Quick Six - March

Forestry in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) 

Forestry exports for the year ending June 2020 are expected to decrease by 17.9 percent to $5.7 billion driven by falling Chinese demand for logs. This is $0.5 billion lower than the previous forecast released in December 2019. Expectations that the log market would improve after Chinese New Year have been overtaken by trade disruptions due to COVID-19.

Log inventories at Chinese ports are near or at capacity. With recent low levels of daily log sales, current intelligence puts the backlog at upwards of 4 months of supply. Clearing the backlog, however, will only be part of the problem going forward. Construction activity also usually slows down when China moves into the hotter months so it may take until September for demand to begin to reach normal levels.

Price competition will also remain a large factor in the market, as there is still a continuous supply of lower priced European spruce logs and the introduction of Australian salvage logs will also increase supply pressure.

Volumes of timber exports remained only slightly below our previous forecast despite mill closures in the North Island late last year and lay-offs in February 2020. There is ongoing uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19 on timber production.

In the short term, reduced demand for logs from China has affected prices that domestic processors are paying to source logs. However, if forest owners cease harvesting logs altogether, this could result in reduced supply.

Source: Woodweek.

NZTA denied opportunity to restrict logging trucks in Marlborough

The NZTA made a submission in the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan suggesting commercial forestry trucks need a resource consent to drive on or cross state highways. NZTA hoped the new rule would allow it to better judge the potential damage that forestry trucks might cause, then manage effects. But the plan's panel of commissioners said it was not appropriate to single out the weights and effects of trucks servicing a single industry. Plans to police forestry trucks on highways in Marlborough are not appropriate, say the commissioners who declined the proposal. The panel instead decided to add a few lines to the plan, highlighting the powers it could use under the Land Transport Act to manage the potential damage caused by heavy loads, including harvested logs and quarried rock on both state highways and local roads.

Source: Friday Offcuts

Ruakura inland port at Hamilton in two years

Tainui Group Holdings and Port of Tauranga plan to develop a 50:50 joint venture to bring the Ruakura Inland Port at Hamilton to fruition within two years. The new joint venture will take an initial 50-year ground lease to establish the inland port. Source: Timberbiz

The plan is to start port operations at Ruakura following the opening of the nearby Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, currently scheduled for the end of 2021.

Parekawhia McLean, Chair of Te Whakakitenga o Waikato, the Waikato-Tainui parliament (and parent organisation of Tainui Group Holdings) said the iwi is pleased to team up with New Zealand’s largest international hub port to bring Ruakura Inland Port to life.

“It’s exciting to confirm a concrete path forward for this project of national significance which will unlock economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand, our region and our iwi,” Ms McLean said.

Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, said there was a strong logic to team up with Tainui Group Holdings to unlock efficiencies for importers and exporters by utilising Ruakura Inland Port.



FENZ, Scion and DOC undertake fire research burns in Rakaia Gorge

The experimental burns occurred in Rakia Gorge during the first two weeks of March.

Scion senior fire scientist Grant Pearce says the experimental burns will provide data that can be used to develop improved fire behaviour models and prediction tools for rural fire managers.

“It’s a bit odd to be lighting fires when the country is so dry, but the best way to learn more about fire behaviour and flame spread mechanisms is to study actual fires in conditions as close to real life as possible,” says Grant.

“Data on how fast and intense fire can be in heavy gorse, and a chance to look at smoke behaviour, will help us understand how fire behaves in scrub fuel types. In turn, this information will help rural fire and emergency response agencies to prevent fires from occurring and to respond to wildfires that do occur more quickly and safely.”


New Zealand’s “most photographed tree” ‘That Wanaka tree’, vandalized

Wanaka's world-famous willow tree – whose crooked branches are captured in camera lenses from across the globe – has been attacked with a saw.

Community members are outraged at the "senseless" attack on the lone tree, which grows near the shores of Lake Wanaka in Roys Bay and started life as a fence post at least 80 years ago.

It has been described as a symbol of determination and even has its own hashtag, #thatwanakatree. In 2014, Kiwi photographer Dennis Radermacher won the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year award for best landscape photograph for his picture of the tree, and since then its fame has continued to grow on social media.


Source: Stuff.co.nz

Biocontrol for Willow pest released in New Zealand

After years of hard work, researchers from Scion have begun releasing a biocontrol to manage the giant willow aphid (GWA). The biocontrol is a parasitoid insect that will control GWA naturally, avoiding the use of pesticides and their potential to harm nectar feeders. GWA have caused a slew of problems for willows and for beekeepers. Pest wasp populations reach plague proportions because of the plentiful food source provided by the aphids secreting sticky honeydew while feeding on willows. Bees also feed on the GWA honeydew, but it produces crystalised honey that cannot be extracted. Willow trees also suffer, experiencing branch dieback and occasionally death. Biocontrol project leader, Stephanie Sopow, explains why this is an issue in New Zealand, “Several varieties of willow are highly valued here for various uses such as slope stabilisation, protecting stream banks from erosion, crop and livestock shelter, and providing pollen and nectar for bees in spring.” GWA has a natural enemy called Pauesia nigrovaria (Pauesia), which is a small parasitoid insect that naturally attacks GWA in areas where it is native. Pauesia reproduces by laying an egg inside a GWA, which hatches and develops inside the aphid, eventually killing it.