and developing with a range of partners, TIL said.  TIL Chief executive Alan Pearson said the company, a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition, is determined to reduce its carbon emissions and lighten its environmental footprint. “Hydrogen technology offers a zero-emission fuel solution,” he said.  “While there are a range of production, deployment and infrastructure options to be worked through, the use of hydrogen fuel has the potential to power our national fleet from a renewable source.”  Some of New Zealand’s biggest fleet operators and heavy industry are backing research into hydrogen as a potential alternative to diesel for long-distance trucking and potentially for some industrial heat applications.  

Swamp kauri export loophole now closed

New Zealand's highest court has ruled that exporting slabs of swamp kauri as "tabletops" or swamp kauri logs as "totem or temple poles" is illegal under the Forests Act. The decision marks an important victory for the Northland Environmental Protection Society, which has challenged the Ministry of Primary Industries, Customs Department and Ministry of Culture and Heritage through the courts to close down the export trade in unimproved slabs and logs of the rare and lucrative resource. "A slab of swamp kauri labelled a table top would not fit" the definition of manufactured product in the Act, the judges concluded. "The use as a table could not be discerned from the product itself. Further, a table top is not a product in its own right and thus is not ready to be installed in a larger structure." While the five judges of the Supreme Court did not agree that pieces of swamp kauri were covered by the Protected Objects Act, the ruling means that unless a swamp kauri exporter turns such a slab into a real piece of furniture, the loophole under which such timber has been exported to date is now closed.

Watch a stunning wood skyscraper rise in Norway

The link below shows progress on the construction of the tallest all-wood building in the world. The 18-story project is being built in Brumunddal, about 90min drive north of Oslo.


Engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight cardboard

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure.  Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call “nanocardboard,” an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square centimetre of nanocardboard weighs less than a thousandth of a gram and can spring back into shape after being bent in half.  Nanocardboard is made out of an aluminum oxide film with a thickness of tens of nanometers, forming a hollow plate with a height of tens of microns. Its sandwich structure, similar to that of corrugated cardboard, makes it more than ten thousand times as stiff as a solid plate of the same mass.  Nanocardboard’s stiffness-to-weight ratio makes it ideal for aerospace and microrobotic applications, where every gram counts. In addition to unprecedented mechanical properties, nanocardboard is a supreme thermal insulator, as it mostly consists of empty space.  The results of their research can be found in the journal Nature Communications 

Global warming increases frost damage risk on trees in Central Europe

Late frost damages significantly impact agriculture and forestry. Due to climate change and warming temperatures Plants flower and leaf out earlier than they used to. As a result, the incidence of frost damages will increase

A study investigated the leafing out and flowering of 27 tree species across Europe over 30 years. The data was merged with climate data for the sites, and statistical models were used to understand patterns of potentially damaging frost events. 

How trees adapt to these warmer temperatures is yet to be fully understood.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-12-global-frost-trees-central-europe.html#