IST Tender Results 2017-18

It’s time for my annual summary of Island Specialty Timbers (IST) log tender results.

http://www.islandspecialtytimbers.com.au/

This is the only competitive market forest log price data publically available anywhere in Australia.

General

During the year Island Specialty Timbers conducted 7 tenders putting a total of 154 cubic metres of special species logs, craftwood and sawn wood to tender.

Total sold volume was 99.8 cubic metres (65%).

Total tender revenue was $90,900.

201718ISTpricechart

The above chart shows the log volumes and log prices paid per tender. Craftwood and sawn wood are not included in this chart.

The large volume of unsold logs at the April 2018 tender was mostly due to a large parcel of Silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) logs.

201718ISTlogsizechart

The above chart shows the average volume of logs sold at tender by IST. For some context to this chart, the target plantation blackwood log is 1.5 cubic metres in volume (DBH 60 cm pruned to 6 metres). So it can be seen most of the IST logs sold at tender are small to very small in size.

The highlights for the year were a) a tiny black heart sassafras log (1.1m length, 30 cm small end diameter, 0.07 cubic metres volume) that sold for $3,800 per cubic metre. Indeed at this August 2017 tender 5 small BH sassafras logs totalling 0.54 cubic metres sold for a total of $2,025; and b) a very large huon pine log (4.3 cubic metres) sold for a total $4,623.

Two species attracted strong demand and high prices during the year, these being black heart sassafras (BHS) and huon pine, with average log prices well over $1,000 per cubic metre. BHS and huon pine made up 21% and 13% respectively of the sold volume. Blackwood and feature eucalypt/tas oak were the other major sellers at 18% and 23% of sold volume.

In fact 2 tear-drop grain tas oak logs sold for over $1,700 per cubic metre, an extraordinary price for a wood that the market generally regards as a cheap commodity.

Celery top pine sold for an average $580 per cubic metre (3.7 cubic metres total sold).

Silver wattle and blackwood made up 76% and 15% respectively of the unsold volume for the year.

So what can we say with three years of IST tender results in the chart?

Answer: Not much!

There is no apparent trend in price over the last 3 years. Sure the volumes are small, the market is restricted and the quality of produce is highly variable.

What can be said is that even given these limitations the market will pay very good prices for quality wood when it wants to, with maximum prices averaging $3,000 per cubic metre, even for tiny logs!

These tendered log volumes represent less than 1% of the special timbers annual harvest, and a mere 0.01% of the wood harvested annually from public native forest in Tasmania. The rest is sold at Government (non-market) prices on long term, perpetual sales contracts.

According to Forestry Tasmania’s Annual Report in 2016/17 IST sold a total of 829 cubic metres of product [tender and direct sales]. The annual report does not give separate accounts for IST so their income and costs are unknown.

Blackwood

Log8 102017a

In general the IST tender results provide little information that is useful to the marketplace with the exception of blackwood. Tasmanian blackwood is the only Tasmanian “special species” that has the potential to be grown commercially; the other species being too slow growing.

Sixteen blackwood logs (23.5 cubic metres) were put to tender in 2017-18 of which 10 were sold (16.3 cubic metres) for a total of $12,210.

Five of the sold logs (7.6 cubic metres), described as having figured grain, sold for a total of $7,460. These logs averaged 5.2 metres length, 57 cm small end diameter and 1.5 cubic metres volume.

The 5 plain grain logs (8.7 cubic metres) sold for a total of $4,754, an average price of $545 per cubic metre. These five logs averaged 6.0 metres in length, 54 cm small end diameter and 1.7 cubic metres volume. In other words these were good size, quality logs equivalent to what can be grown in a well managed blackwood plantation, which would produce approx. 300 cubic metres of high quality sawlog per hectare at harvest.

This is a very good price and a substantial increase on the last three years.

ISTBWDchart1718

The stand out blackwood results for the year were a) $1,300 per cubic metre for a 1.76 cubic metre log containing tear-drop figured grain, and b) $2,467 total price for a very large (2.53 cubic metre) figured log.

The unsold blackwood logs consisted of a) one huge figured grain log measuring 5.7m length 75 cm small end diametre and 3.4 cubic metre volume, and b) 5 plain grain logs averaging 4.3 metres length, 46 cm small end diameter and 0.8 cubic metres volume.

Remember these are tiny volumes in a small market (southern Tasmania). Whether they represent the broader blackwood market is unknown.

Remember these prices are “mill door” equivalent prices with harvesting and transport costs already “included”. They are not stumpage prices.

Also remember that Sustainable Timbers Tasmania/IST is a taxpayer funded community service organisation bringing these timbers to market from Tasmania’s public native oldgrowth and rainforests:

Tasmanian regional forest agreement delivers $1.3bn losses in ‘giant fraud’ on taxpayers

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2012 Martin Custom Shop 000 Tasmanian Blackwood

MartinCS000TBa

https://reverb.com/item/13292794-2012-martin-custom-shop-000-tasmanian-blackwood

Just LOOK at the fiddleback Tasmanian blackwood on this one-off CF Martin guitar!

https://www.martinguitar.com/

It’s currently for sale on Reverb from Brothers Music Shop in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, USA.

Price is $AU5,900.

Carpathian spruce top, 14 frets, Waverley tuners, herringbone binding and the popular Martin 000 size. What’s not to like?

The detailing is equivalent to a 28 series Martin 000.

Very nice!

MartinCS000TBb

 

Maton Guitars Tonewood Guide

MatonTonewoods

Maton Guitars of Melbourne, Australia has released a stunning new brochure on tonewoods.

https://maton.com.au/timbers

But does the marketing work?

Is it the message for the 21st century?

Whilst we acknowledge and have a deep respect for traditional tonewoods, we are also excited by the potential we have discovered in non-traditional (alternative) woods.

The musical instrument making community is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of availability of some of their favorite traditional tonewoods. … it would be environmentally irresponsible to keep utilising these timbers without looking for alternatives.

We are fortunate enough to have the support of many of Australia’s most knowledgeable and skilled timber gatherers and continue to try new species….

This last statement completely bowls me over!

Maton still don’t get it do they?

Tonewood is about hunting and gathering??? WTF!!

I thought we had left those days behind. I thought this was the 21st century.

If you want tonewood for the future you need to plant, grow and harvest trees. It is not about hunting and gathering! Those forests have gone!

In the 21st century the future of tonewoods is about THE GROWER – who manages the forest, who plants the trees!

To their credit Maton devotes a beautiful two page spread to blackwood. But the idea that we should be actively growing blackwood for tonewood production still hasn’t entered Maton’s conscience.

MatonTonewoodsBWD

In all 15 tonewoods are described, but very little about where the wood comes from, who grows it or whether is it sustainable. Once upon a time I would have mentioned certification (PEFC/FSC) but my faith in forest certification is gone.

In today’s market it’s not enough to just say “it’s not rosewood” or “it’s alternative”.

The whole point of the “alternative tonewoods” story is not just to demonstrate the woods have good acoustic and aesthetic properties, but that they come from ethical, sustainable, profitable (for the grower) sources.

Maton needs to demonstrate commitment not just to using alternative tonewoods, but to supporting those who grow these quality timbers.

“Gathering” isn’t good enough.

Maton Guitars was a pioneer in the use of alternative tonewoods long before they became important.

It’s now time for Maton to take the next step in their commitment.

Unfortunately this glossy brochure just doesn’t do it!

PS. In their defense most other guitar makers are on the same page as Maton.

 

Another blackwood timber price list

Here’s a blackwood timber price list for a timber retailer in Tasmania.

This sawmiller/retailer specialises in Tasmanian “specialty timbers”.

These timbers obviously come from Tasmanian public native forest, which as everyone should know by now, comes to market at great cost to Tasmanian taxpayers and the plundering of the last of our oldgrowth and rainforest.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/tasmanian-forest-agreement-delivers-13bn-losses-in-giant-on-taxpayers

These prices are for individually priced boards, kiln dried and dressed, select grade (ie. Knot-free plain grain).

I’ve sorted these boards by the wood volume per metre, which seems to provide the best (but by no means perfect) explanation for the variation in price. The other curiosity besides the odd pricing structure is the diverse range of dimensions.

Note the variation in price for the boards of the same dimension eg. 310 x 32mm.

Given that timber is sold in Australia just on a price and NOT price per m or price per cubic metre, most customers would not spot this fraudulent behaviour.

Buyer beware!

ZXSJT

That this sawmiller is getting away with selling select grade blackwood for $8,000 per cubic metre should get some tongues wagging (I hope!).

The fact that getting this timber to market costs Tasmanian taxpayers is the criminal aspect of all this. Welcome to the Tasmanian forest industry!

Taylor 358e LTD

Taylor358eLTD

I haven’t done a guitar feature for ages so here we have the latest from Taylor Guitars featuring farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood courtesy of Tasmanian Tonewoods.

I wonder who were the lucky Tasmanian farmers who grew this premium product?

https://tasmaniantonewoods.com

This is a limited edition Grand Orchestra 12 string model in the 300 series.

This guitar was introduced at the 2018 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California.

It’s so new it isn’t even featured on Taylor’s website yet.

https://www.taylorguitars.com

In 2016 Taylor Guitars introduced Tasmanian blackwood into their regular production in the 300 series, becoming the first major guitar company to do so. The 300 series is the entry level series featuring all solid wood bodies.

To date the 300 series has not included an Orchestra Model in the line up. I guess this is Taylor testing the market to see if there is demand for a large body 12 string model in this price range. Currently 12 string Orchestra Models are only available in the 400 and 800 series.

Here’s a great review of the guitar from Alamo Music:

If you are after a big guitar with a BIG sound this is your axe!

Enjoy!

PS. I do like that shaded edge-burst on the blackwood back and sides. Good one Mr Taylor!

New Zealand Cypress Market Report

And one VERY switched on sawmiller!!

Macdirect

This has little to do with farm grown Tasmanian blackwood, but in terms of where I wish the forest industry in Tasmania was right now, this is a fantastic example. In fact I would rate this little piece as one of the best things I’ve read in my 40 year career as a forester:

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/specialty-timber-market/headlines/member-profile—macdirect/

It’s a shame it’s hidden away in a corner of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) website so that very few people will ever read it.

I suspect Murray Grant, Director/Owner of MacDirect Ltd., didn’t set out to write a cypress market report. But that is exactly what this is. This “member profile” is jam packed with lots of useful information for existing and potential cypress growers.

Most Tasmanians would only know macrocarpa cypress as large scraggly farm windbreak trees. Only a handful of Tasmanians know that this tree is fast growing and produces a high value, high quality, durable timber. New Zealand farmers have been growing it in commercial plantations for 40 years. There are only a handful of small cypress plantations in Tasmania.

MacDirect Ltd is NZ’s number 1 Building Grade Macrocarpa supplier.

https://www.macdirect.co.nz/

To me the thing that makes Murray Grant unique is that he’s not just thinking about how to improve his sawmills profitability; he’s not just thinking about the logs that will be coming into his sawmill tomorrow or next week.

He’s thinking about the logs that will be harvested in 10, 20 and 30 years time!!

He’s thinking about the trees that need to be planted tomorrow!!

The major priority of EVERY sawmiller is NOT to produce profitable sawn timber! That’s the easy part of the business!!

Given that timber takes 30+ years to grow, the major priority of every sawmiller is to ensure that farmers are growing more (profitable) trees for wood production to meet market demand.

Sawing up logs is the easy part!!!

And Murray Grant knows this when he says:

We would love to hear from any farm foresters who are keen to work closely with us to grow plantations into the future, get our perspective on silviculture for the marketplace and/or look at log price and harvesting.

Murray Grant knows the critical part that sawmillers (and the market generally) play in ensuring their own future.

Murray Grant is a hero!

He needs a medal!!

 

 

Bunnings Timber Price List Update

Bunnings

It’s been almost 2 years since I last reviewed Bunnings timber prices.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/07/01/bunnings-timber-price-lists/

Bunnings timber prices (per linear metre) are readily available on their web page.

https://www.bunnings.com.au/our-range/building-hardware/timber/dressed-timber/hardwood

From these I have created the following chart showing the current retail price for Tasmanian Oak Select Grade Dressed All Round (DAR), together with two previous price points.

Prices are shown per linear and cubic metre.

BunningsTasOak3

The retail price for tas oak hasn’t increased that much over the last 2 years. This is curious given there is supposed to be a timber shortage due to the building boom. Obviously the building boom is doing nothing for the fortunes of public native forestry.

Current retail prices range from $5,850 to $8,900 per cubic metre.

These prices do not reflect the actual cost of growing the wood and managing our public native forests as this recent article in The Guardian newspaper makes perfectly clear:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/tasmanian-forest-agreement-delivers-13bn-losses-in-giant-on-taxpayers

Almost all Tasmanian oak comes from the harvesting of Tasmanian public native forests.

Bringing Tas oak to market comes at the expense of Tasmanian schools and hospitals, roads and public housing; never mind the 35 years of bitter community conflict.

Australia will never have a real forest industry whilst the market continues to support uneconomical public native forestry.

So where does that leave Bunnings?

Bunnings seems to be a pretty good company and corporate citizen. They have some good policies:

https://www.bunnings.com.au/about-us/our-actions/bunnings-and-timber

Our actions

We pursue sustainability within our operations by striving to make them socially responsible, environmentally aware and economically viable.

Bunnings has a great Responsible Timber Sourcing Policy and is obviously proactive in helping protect the world’s forests:

We are confident that more than 99 per cent of timber products are confirmed as originating from low-risk sources including plantation, verified legal, or certified responsibly sourced forests. Within that, more than 85 per cent of our total timber products are sourced from independently certified forests or sourced with demonstrated progress towards achieving independent certification, such as that provided by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

We continue to seek advice from Greenpeace and WWF on our procurement and we remain grateful for their ongoing support.

We are proud that our long term efforts and commitment to timber procurement has provided customers and team members with the knowledge that our timber is responsibly sourced.

Bunnings is Australia’s leading retailer of Tasmanian oak timber, legally sourced from public native forests in Tasmania, and certified under the Australian Forestry Standard/PEFC, but not under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

I think it is time for Bunnings to live up to its policies and stop plundering Tasmania’s forests and Tasmanian taxpayers.

It is time for Bunnings to stop selling Tasmanian oak.

Public native forestry in Tasmania is not profitable or sustainable. Never has been and never will be.

Bunnings in New Zealand does not sell any dressed hardwood timber at all. None.

I can’t see why Bunnings Australia can’t do the same.

Come on Bunnings!

Live up to your policies!