Salvage Timber Markets and their Destructive Impact on the Forest Industry

If we had a real forest industry in Australia and properly functioning timber markets then salvage timber would be just another option in the marketplace. But neither of these conditions applies.

Australia does NOT have a real forest industry NOR does it have proper functioning timber markets.

So when I go to buy macrocarpa cypress timber for a project and pay a price that is ridiculously cheap I realise that, as a consumer, I am helping to destroy the forest industry that I am so passionate about.

The chart below shows the price list for green macrocarpa from the retailer I went to.

The chart shows that regardless what size timber you buy, you are paying the same very low price by volume.

This is salvage macrocarpa from old farm trees around Tasmania. The quality of the salvage timber is variable. But good quality macrocarpa is a premium timber.

Macrocarpa

Cypress is also an ideal farm forestry tree as New Zealand farmers are well aware. It is quick growing, easy to grow on a wide range of sites, and produces a premium timber.

https://www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/species/cypress/

But I know of only 4 farmers in Tasmania who are growing macrocarpa in small plantations.

This is despite the fact that the timber is in high demand.

So when sawmillers and log traders buy old farm trees and pay next-to-nothing for them, and timber retailers sell the timber for bargain prices, who gets the message that demand and prices are high? What farmers are going to invest in growing this premium timber when the marketplace fails as it clearly is?

If I had to pay the real (replacement) cost of growing this wood, plus a premium for the fact that I am buying a premium product, I would expect to pay MUCH MORE than $2,780 per cubic metre.

Never mind that the price list shows no price premium for large sizes as there should be.

If it was Tasmanian oak I’d be paying over $10,000 per cubic metre for my pieces of timber!!

This is a typical salvage timber price list.

The price list is designed to reflect the fact that no one is deliberately growing this wood in Tasmania.

In other words the price list is designed to prevent investment in tree growing.

Tasmania could have a thriving, valuable macrocarpa industry, but it chooses not too; as if Tasmania has a super abundance of commercial opportunities from which to choose.

Sawmillers and timber merchants traditionally take no responsibility for their own future. It is someone else’s job to encourage and support tree growers.

Would any of my New Zealand readers like to share their local price of macrocarpa/cypress timber?

Within Australia I would include public native forestry within this same “salvage” category since the market price for public native forest timbers does not reflect the cost of growing the wood.

It is the responsibility of the marketplace to support and encourage tree growing otherwise there will be no timber in the future.

How do we fix timber markets in Australia so they support commercial tree growing?

How do we stop the salvage timber market from undermining the forest industry?

When will Australia get a real forest industry?

One response to “Salvage Timber Markets and their Destructive Impact on the Forest Industry

  1. We will not get a real forest industry until we stop selling our precious timbers to people who are not qualified or capable to use it.
    Our hardwoods have not been valued in a country which is obsessed with lowest prices and high turn over of imported manufactured rubbish.
    After 43 years in the building industry I have witnessed tons of our hardwood being wasted by unqualified owner builders and untrained renovators.
    I fear it is too late to save our forests, we have so few trees available to our saw I
    I am sorry but I believe the salvage industry is our only option, it is the only way you can buy long lengths of solid section material.
    Regards John Hill

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