You are here: Home» Membership» NZFFA Member Blogs» Dean Satchell's blog» An export log market for "alternative" species?

An export log market for "alternative" species?

Saturday, November 11, 2017, Dean Satchell's blog

I had a call a few days back from a guy in Australia looking to source eucalypt logs. On further enquiry, he told me that he represented a big manufacturer in China that required hardwood in large volumes and if we had the resource they'd take it. Shiploads. He was particularly interested in Eucalyptus nitens and E. saligna, but I got the impression they'd take just about any eucalypt. Log specs down to 10cm diameter, he'd pay $10 more per tonne than local pulpwood prices. They're not chipping it either, he reckoned most of it would be peeled.

A few weeks earlier, I also had a call from Australia, this time someone who is exporting cypress logs to Asia. They'd run out of the local native cypress and the market has an insatiable appetite for more. He heard we grow cypress in New Zealand. I believe they use it for coffins, and pine is too "common" to be buried in... cypress being the timber of choice. He was happy to pay "well above" pine prices and would be prepared to take all I could find.

What is happening? I thought the reason we only grow radiata pine in New Zealand was because there are only markets for radiata pine...

Other species apparently with prime export log markets include poplar and redwood and believe me, the minimum log diameter is much less than what any local processor would take.

Now, if I were a real businessman I'd see an opportunity for myself and gather wood for export. But I'm not. My interests are in developing a sustainable local industry around growing and processing specialty timber species for the local market... and I just can't bring myself to put pecuniary interests ahead of that goal. I do acknowledge that having an export market is good for keeping local log buyers honest though, and if we can export what they don't want then all the better for the grower.

We've always been told not to grow "alternative species" unless you appreciate that there will not be a ready market for your logs. Because I don't actually have skin in the export game, I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone out there about what is really happening.

2 posts.

Post from Gordon Bradbury on November 14, 2017 at 9:31AM

Hi Dean,
I think about export markets a lot; both from the fact I constantly get enquiries from buyers but also from the point of view "how do we turn this market demand into farmer interest and getting trees planted?"
We have gone from the situation where trees are not worth the effort to grow, to demand is skyrocketing.
But there is little market transparency. No one in the market seems prepared to turn their "demand" into real support for farm forestry.
It seems to me that is what must happen if farm forestry is to take advantage of global wood demand. The market has to actively support farm forestry.
The odd phone call, email or SMS just isn't enough.
As the remaining forest industry here in Tasmania collapses, there is certainly opportunity to export NZ blackwood to fill the void in the Australian market. Other species too I reckon, especially eucalypts and macrocarpa.
Curiously I read a recent submission from a major Tasmanian sawmiller who want no blackwood logs to leave Tasmania. They want all private growers to be forced to sell to local processors. So it is very clear to me that the forest industry still faces serious challenges from its own ranks.
Profitable tree growing is the only basis of a successful forest industry. As soon as you manipulate and constrain the market you destroy the industry. Log exports are essential.
So how do we provide opportunities for the market to actively support farm forestry? I don't think the market fully appreciates what needs to happen to ensure future supplies of quality wood, and how it can help.
Gordon Bradbury Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

Post from William Hollis on November 20, 2017 at 1:30PM

Kiaora Dean,

Last year I was told of the Dryland Initiative which was to have an Eucalyptus Hardwood regime. Instead of planting pine at the Millinium Regime of 550 sph, planting Eucs with the new genetics at 2000 sph. The rotation is much shorter and that a lot of harvested woodlots were changing to this regime. A huge block on the East coast has planted a buffer of Cypress around their Pine plantation utilising their land. This is something that Foresters should consider. Also in the NESPF regulations that come into play next year where buffers have to be planted around plantations, plantings of Manuka/Kanuka (Native species) for the production of honey (earning from the buffer areas). Other countries are wanting a diversity of timber/products, so in the next planning these should be taken in consideration.

Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

Farm Forestry - Headlines

Article archive »