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Identifying processing opportunities for key specialty tree species; - processing options analysis using the WoodScape model

By Peter Hall, Rosie Sargent and Steve Riley, May 2019.

Download SWP-T073 (pdf)

Executive summary

The Specialty Wood Products Research Partnership wish to know where there are opportunities to develop processing of Douglas-fir, Cypress and Eucalyptus species (nitens and fastigata).

A previous report covers the long-term supply of these species at a regional level. Whilst there are substantial volumes available in some locations typically volumes are more modest (<10,000 m3 per annum) and show a decline in volume available over time. A summary of the long run volumes estimated to be available is presented.

Log and wood product prices for the three target species were identified from industry sources.

Product prices were worked back from retail prices to ex-mill prices. Conversion factors from logs to products were derived from industry sources to generate a weighted or blended ex-mill lumber price. Cypress logs and Eucalyptus logs were found to have lower conversions from logs to products than Douglas-fir.

The costs of drying these specialty wood products were calculated for conventional kilns, low temperature kilns, solar kilns and air drying with low temperature kiln finishing.

The log prices, ex-mill blended lumber prices and drying costs were then used in the WoodScape model to determine the financial performance of some wood processing opportunities; small scale sawmilling and OELTM.

The best performing sawmilling options were;

  • Cypress logs, particularly with a solar kiln and a small sawmill
  • Eucalyptus with a solar kiln, but only at lower log prices.

Making OELTM from cheaper lower grade Eucalyptus nitens logs is also viable

OELTM was only viable on cheaper logs, which will be in limited supply as they will only be 20 to 25% of the total log supply. This would limit its application on specialty tree species unless a larger mill was to run on a mix of species.

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