Last years Farm Forestry Timbers AGM was cancelled due to covid-19. This year our AGM will be held on 24th March at Te Papa Museum and Conference Centre, Wellington, from 5pm-6.15pm as part of NZFFA Conference 2021.
If you are a processor or sawmiller and can't make it then please contact me with anything you want raised at our AGM.
It's as though the last year has disappeared without a trace, with little to show and nothing to remember. The in-limbo status of the standard NZS 3602 Timber and wood-based products for use in buildings reflects this. It would be nice to report publication of the standard, but this has not occurred.
As an industry body representing producers of specialty timbers, I believe Farm Forestry Timbers Society can't do much with respect to developing markets for locally-grown timbers until the status of this key standard is sorted. We can only continue to wait, but should also be ready to advocate for natural durability and the use of naturally durable timbers in buildings under the building code. The key markets for our species include cladding, decking and appearance structural (e.g. exposed rafters and beams).
One of the most important roles we can perform is in educating building consent authorities (BCA's) on natural timbers and their code-compliance. This would need to go hand in hand with any marketing campaign promoting natural durability.
Meanwhile myself and Vaughan Kearns, who represents NZFFA on the Specialty Wood Products Partnership (SWP), continue to influence industry research. There are a number of research projects underway that are testing species for durability and strength and building code compliance, with the aim of opening new doors and applications for our specialty timbers. A sawmilling study of young cypress has provided some exciting results on grade recoveries and wood properties. Another study has explored a novel wide board engineered flooring product made from young eucalypt, with promising results.
What has become increasingly clear to me is that we mustn't get left behind by technological advances. Glulam has been produced in New Zealand for over 50 years, yet has become almost exclusively the domain of radiata pine. Thermally modified radiata pine has been produced in New Zealand for 20 years but apparently nobody has thought to use the technology on other species to improve durability, species like poplar along with sapwood for all our species. Now cross-laminated timber (CLT) is emerging as the new mass-timber product of excellence, again a product exclusive to radiata pine. Unless producers think beyond selling sawn timber and start thinking about how they can add value to their products, our specialty timber species will get left behind. The market for natural durability is ready and waiting, but unless we seize the day and work collectively on developing and selling products that the market wants, we risk irrelevance in a world where consumers want "natural" and the opportunity is to fill the void opening with the demise of plastic.
Farm Forestry Timbers Society
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