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The facts about the proposed Great Koala National Park

Posted on 24 August, 2020 at 0:29 Comments comments (2)
On the back of the disastrous Koala SEPP, the Liberal National Party Government has again forgotten its rural constituents and the promises made by North Coast Nationals that they would not support a Great Koala National Park.

Want to know some facts about Koalas, the GKNP and its potential impacts on North Coast communities?

This is a presentation I gave to the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation, which includes Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Bellingen Shire Council and Kempsey Shire Council.

As you might imagine, I did not get a standing ovation from the Mayor of Bellingen or the General Manager of Destination North Coast, who are both pushing for the GKNP.




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Grade timber properly to take ‘Timber to Market’

Posted on 21 June, 2020 at 23:32 Comments comments (0)
Grade timber properly to take ‘Timber to Market’

Grade timber properly, avoid selling in bulk, use registered forestry experts and research thoroughly – those are some of the tips that forest growers should keep in mind as they take their timber to market. Source: Philip Hopkins

That was the message from Steve Dobbyns, a forestry consultant with decades of experience, who was a key speaker at a ‘Timber to Market’ session late last month. 

The seminar, organised by the Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers, was sponsored by VicForests.Mr Dobbyns said private timber growers were faced with the issue of selling the product as a ‘job lot’ or differentiating the timber out. 

“I’ve found if you tend to average anything, you end up with a buffer factor,” he said.

People tried to hedge their bets in offering a timber price.

“A lot of private growers … are offered a lump sum as a job lot. This is quite dangerous – you end up only with what the mill wants,” he said. 

“Divide the cake into various components – you will get a better average rate overall.”

Mr Dobbyns said owners should grade their timber as best they could. Grading both hardwood and softwood was based on internal defects and length defects such as bends, bump and lumps, with softwood a little easier to grade.

“The more grades you have, the more dollars you can achieve,” he said.

“Grading can be difficult. You should familiarise yourself with it. Most state organisations will have information to guide you on how to grade logs. There is a national competency in log measurement and grading that can be done through a registered training provider. You can also outsource that skill.”

Mr Dobbyns said the next influence on a sale price was the location of the property – whether the point of sale was made when the timber was delivered to the mill or sold on the stump. The delivered price included stumpage – the value of the timber on the stump – plus harvest and haulage.

“I tend to favour ‘deliver to the mill’ sales, particularly if the supply is from different locations,” he said. This made it harder for the consumer/processor to pick apart the various cost inputs.

“A processor can pay a certain amount of money for a log. It comes down to the distance from the mill and the quality of the log.”

Mr Dobbyns said the price was affected by how much timber there is, the volume per hectare on the property and the area available.

“The harvesting contractor tends to want a certain volume. They have costs to cover,” he said. They factored the cost of moving equipment in and out into their harvesting rate.

“The grower wants the harvesting contractor to be sharpening his pencil. The harvesting costs are generally 30-45 per cent of the delivered price. Those figures are based on the last two years of sales and $6.5 million products sold through my business,” he said.

The distance to market made up 15-30% of the delivered price.

“You can haul a good log a long way, but a poor or pulp log, you can’t take far at all.”

Mr Dobbyns said another impact on price was competition for other logs. Prices for private logs could be better in areas where the supply of logs from state forests declined due to more national parks. However, a run of good weather close to the end of the financial year meant the state authority could slowed or turn down wood from private buyers.

Roading also affected harvesting costs. The landowner owned the road and paid for the road costs, an area where the harvesting contractor had no expertise.

Mr Dobbyns said the timing of the sale and harvest could influence the price.

“In wetter months, supply is limited, so tends to get better prices. When it’s drier and everyone can work and produce, you tend to get weaker prices,” he said.

For landowners, wetter months meant higher roading costs, which “eats into residual”. Timing could also be important; for example, the Chinese New Year could affect export markets for six-seven weeks.

Another influence was the size of the property. Small holdings potentially achieved poorer pricing than larger holdings, who can offer security of supply for the customer.

Mr Dobbyns said market demand was affected by events such as bushfires, where burnt infrastructure raised demand for poles and posts.

“There is the opportunity to make good sales if you have the wood and are ready to go,” he said.

To gain information, there were a number of websites and newsletters with price data, while you could watch markets through subscriptions to ABARES.

“Another factor on price is motivation,” he said. Landowners for various reasons may have to sell their timber quickly.

Mr Dobbyns said owners should find out who the contractors were aligned to.

“Often mills have their own harvesting crews,” he said. Find out also whether the contractors had to a full range of markets. 

“Don’t deal with just one or two products. A butcher has a few prime cuts, but produces mince and sausages as well, so owners also need markets for those wood products and not have them lying in the bush.”

Mr Dobbyns said owners can do their own harvesting.

“That can put money back in your own pocket but comes with risks. There are a lot of requirements regarding work health and safety to be a timber contractor,” he said.

“You operate in the bush. You must have to satisfy both yourself and potentially WorkCover or similar in your state if something goes wrong. At the end of day, it’s better to hire someone with right equipment rather than do it yourself unless you are well set up and experienced.”

Mr Dobbyns said use Registered Forestry Professionals.

“The IFA provides an accreditation system for professional forest scientists and forest professionals,” he said. 

Many people claimed to be professional forestry consultants.

“Check whether they have RFP qualifications. It guarantees a level of professionalism you may not get with someone who labels themselves for consultant.”

Mr Dobbyns said doing an inventory of stock was a lot of work and not worth it, particularly if you had to pay someone. However, being thorough was crucial.

“Make sure every truck is on a numbered document, and you know what everyone in the supply chain is getting paid. Do research on reputable millers and contractors, ask for references,” he said.

“There are some bad news stories in the industry. Through the AFCA (Australian Forest Contractors Association), there is a ‘forest fit’ training program to provide contractors with business skills and a level of accreditation and professionalism. A gold licence for harvesting contractors exists. 

For security, with a motion sensing camera on the entrance and exit to your property, you can buy yourself a bit of peace of mind.”
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A forest scientist's view of the recent Australian bushfires

Posted on 4 June, 2020 at 1:53 Comments comments (0)
This was written (quite brilliantly) by a good friend and fellow forest scientist. He beautifully dismantled the rhetoric around the cause of this summer’s bushfires. I wish I’d written it.

I know I can be accused of bias by supporting a fellow forester who is trying to bring some realism and pragamatism into the debate on bushfires in Australia. My plea, however, is for those of you without forest management experience to be aware of the real situation. I ask that you are very careful what sources of information you rely on to help frame your views in this debate. 

For too many years now, we have bureaucrats called Fire Commissioners with little or no on-ground fire experience (the recently rewarded ex-NSW Commissioner was a mechanic and his deputy a plumber).  Add to the list the academics, comfortably ensconced in their leafy campus offices, sipping lattes, while developing opaque fire behaviour models. They are the ones telling governments how we should deal with this issue. Neither groups have fought a wildfire or planned a prescribed burn. 

For too long now, (really since 1994 when new Emergency management laws were enacted in most States), we have seen fire in our forests continually mismanaged, or more correctly unmanaged. We have seen a system of fuel management in cooler months that worked, dismantled and replaced by an emergency response system that does not work and is grossly expensive.  This new system relies on aerial water bombers to put out a fire with the equivalent energy force of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. It is futile and a waste of money - your taxes are funding this epic failure.

Blaming the disastrous fire seasons of 1997, 2002-03, 2007, 2009, 2013-14, 2017 and 2019-20 on climate change is fatuous and a simplistic ploy to divert attention away from the incompetence of these bureaucrats and academics who have failed the public, the animals and the forests for over two decades. No matter what the Commissions of Inquiries or Royal Commissions say about the value of broad-scale low intensity burns, the same bureaucrats and academics manage to bury that message. They have inflicted two decades of pestilence and damage on us. 

They argue you can ignore the build-up of fuel across the broad landscape and prevent these devastating fire seasons if you just address climate change. We have always had bad fire seasons even before CO2 in the atmosphere was deemed an issue. We had Black Thursday in 1851 (Vic); we had Black Sunday in 1926 (Gippsland, Vic); we had Black Friday in 1939 (Vic), we had Black Tuesday in 1967 (Hobart). In fact nearly every day of the week was charred before climate change became an issue. 

The bureaucrats and academics argue you only have to regularly burn immediately adjacent to houses in order to save them. They argue if you spend millions of tax-payer funds on aerial water bombers they can be used to fight the fires, save houses and protect lives. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The evidence is the millions of hectares of charred and black forests that have been irretrievably changed.  Unless we reintroduce low intensity, prescribed burns across the landscape that mimics (within the 21st century limitations) the Aboriginal management for millennia, we will see our forests continue to change for the worse.

We will continue to have severe fire weather combined with bad droughts, even if we change to 100% renewable energy overnight. There are claims that fire seasons have started earlier and extended later under climate change. There is no evidence for this.  In the sub-tropical areas of south-east Queensland and northern NSW the fire season has always been during spring before the summer wet season. In 2019-20 it was no different. Bad fire weather in November in NSW was compounded by the fact that fires lit either intentionally or started by lightning strikes under mild conditions were not extinguished. Unfortunately this is now common. Foresters developed a sophisticated system of fire surveillance and rapid attack, supported by infrastructure and fire trails to complement their fuel management. When this system was fully developed in the 1960s it worked. Their system, however, was gradually dismantled almost immediately starting with a broader conservation consciousness in the 1970s. The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires were a warning signal of the consequences of not  managing the fuels and maintaining an efficient on-the-ground fire detection system. 

Unfortunately the dismantling continued with the disintegration of the forestry services and the establishment of millions of hectares of National Parks. Australians allowed benign neglect to take over and its insidious impacts went unnoticed until fires exploded over the landscape after a series of drought years combined with a torch. Unattended small fires in inaccessible areas, waited for the opportunity to expose their ugly flames on a bad day.

Most of all the large fires in the 2019-20 season started as small fires under mild conditions in October, and were allowed to continue uncontained. They should have been contained and extinguished, if possible. We have a chance of minimising the impacts of fires on blow up days if the fuel has been managed.  We have no chance if it is unmanaged across millions of hectares. Fuel reduction burning does not stop wildfires, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier to manage wildfires, protect houses and save lives. 

Please read the attached article carefully if you truly want to understand the plight we face and share widely with your friends who may be affected or interested in this calamity. Our local MPs need to hear from their constituents and made aware of the failings of our current system. They should not solely hear from the bureaucrats and the academics who have failed all of us. They need to be held accountable. We are all impacted through grossly increased insurance premiums, increased government regulations, and wasted tax payer spending. 

Foresters have been ringing the alarm bells for awhile now and we have been ignored. Media choose to ignore our story because our detractors use emotional, nonsensical and puerile stories against us which the media prefer to hear. 

We need your support to change things and to save our forests and animals. More than ever our forests need professional managers, not tradesmen and computer modellers.

If you want some links and references to the science that foresters rely on as part of their professional management, I would be happy to share with you.

https://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20934
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There’s wood pulp in our food - and we like it

Posted on 7 July, 2016 at 21:09 Comments comments (0)
You won’t find “wood pulp” listed plainly on any food ingredient labels, but don’t be so quick to turn your nose up at the idea. The powdered cellulose derived from wood pulp already can be found in several shredded or grated cheese products, keeping them from clumping in the packaging when exposed to moisture. And now food scientists are researching how incorporating more wood-based products, mostly pulp and dust, can enhance how other foods feel and keep. 

Finnish researchers have found that the hemicellulose extracted from the pulp of birch trees and then added to many yogurts—the actual name of that ingredient is “xylan”—is one way to keep yogurt feeling smooth. And lignin—which can be found in bark—is one way to ensure morning muffins will be buoyant and fluffy. 

“Lignin proved to be a surprisingly efficient substitute for whole eggs and egg yolks,” according to the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which finds not only that wood-based products have applications to a lot of foods, but that people might actually like them better that way. “As technology develops, increasingly sophisticated ingredients can be extracted from wood,” the VTT says. 

The use of wood-based food additives already has become more popular for food manufacturers as they experience higher costs for raw materials, such as flour, sugar, and oil, the Wall Street Journal found. And demand for the additives has risen as processed foods become more popular in China and India. But some food manufacturers have been accused of sprinkling the stuff into their products a little too liberally. 

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Taking the N out of NIMBY

Posted on 8 October, 2015 at 22:41 Comments comments (0)
How can it be an environmentally, or indeed ethically, defensible position to cross our arms and simply import greater and greater volumes of product from far-flung corners of the globe because we aren’t growing sufficient of our own timber on shore?

Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said, "The world needs much more, not less, of this sustainable, renewable and truly green resource. And it needs more of it from Australia.” AFPA is also placing advertisements in regional newspapers in key plantation areas such as the Green Triangle in South Australia and Victoria, central tablelands and southern NSW, south east Queensland, and southwest WA.

Mr Hampton said, “Although we have just experienced a record boom in construction, much of the growth has been filled by sawn softwood from as far afield as Europe. This is, in part, because we aren't providing sufficient plantation resource in this country for our domestic sawmills. AFPA will be shortly releasing a comprehensive new policy solution to this crisis."


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Humble pine

Posted on 27 August, 2015 at 20:31 Comments comments (0)
Humble Pine; the unsung hero of the Australian timber industry

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Rebuilding Vanuatu's forestry

Posted on 19 April, 2015 at 22:33 Comments comments (0)
When Cyclone Pam blew in to Vanuatu on March 13 it set back development of this proud, independent island nation. Villagers are very dependent on agriculture and forestry to raise small amounts of cash. The trees that they grow in their gardens supply nuts and fruit, but also occasional sales of timber that are used for local construction or to pay secondary school fees. Australian forestry has had a long tradition of working with Vanuatu, and this appeal is being supported by the Institute of Foresters of Australia and Foresters Without Borders.

But there's a problem

The Department of Forests and the Vanuatu Foresters' Association provide seedlings and support to farmers and forest growers across all of the major islands of the 86 islands of Vanuatu. Nurseries, shedding and houses for forest workers have all been damaged.
Here's what we're doing about it.

This appeal is to raise money for repairs and reconstruction of buildings and nurseries and provide sufficient nursery materials to help growers produce additional trees to reforest areas damaged by the cyclone and get Vanuatu back on the path to self-sufficient agriculture and forestry.

With money from this appeal the Department of Forests and members of the Vanuatu Foresters' Association will re-build and support growers whose livelihoods have been affected by the cyclone. 

We have budgeted for re-roofing and repairing buildings, buying shadecloth and greenhouse materials, and new rainwater tanks. We aim to raise at least $30,000.



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How the internet began

Posted on 16 April, 2015 at 19:17 Comments comments (0)
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy. 

Dot Com was a comely woman, large of breast, broad of shoulder and long of leg.

Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"

Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"

Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.

The drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighbouring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. Indeed he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others."

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or eBay as it came to be known.

He said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."

And Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators." "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside.

It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

That is how it all began. And that's the truth!
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Manscaping for REAL men.....!!

Posted on 31 March, 2015 at 19:39 Comments comments (0)

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The Most Ancient and Magnificent Trees From Around the World

Posted on 1 February, 2015 at 18:28 Comments comments (0)
The Most Ancient and Magnificent Trees From Around the World msn.com

The Bowthorpe Oak is a massively thick, millennium-old tree in Lincolnshire, England that once was rumored to hold three dozen people in its enormous, hollowed-out trunk. Beth Moon photographed the leafy giant some 15 years ago and was struck by its solemn nobility and overwhelming presence. 

Thus began a pilgrimage that would take her around the world to document the planet’s most ancient trees.

The series and corresponding photo book, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, is a collection of beautiful, stoic images that feel suspended in time. Though our distant ancestors left the shelter and safety of trees some 3.5 million years ago, Moon’s work points to our enduring affinity for—and exploitation of—really, really big trees.
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