24 Jul 2020

Group hopes to bring speciality timbers out of the woodwork

2:41 pm on 24 July 2020

Plans are underway to create an industry group for people working in New Zealand's speciality timber industry.

Eucalyptus, a specialty timber grown in New Zealand

Eucalyptus, a speciality timber grown in New Zealand Photo: 123rf

Peter Berg is an executive member of the Farm Forestry Association and has been a long time advocate of high-value timber trees. He said at present many growers and small sawmillers work independently, so it's hard to get an efficient supply chain of quality timber for furniture and joinery in New Zealand.

He said New Zealand imports over one hundred million dollars worth of high quality joinery timber every year, with no recognition that there's good resources here already.

A working group made up of sawmillers and others working with speciality timbers are backing the concept of a national body, and potential members are being surveyed now for their likely support.

"One of the real issues is a lot of people have been planting a whole range of species for a long time, and they find when it comes to marketing their timber it's difficult to sell.

"At the other end of the spectrum you have a lot of people with boutique or specialised markets for some of this timber and they just can't get it on a regular basis, so they're looking for a sustained resource," Berg said.

The group believes an industry entity could provide leadership, strengthen links in the value chain, attract and train new entrants, upskill existing people and develop branding and collaborative markets that will increase the values and sales of speciality timbers, he said.

"There are already a lot (of people) looking around for something to grow. Some of the timber we're importing are priced ten times the price of radiata pine and more, so the returns are potentially very good for those that want to grow them, and those that want to saw them and market them properly," he said.

The survey will be completed in the middle of August and if support is widespread an organisation will be formed after that.

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