Very Cool Yule Logs

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This image arrived by way of a series of forwarded emails. I have so far been unable to verify the original source for credit and date taken. Perhaps someone can confirm those details? The subject line was Roseburg Log Yard. (Hat Tip: Tom Davis)
Updated (12/17): 
A comment at this post led to Eileen Burmeister, Communication Director at Roseburg Forest Products. Eileen confirms the photo was taken last week by a team member in their Dillard (Oregon) Sawmill log yard. It is posted here with permission.

“China’s Fibre Deficit”

China forest products import data released this morning for October (CIBC Equity Research):

  • Lumber – In Oct 2013 China imported 2,170,000 m3 of lumber at an average cost of $286 per m3. Lumber imports are up 34% compared to Oct 2012 when they were 1,620,000 m3. YTD lumber imports are 19.720 million m3 compared to 16.870 million m3 in the prior period (up 16.9%).
  • Logs – In Oct 2013 China imported 3,680,000 m3 of logs at an average price of $201 per m3. Log imports are up 61.4% compared to Oct 2012 when they were 2,280,000 m3. YTD log imports are 36.940 million m3 compared to 31.390 million m3 in the prior period (up 17.7%).

Interestingly, the report notes Russian log exports to China are down nearly 8.2% YTD. This decrease is explained by Russia’s export taxes on logs over quota limits and increasing log harvesting and transportation costs. Evidently filling that gap, there were substantial increases in log imports from New Zealand and the U.S. Pacific Northwest: “In fact, New Zealand is now a larger log supplier to China than Russia, which would have been unthinkable five or six years ago.” The October breakdown for B.C. exports is pending.

“We estimate that China’s fibre deficit in 2013 will be approximately 168 million m3 and it is forecast to grow some 30 million m3 (9% per annum) over the next two years.”
– Mark Kennedy, CIBC

Fibre Play

As lumber traders across North America land in Las Vegas this afternoon for the 2013 NAWLA Traders Market, there’s plenty of industry news to peruse. For starters, while the majority of B.C. lumber exported to China continues to be low-grade, The Vancouver Sun confirms here today that there has been a 12% year-over-year increase in higher grade shipments for wood-frame construction. “Efforts by B.C. to introduce wood-frame construction – including the use of roof-building systems and infill and exterior walls in apartment construction – are beginning to gain wider acceptance.”

In the same paper, another report here reveals that China’s interior is an untapped market for B.C. lumber. “In the interior you have what the Chinese refer to as small cities of 10 million people where there is virtually no Canadian lumber yet,” explains Wayne Guthrie, Senior VP of Sales at Canfor. “We view that as a huge opportunity over the next five years.” Forbes tells us that the Chinese government is pouring money into interior infrastructure, which bodes well for B.C. “Yes, there is Russian lumber, but it is coming a long way to get to central China,” adds Guthrie.

Speaking of Russia, an explosive report here at NPR leads us to an undercover investigation some might find worthy of 3-D glasses in an IMAX Theatre one day (see video below). With long term projections of scarcity for wood fibre in mind, the growing frequency of these disturbing stories surrounding exploitation of the world forest is apparent.

National Forest Week

It’s a week to celebrate. September 22nd to 28th is National Forest WeekPerhaps we’ll even take a walk in the woods. A celebration of National Forest Week acknowledges the natural beauty of our forests while underscoring  the importance of managing the sustainability of a resource that supports a way of life.

In today’s Vancouver Sun, the six-part Journey of a Log series concludes with reference to the nuances of lumber markets. The series included this report on high-tech equipment such as x-ray scanners which now provide opportunity to examine the inside of the log to facilitate the process of maximizing recovery and value. In another column here, Don Kayne, President and CEO of Canfor, elaborates on significant developments the industry has achieved in maximizing the use of every tree – while reducing the carbon footprint by using wood residuals to fuel operations and provide surplus energy to the power grid. In a year that Canfor celebrates its 75th anniversary, the need for bringing a holistic approach into industry discussions recognizes that further integration – “from forest ecosystems to harvesting, to sawmilling, pulp, paper, engineered wood, and energy” is vital.

Thanks to my uncle Stan Harder for the lovely images below, taken during a walk in the woods this week in Abbotsford, B.C.

Woods-manliness

I guess it’s true that I was born to be a lumberman. Some have even asked if I was named after Paul Bunyan, which suggests an alignment more closely tied to a lumberjack. And as if anyone needed proof, now comes scientific confirmation that there’s a certain manliness tied to being a lumberjack. Time reports here that researchers at the University of California have discovered that chopping wood increases testosterone production by over 40%. In fact the results indicated a 46.8% increase in testosterone levels after cutting wood, “a full 17% higher than the testosterone bump caused by playing soccer.” Evidently testosterone not only increases your desire and ability (to chop trees), it also helps increase lean muscle mass and bone density, and can help ward off conditions like depression and osteoporosis.

Of course none of this discovery minimizes the pain I’ve endured with a badly sprained ankle as result of a soccer mishap last week – meaning a suddenly wide open field at the 26th Annual BCWLA Golf Tourney this afternoon – and bringing into serious doubt any aspirations for an eventual call-up to the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps.

“I got into the woods industry ‘cause I heard good things come in trees.”

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An early mill visit to Stuart Lake Lumber, with brother Matt (left) and my dad Ernie

Peculiarities

WhatWood is “the only english-language weekly journal in Russia that writes about the forest industry in Russia and CIS countries” according to their website here. Their post today entitled Wood Pricing Peculiarities in Russia and Finland is telling, indicative of the impact global supply factors have on domestic lumber prices today.

Can’t take it home with you..

Thoughts of taking your work home with you in forest-related industry is not always possible. In Prince George, as example, by-laws that don’t allow you to store, repair, or even wash your logging truck on your residential-zoned home property will be tested in Supreme Court (see story here).

In these days of apparent oversupply – in some cases overbought inventory positions – it  might represent a note of caution for any traders looking to pile up those tubafors on the home front lawn in hopes that brighter demand on the horizon will afford opportunity a bit later in the building season to less painfully dispose of overbought positions.

Logging Indicators – China

It’s no secret log exports around the world have been surging primarily due to demand in Asia. Now the data is in. China’s log imports were up a whopping 45.6% last month compared to January 2012. China imported 3,390,000 m3 of logs in January at an average price of $194 per m3. In January 2012, log imports were 2,390,000 m3.
China’s lumber imports were also up significantly YOY last month. China imported 1,750,000 m3 of lumber in January, a 54.9% increase over January 2012 (1,130,000 m3). The average cost of lumber was $275 per m3.

Source: CIBC World Markets

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Liberal License?

Back in October, Forests Minister Steve Thomson stated “Now that the mountain pine beetle infestation has mostly run its course, it is the right time to update our forest inventory and reforestation plans” (source). Just a month later however, he reportedly admitted “there could be a snag” regarding that commitment (see Taking Inventory). Other elements of the provincial government’s action plan to find more timber are reportedly moving forward more quickly. Over the weekend, concerns were expressed over a new bill involving the conversion of volume-based licences to area based licences. Describing the bill as “disturbing”, resource-policy analyst Ben Parfitt explains how it would “fundamentally alter the course of forestry in B.C.” His politically-charged guest post at The Province is gaining wide circulation on social media sites.

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Hot Fibre

Further to an earlier post regarding the undermining of Liberia’s sustainable forestry strategies here, it’s reported that the president has now issued a temporary moratorium on Private Use Permits (PUPs), the source of loopholes. The moratorium “applies to all logging activities of any person, whether natural or juridical, who holds a PUP and operates in Liberia under any other logging.”

Meanwhile, according to some reports out of India (see here and here), concerns have been raised over alleged “gargantuan” land scams through the rampant abuse of a law intended to reverse fragmentation of agricultural land. As a result, well-connected private players have allegedly gained possession of vast tracts of common hilly land and forest. For some perspective, sources suggest after usurping all the land on property once worth $100K for example, that same property might now be worth $60 million.

Closer to home, The Vancouver Sun reports on our own struggles to complete the Great Bear Rainforest conservation plan, in working to achieve the twin goals of forest conservation and sustainable levels of logging. “‘Something’s got to give,’ said spokeswoman Valerie Langer. ‘What is at stake is whether we have sustainable levels of logging in the Great Bear Rainforest or not. The challenge to do that is that industry has to figure out how to maintain a viable business on a lot less wood.'”

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