This recent article in the Times of India caught my attention. That’s not surprising given my interest in log markets and prices.
The Indian Government has tight controls over the harvesting and sale of logs. These logs were Government owned. The Government retained the rights to the trees when the land was subdivided and sold.
The various State forest agencies in India conduct regular log auctions with the objective of improving market transparency, reducing corruption, and maximising the value adding for its forest products.
That’s right! Unlike here in Australia, the Government of India is not interested in subsidising sawmillers, boat builders and craftspeople.
East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) is a high value timber, and these numbers certainly confirm that.
Species: East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)
Log Class: I
Girth (cm): 246
Diameter (cm): 78
Length (m): 3.1
Volume (m3): 1.49
Unit price ($AUD): $14,400
Total price ($AUD): $21,500
No comment is made about the wood grain of the log, whether it was straight or feature grain.
I’ve converted the Indian prices to Australian dollar prices.
The log was purchased by Gemwood a company that amongst other products specialises in supplying the international tonewood market.
I wonder what impact such transparent competitive log prices have on the planting of trees in India? Do Indian farmers really plant rosewood trees knowing that in 100 years time someone will make money harvesting the trees? Do they appreciate that the rosewood trees they harvest today are due to the far-sighted benevolence of people 100 years ago?
In my 40 years as a forester I’ve never seen a newspaper article like this in Australia. That is because the forest industry in Australia believes that log prices and competitive transparent markets have no part to play in the industry’s future.
Across the Tasman Sea the very successful New Zealand forest industry has the opposite viewpoint.
Will we ever see prices like these for Australian logs?
And if we did would it have any impact on the tree-planting behaviour of our farming community?
When will Australia get a real forest industry?
PS. Just discovered this earlier news article about the harvesting of these rosewood trees. Certainly makes for an interesting story.