Category Archives: Markets

Taylor Guitars says goodbye!

Eleven years ago when I started this blackwood cooperative dream I hoped that the international tonewood market would play a significant role in the resurrection of the shrinking Tasmanian blackwood industry, and particularly the American tonewood market. In the mid-2000s CF Martin and Taylor Guitars, two of America’s biggest guitar makers, had both started using Tasmanian blackwood on a limited basis, with Taylor bringing it online in 2016 in their 300 series.

Unfortunately CF Martin’s strategy with blackwood failed in the marketplace, and Taylor Guitars have now taken a different road.

No doubt the international profile of Tasmanian blackwood as a premium tonewood has expanded enormously over the last 10 years, thanks largely to the support of Taylor Guitars.

https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/features/woods/body-woods/tasmanian-blackwood

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/category/taylor-guitars/

I had hoped that Taylor Guitars would play a more active role in Tasmania as they are doing in the Cameroon. For many years Taylor Guitars were singing blackwoods praises.

Alas no!

With Taylor Guitars taking on their Urban Wood initiative, and with Acacia melanoxylon being a common planted tree in California, Taylor Guitars are now sourcing their blackwood locally, as announced in the latest Wood & Steel vol. 102 magazine.

Many Taylor guitars made with blackwood have featured blackwood from Australia, but we’ve mostly ceased using wood from there and have been using the same species planted here in California, which comes out of urban landscapes as those trees die or become a danger. Yes, even though we don’t market it like we do Urban Ash, many of our blackwood guitars are now from an urban landscape; in fact, most of them are now. Here, people call them black acacia, and they’re called Tasmanian blackwood or Australian blackwood when they come from Down Under.

I can understand why Taylor has chosen to pursue their Urban Wood initiative. It makes enormous sense from many business and environmental points of view.

https://fb.watch/bisYsyb-k8/

But it leaves Tasmania with yet another missed opportunity.

The forest industry in Tasmania is so conflicted, politicised and toxic it is virtually impossible to attract overseas investor interest. The risks here are just too great. Buyers come here to plunder not to plant!

So we must say goodbye to Taylor Guitars and thank them for their support over the last 18 years.

Creating a functional wood market in Australia

Farm grown blackwood timber at Ceres Fair Wood, Melbourne. $10,000 per cubic metre. Ceres Fair Wood is one of the few businesses in Australia that cares about the future of quality wood.

The Past/Present

For thousands of years humans have been using wood for all sorts of reasons – to hunt, cook, stay warm, build shelter and wage war. And for all that time we have had natural forests to plunder. Whatever wood we could find we used, mostly with plenty of contempt and waste.

But the days of plundering natural forests are just about over.

One of the problems this history has created is dysfunctional wood markets.

Cheap plentiful wood from natural forests has meant no one has ever taken responsibility for the future. Cutting down and sawing up trees is simple. Getting trees planted and managed for the future is the real challenge.

There are thousands of businesses in Australia that rely on wood (harvesting, transport, milling, retail, manufacture, craft, music, art, etc.), and 99.99% of them take no interest or responsibility in the future supply of wood.

There is no relationship in the market between using and consuming wood and a tree being planted and managed.

Third party certification schemes such as Responsible Wood/PEFC and FSC are not building the forest industry and growing more wood for the future. Their goal is to save and better manage existing natural forests, not to grow more new wood resources.

The fact that the forest industry in Australia has never established any commercial credibility hasn’t helped the situation.

There must be a credible, transparent relationship between the price of wood and the cost of planting, growing and managing trees; and that relationship must encourage and support more tree planting to meet future demand.

My focus here is especially the premium solid wood market.

Until we build proper functioning wood markets in Australia most of these Australian businesses will disappear. Some will switch to imported wood when public native welfare forestry is shut down, but many will close. All for the want of a proper functioning wood market.

The Future

There are plenty of challenges that need to be addressed in order to build proper functioning wood markets but they are not insurmountable.

  1. Possibly the first and greatest challenge is market (and consumer) recognition and responsibility.

Proper functioning wood markets in Australia must be driven by the market and consumers.

Recent comments in the media by furniture makers and builders in Western Australia (in response to the shutting down of public native forestry) do not provide encouragement. Can you believe they would rather import timber from Indonesia than support local farm forestry?

How the thousands of wood-dependent businesses in Australia will come together to coordinate and plan their future is part of this challenge. Most of these businesses are too small to achieve much by themselves. The Australian Furniture Association could take on this role for furniture makers. Builders, cabinet makers and retailers could possibly join the AFA in this.

https://australianfurniture.org.au/

Is the AFA up to the challenge?

2. The second challenge is getting the farming community on board to plant, grow and manage the trees that the market wants.

I personally think this second challenge is by far the easier of the two.

Once farmers see the market change to being responsible and supportive they will quickly get on board.

There will need to be some serious talking and building trust, and careful management of risk.

Unlike the past where the market could pick and choose from a wide variety of natural forest woods, the market must now decide on which species it wishes to promote and support in farm forestry. Species must be fast growing and command sufficient market price to allow farmers to grow them commercially. Given we are talking 30+ years between investment/planting and harvest/revenue/profit, this will require careful consideration, coordination and planning.

The idea that farmers just randomly plant hundreds of different tree species in the hope of finding a buyer in the future just wont work. Farm forestry for the growing of high quality premium solid wood will require coordination and planning, driven by the market.

This is where organisations like the AFA must play a central role.

Final some discussion about markets.

Will there still be demand for premium quality solid wood in 30+ years time?

Certainly over my 40+ year career as a forester I have seen premium quality solid wood go from a being a common cheap product to a scarce expensive product, with all indications leading to its eventual disappearance from the Australian market entirely.

I think this is primarily a supply issue, rather than one of demand.

I see sufficient evidence that the market is prepared to pay very high prices for quality solid wood.

The problem is that in a dysfunctional wood market, these price/demand signals don’t trigger a supply response as they should. If we had a strong farm forestry culture in Australia and proper functioning wood markets, these price/demand signals would be making front page news. That is where we need to get too!

So dear reader, what do you think?

Comments and ideas welcome.

If not native jarrah, where does WA get its hardwood?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-29/jarrah-price-spike-spurs-indonesian-hardwood-imports/100575880

This is the conversation we should have been having 50 years ago when the forestry wars began!

These are the important questions that will determine the future of the forest industry in Australia.

The end of Public Native Welfare Forestry in Australia has been coming for decades. But so many people dependent on it have chosen to ignore this fact.

Most furniture makers and builders just expect quality timber to be in the marketplace ready to buy. They have no interest in securing their own future.

How do furniture makers support farm forestry? Will furniture makers and builders support farm forestry??

New Zealand farmers have been happily growing quality timbers including lots of different eucalypt species, and blackwood, for decades. Why can’t Australian farmers?

Why don’t Australian furniture makers support New Zealand farmers and buy New Zealand grown quality wood? New Zealand farmers would love to sell their quality wood to Australian furniture makers.

If New Zealand wants timber, New Zealand farmers grow it!!

Why can’t Australian farmers grow timber for Australia??

Australia has never had a proper forest industry. Nor has it ever had proper functioning wood markets.

It has all been welfare, ideological and political!!

Not an ounce of commercial reality anywhere!!

Imagine if Australian furniture makers got behind and supported farm forestry in Australia. Just imagine the huge transformation that would initiate!!

The argument that you can’t make quality furniture out of plantation timber is of course utter bullshit. It is part of the bullshit the forest industry says to justify plundering taxpayers and our public native forests.

“We’ve never been able to grow jarrah or karri well in plantations,” Mr de Fégely said.

That is true for Jarrah, but not true for Karri. Karri is a very fast growing eucalypt species. It has been grown in plantations in South Africa for almost a century.

When it comes to defending public native welfare forestry, the forest industry will completely disparage farm forestry.

The final comments from forestry head Rob de Fégely are utterly stupid.

Growing trees for wood production is NOT welfare, it is business!!

Mr de Fégely wants to keep defending the welfare forestry model.

It’s time we gave welfare forestry the flick!!

It is time to support farm forestry in Australia!!

Open letter: FSC is no longer fit for purpose and must urgently reform

You MUST read this letter!!

This letter speaks for itself!

https://www.earthsight.org.uk/news/blog-open-letter-fsc-no-longer-fit-for-purpose-and-must-urgently-reform

It certainly confirms my own experience with and observation of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) over the last 30 years.

The logging industry has taken over the FSC and corrupted it!

The PEFC/Responsible Wood is even worse!!

As a means of saving the world’s forests third party certification has failed!

This article in The Guardian is also relevant:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jul/16/ethical-labels-not-fit-for-purpose-report-warns-consumers

All of this is not surprising!

Paying someone else to manage your integrity, when there is money involved, was always bound to fail.

So how DO we save the world’s forests if third party certification isn’t the answer?

Freeman Interview

Hi Graham,

Congratulations on winning the Tasmanian Tree Farmer of The Year 2021 Award.

It’s a prestigious award!

1. Firstly can you give my readers some background? How did you get into farming and into growing trees?

I was raised on my parents farm and for as long as I can remember I wanted to farm and own an area of land and bush. I got into growing trees for their aesthetics and the environmental benefits they provide.

Our farm (Judy, my wife and I) is broken up by a series of short steep drops running basically North to South and were covered in bracken fern and blackberry.  The prevailing winds are west/southwest so these banks seemed a percect place to provide erosion control and wind protection.  Providing shelter was our primary aim in planting trees.

2. What tree species are you growing and why? How much of your farm is dedicated to growing trees?

I wanted to grow a variety of species (probably too many) that I was interested in and thought may grow reasonably well in our climatic conditions.

Species include: Sequoia Sempervirens, Eucalyptus Regnans, Pinus Radiata, Cupressus Macrocarpa, Cupressus Lusitanica, Cupressocyparis Leylandii, Thuja Plicata, Psuedotsuga Menziesii, Chamaecyparis Lawsonia.

Approximately 14 hectares is plantation.  Native bush is predominantly backwood.

3. Do you enjoy growing trees?

Yes I enjoy growing trees and I find it very satisfying and fulfilling.

4. Can tree growing be a profitable addition to a farm enterprise in Tasmania?

Tree growing can be a profitable addition to a farming enterprise.  We have profitably harvested Blackwood (non plantation). Personally harvested and sold a small plantation of Radiata that was on the farm when purchased.  We have just completed a profitable thinning and on site milling of our oldest redwood plantation.

5. As a tree farmer how much support and interest do you get from the local forest industry and wood markets?

As growers of mainly small lots of specialty timbers I dont consider we fit the normal profile for local timber markets, however have had local interest in Redwoods, and can always sell Radiata.

6. How much do you know about wood markets, supply, demand and prices? Is this information readily available to you?

Finding a transparent comparison of prices can sometimes be a little difficult. There are established markets for Radiata, however there are no established markets for Redwoods.  C. Macrocarpa is attracting interest, however there is currently no transparent pricing for it.

7. As an award winning tree farmer do you think the market will now sit up and take notice and support and reward your efforts? In other words does the Award have any leverage in the marketplace?

I honestly do not know if the award will provide any leverage in the market place, however this should not be a negative.

8. Can you tell me where you think farm forestry will be in Tasmania in 20 years? Will it be a thriving profitable business or will it continue to struggle as it has for the past 50 years?

A very hard question!  I would love to see a time when farmers would plant a crop of trees as readily as a crop of potatoes.  I have no crystal ball but I think the reality is that it will continue to limp along.

I sincerely hope that the imperative for farming to achieve carbon neutrality may encourage farmers to store carbon.  Hopefully farmers may consider planting speciality timber trees such as blackwood and redwood etc., that can store carbon for the longer term.  The carbon credits for these plantations would be passed on with the sale of the farm and thus maybe help overcome the hesitancy of growing trees that require a longer time frame.

9. There are many issues holding farm forestry back in Tasmania. What do you think are the two most important of these issues?

Hard to limit it to two.

I think one is to provide clear and transparent pricing and encouragement from forestry companies so that farmers can be reasonably certain of achieving a satisfactory return for “locking up” part of their farm for a long period of time.

For the majority of farmers timber has to provide a return that at least gets close to equalling the return they may get for any other use they put their land too.

The other issues I see, especially for growers of longer term specialty species is how to encourage farmers to plant trees that personally they are unlikely to realise a monetary profit. Hopefully carbon neutrality may help.

10. Finally on a positive note, can you tell us about your best experience as a tree farmer.

Growing, felling and milling your own timber is extremely satisfying, however the most extreme experience is standing in a 40 year old plantation of Redwoods realising their beauty and knowing they were planted by us!

Kind regards

Graham and Judy

Thankyou Graham for your time, and may your tree-growing efforts not go unrewarded.

IST Tender Results 2020-21

Island Specialty Timbers (IST), the only source of competitive, transparent market blackwood log prices, conducted 10 log tenders during the year, making up for the shortfall last year due to the pandemic.

https://www.islandspecialtytimbers.com.au/

IST is a business enterprise of Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) which sources and retails raw material of Tasmanian specialty timbers from harvest or salvage operations conducted on State owned Permanent Timber Production Zone land (PTPZl).

You can read my previous annual tender summaries here:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/?s=tender

Blackwood Results

2021 was a champagne year for blackwood!

2021 was the year that plain-grain blackwood sawlog broke the $1,000 per cubic metre price barrier!

Prices for good quality plain grain blackwood sawlogs have been sitting above $800 per cubic metres for the last few years, as seen in the chart below, but this year they broke through the price ceiling.

Premium plain grain sawlogs are what can be grown in blackwood plantations.

Will this result encourage Sustainable Timbers Tasmania/IST to put more blackwood sawlogs to tender?

Will this result capture the attention and imagination of Tasmanian farmers?

This year IST put 10 blackwood logs to tender, a total of 11.9 cubic metres, or 4.4% of the total volume put to tender for the year.

One log was unsold at tender, as was a 2 cubic metre pack of sawn blackwood boards.

Two logs had feature grain and sold between $1,250 and $1,300 per cubic metre.

The other 7 logs were plain grain, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,100 per cubic metre. Lower prices were paid for smaller logs and logs with defects (spiral grain, scars, branch knots).

Higher prices were paid for large, good quality logs.

All up the 8.14 cubic metres of plain grain blackwood logs sold for $4,259.

The following chart shows the average size characteristics of sold plain grain blackwood logs. The target sawlog for a blackwood plantation has a volume of 1.5 cubic metres and a small end diameter (SED) of around 50 cm.

Remember these are tiny log volumes sold into the small southern Tasmanian market. They represent mill door prices not stumpages.

As usual IST has a policy of minimising the amount of blackwood logs it puts to tender, despite the fact that around 10,000 cubic metres of blackwood are harvested from public native forests in Tasmania each year, and sold at “Government prices”.

Imagine if IST put 10 cubic metres of blackwood sawlog at each tender, to attract mainland and maybe even overseas buyers.

Imagine if Government forest policy was about profitable tree growers and not sawmill welfare.

Imagine what that change would do for the forest industry and Tasmania!

These positive blackwood log price signals should be resulting in more blackwood plantations being established, helping to build the industry and make Tasmanian farmers more profitable.

One hectare of well managed blackwood plantation has the potential to produce approx 300 cubic metres of premium sawlog after 30 – 35 years. At $1,000 per cubic metre that equates to $300,000 per ha in todays market.

How many Tasmanian farms have difficult corners, steep slopes and weedy areas that could be more productive growing quality wood?

General Results

Overall IST put 272 cubic metres of specialty timbers to tender in 2020-21 of which 252 cubic metres sold for total revenue of $262,700.

Last year Sustainable Timbers Tasmania sold 7,921 cubic metres of specialty timbers, so these competitive tender sales represent a mere 3% of specialty timber sales from public native forests in Tasmania.

The following chart shows the volume and price summary for all log tenders back to 2015. The price spike in the January 2021 tender was due to this tender being an all Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) tender.

The tiny volumes and wide variability in species and quality of logs that IST put to tender makes assessing trends over time difficult.

The next chart shows the average volume of the sold logs. Here there is a clear trend of diminishing log size. If it wasn’t for the occasional large eucalypt log IST throws into the tender mix, this trend of diminishing log size would be even more pronounced.

The following 2 charts show the above data summarised by year:

2020-21 was significant for a) the major increase in volume of specialty timbers put to tender, and b) a record unit price set for a single log at IST.

The record unit price of $5,300 per cubic metre was for a Black heart sassafras log at the March 2021 tender. The log was only 2.5 metres long with a volume of only 0.16 cubic metres, so total price was only $850!!

The highest price paid for a single log was at the same March 2021 tender where another Black heart sassafras log of 1.3 cubic metres sold for $5,570.

The main focus of IST tenders is black heart sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) which can command very high prices for good logs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherosperma

However the tree is slow growing (500+ years to reach commercial size) and is restricted to rainforest and old growth eucalypt forest, so supplies of this species are dwindling.

Surprisingly the marketplace continues to support the plundering of Tasmania’s last ancient forests!

Five Year Review

Again it is important to recognise that this data represents tiny volumes sold into the small southern Tasmanian market. The results DO NOT represent the wider Tasmanian, Australian or international markets.

The results are also influenced by the fact that IST is NOT a commercial business. Like its parent Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, IST is NOT obliged to make a profit. These rare timber resources are brought to market at taxpayer expense.

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

Looking at the annual aggregate results of the IST tenders three trends are apparent:

  1. the maximum price paid for quality wood is increasing; and
  2. the volume unsold at tender is decreasing. Whether this is due to a) IST becoming better at excluding logs that will not sell, and/or b) increasing demand for quality wood, is unclear. The fact that both the average and minimum prices paid remain steady indicates better log selection rather than increasing demand. Certainly the quality of product put to tender by IST varies enormously.
  3. the average price paid for quality wood has not changed over the last 5 years, remaining at around $1,000 per cubic metre.

The 7-year trend for plain grain blackwood logs is less clear, but the volumes are microscopic!

In general the prices paid for plain grain blackwood logs have been good, with indications in the last few years of solid price increases.

Since blackwood is the only Tasmanian specialty timber species that can be grown in commercial plantations, this is good news!

Will the Government and the forest industry make use of this valuable positive market information?

Almost certainly not!

Going backwards!

There are many reasons why the forest industry in Australia is going backwards.

Here is just one small example:

PF Olsen is a forestry services company which started in New Zealand, but has also opened offices in Australia.

Here is their New Zealand website:

https://nz.pfolsen.com/market-info-news/

Notice the headings across the top of the page.

Now here is their Australian website:

https://au.pfolsen.com/

Notice the headings across the top of the page. How do they compare with the New Zealand website?

The Australian website contains nothing about Contractors & Suppliers nor about Market Information & News!

Why is that?

Are there no forestry markets in Australia?

Do tree growers in Australia not want access to uptodate market information?

Or is it because profitable tree growing is not the focus of the forest industry in Australia?

New Zealand has a real forest industry where the focus is on supporting tree growers to make sure they are as viable and profitable as possible. That way more farmers plant trees, the forest industry expands and has a successful future.

It is a successful simple industry model!

PF Olsen NZ is acutely aware of this and do their bit to ensure tree growers and the forest industry share a successful future.

Go to PF Olsen’s New Zealand website and check out their Market Info & News. It’s a great resource for NZ farmers!

Curiously PF Olsen Australia does not seem to share the same vision.

The focus of the forest industry in Australia has always been about supporting and subsidising domestic processors, at the expense of growers and the future of the industry.

Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Please post a comment…

PS. If anyone can find a single Australian forest industry website that provides uptodate market information I’d love to know. Thanks.

An invitation to join the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

HI Gordon,

I’ve been reading your newsletter. Have you thought about joining your group up to FSC?

I’m in the environment chamber and on the board. Happy to talk about it if you are interested.

Cheers

I recently received this invitation to join the Australian branch of the FSC.

I’m making my reply to this invitation public because I believe the public and the marketplace need to better understand what is happening within the forest industry.

Hi XXXX

Thanks for the invitation for the Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative to join the FSC.

Twenty years ago I had hopes that the advent of the FSC would see major reform within the Australian forest industry.

Today I have no such illusions!

The fact that Bunnings/Officeworks will help shut down public native welfare forestry next year is indirectly due to the FSC, but otherwise the industry and the wood marketplace are utterly moribund.

Harsh words I know, but after a 40 year career that is the only conclusion I can come too.

The FSCs standards for “economically viable” are a joke. No they are worse than a joke! They are completely offensive and destructive to the future of the industry:.  

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2019/05/13/fsc-supports-illegal-forestry-in-australia/

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/10/17/competitive-neutrality-in-forestry/

Because of this “Standard”, private forest growers have no hope. Because of this “Standard” my Group has no future. How can it when annual taxpayer subsidies to public native welfare forestry are fully supported by the FSC and PEFC? Private growers don’t get FSC/PEFC approved annual taxpayer subsidies!!

Growing trees for wood production is a commercial activity. It is not welfare!

Should I join the FSC to help drive change within the FSC?

If Greenpeace resigned because it could not achieve meaningful change within the FSC what chance would I have of doing so?

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/03/30/greenpeace-leaves-the-forest-stewardship-council-fsc/

Greenpeace is right! Third party certification without transparency is a waste of time. It becomes a form-filling, label-sticking exercise of little value.

So why would I join an organisation like the FSC that deliberately seeks to undermine private forest growers?

Taxpayer subsidised welfare forestry and profit-driven commercial forestry cannot coexist in the same marketplace.

It’s that simple!

The FSC supports welfare forestry and therefore undermines commercial forestry.

It’s that simple!

If the FSC wants to support and encourage farm forestry in Australia then it needs to change its assessment standards.

It’s that simple!

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Bradbury

Timber processor alarmed over ‘massive amount’ of softwood exported to China

A large truck carrying neatly piled wood logs enters a large yard with thousands of large wooden logs.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/softwood-resource-exported-to-china-amid-log-supply-insecurity/12617994

Here we are. Sawmillers who have spent generations being on the Government payroll are now complaining about having to exist in a global competitive market.

With the sale of Government pine plantations, the new plantation owners are free to sell their logs to whoever they like, including customers who are prepared to pay more than domestic customers/sawmillers.

Imagine that! Competition and free trade in the forest industry. Who would have guessed?

This is a classic forest industry sob story, about poor hard-done-by sawmillers who can’t compete in a global marketplace.

The softwood industry is no longer part of the Welfare Forestry System in Australia, except in Western Australia and New South Wales, where Governments have yet to privatise their plantation estates.

I just love the pity-me language:

Our forefathers planted the trees — they were planted with a plan to create jobs into the future. It wasn’t about growing wood for Asia.”

A classic example of Trees-as-Welfare, not Trees-as-Commerce. The idea of growing trees to make a profit is anathema to these poor folk.

These sawmillers are demanding welfare not trees!

They are unwittingly demanding the destruction of their very own businesses and industry.

Clearly the Green Triangle Forest Industry Hub (GTFIH) is not the cohesive single-minded group that their website wants us to believe:

http://gtfih.com.au/

Tensions between growers and processors are running high!

The GTFIH has a plan to plant 50,000 ha of new plantation over the next 10 years. That definitely won’t happen with stories like this in the media.

Who would want to plant trees knowing you cannot trade in an open competitive market? Nobody that’s who!!

Unfortunately the article does not talk about prices and markets, or any idea of the growers side of the story.

And as for an industry Code of Conduct, that would be the final nail in the coffin for the already struggling forest industry in Australia.

What other primary producers in Australia face a more hostile political environment than tree growers? I can’t think of any! Happy to have your comments!

Anyone growing trees for wood production in Australia, whether plantation or native forest, should be very worried right now. Your investment is about to be destroyed by your politicians.

What a total mess the industry is!!

A proposal to develop New Zealand’s alternative, specialty timbers industry

cropped-p26-nicholas-presentation-blackwood-2011m.jpg

https://fgr.nz/2020/07/14/survey-a-proposed-industry-association-for-alternative-specialty-timbers-and-small-scale-sawmillers/

This sounds exciting!

As usual the New Zealand forest industry is generations ahead of anything happening here in Australia.

This new proposal to establish a NZ Specialty Timbers Association is just brilliant.

Unlike specialty timbers in Tasmania, the industry in NZ has nothing to do with plundering public native forests, or endless, repetitive political games.

New Zealand’s specialty timbers are farm-grown, and include plantations and managed native forest.

A discussion paper about the proposal is available from the above website. It is only 5 pages and well worth reading.

One of the interesting aspects of the proposal is the key role which portable sawmillers will play in the Association; providing the vital link between the marketplace and the thousands of specialty timbers growers in New Zealand.

The current focus of the discussion paper is on the NZ domestic markets which is fine. There are plenty of opportunities locally. But there are a few specialty species (incl. Blackwood) for which available volumes are already in excess of domestic demand, so that export markets must be developed immediately.

Two aspects that I believe are vital for the new Association to consider:

  1. An Industry Plan is needed, with objective, measurable goals and regular reviews. Having thousands of farmers randomly planting thousands of different timber species with no vision or coordination, will not build a viable future. The marketplace needs to develop a select list of preferred species, so that viable marketable quantities of quality wood from these species are available to the market.
  2. Lots of marketplace support and feedback, from builders, architects, craftspeople, etc., needs to be generated so that farmers can have a sense of what they are doing and why. Currently the marketplace completely avoids thinking 10, 20, 30 years into the future when it comes to timber supply. This must change!!

I will follow this story as it develops over the coming months and years.

Congratulations New Zealand!

You have done it again!!