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Tasmanian Blackwood Growers

The Radical Sawmill #2


Some further thoughts on The Radical Sawmill and the Doyle Log Scaling Factor.

The American system of trading logs based on the Doyle Scaling factor means that every sale begins with the premise

this log is a liability, the grower must be penalised”,

instead of

this log is an opportunity, the grower must be encouraged to grow more quality logs”.


You would think under these negative conditions any serious forest grower would set up their own sawmill and do their own milling.

Why would a forest grower sell logs into such a punitive market?

Forest Grower and Sawmilling Cooperatives should be the order of the day in the USA.

For a forest industry looking to build its future the Doyle Log Scale is a very bad idea. It does nothing but send a negative message to the market.

Not that the forest products market in Australia is any better. We have our own unique set of punitive measures to discourage private tree growers. But at least we do trade logs based on the small end or mid diameters. Or even a total log volume estimate based on SED and LED. The log is traded as an opportunity not a liability.


The Sunrise Sawmill in Ashville, North Carolina is obviously a small business, with limited resources for marketing and promotion.

How much is it really thinking about the future of the forest industry in North Carolina?

The State of North Carolina encourages private forest owners to develop a “Woodland Management Plan”.

One of the objectives of these Plans is to improve the productivity and commercial value of the private forest through active management.

If I was a sawmiller thinking beyond my own needs to the future of the broader industry:

  1. I’d stop penalising the grower by using the Doyle Log Scaling Factor, and pay for the small end diameter total log volume. Consider each log an opportunity not a liability.
  2. I’d be offering a log price premium (10-15%) to private forest owners who had a Woodland Management Plan in place.
  3. I would also consider supporting and encouraging the development of forest grower cooperatives as a way of building the industry.
  4. I’d be looking to establish good long term relationships with the better forest growers. This means I would have more confidence in the quality of the logs from those growers and be able to offer them a better price. That’s a win-win situation.

In fact the more I think about this the more I realise that whilst the sawlog may be important for the sawmiller for today, this week or this month; what is ultimately more important is the forest grower. How important is this forest grower to the sawmiller and the broader industry? That is the ultimate question for the sawmiller!

Greater log price transparency is a great beginning to help build the forest industry, but I suspect that much more is needed from the forest industry. The New Zealand experience supports this view. A broad level of industry/market support and encouragement is needed for landowners/forest owners to consider investing time and money over such a long period to grow quality wood.

As for North Carolina, North Carolina is home to 18.6 million acres (7.5 million ha) of forestland, 85% (6.4 million ha) of which is privately owned.  Approximately 64% of these privately held lands are owned by non-industrial landowners.  Despite the enormous growth our state has witnessed, 60% of North Carolina is still covered by forests.

I wonder how many of these NC private forest owners have Woodland Management Plans?



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