Topic: Sustainable & Renewable
Investing in a Resource for the Future
As the credentials of timber as a renewable resource becomes more widely understood, the demand for timber is on the rise.
In Tasmania, increased supply won’t be coming from our native forests. The sustainable yield in our native forest resource is set, allowing for the production of high-quality forest products, and maintenance of one of the most extensive wilderness reserve areas per capita on the planet.
So, we must look to tree plantations as a supplement to our regenerated native forest resource.
Plantation grown hardwood log does not behave the same way as a native forest log. Plantation grown logs are eucalypts, but they are a different species and they have a lot more natural stresses than native forest timbers because they are fast grown.
This means that the timber fibres tend to split using conventional drying methods which cause holes or cavities to open up within the timber. For appearance products such as flooring and countertops, this is an unacceptable defect that makes the timber unviable for dressed timber products.
That is why the industry is investing heavily in research, in collaboration with the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW) to find new methods for drying plantation-grown hardwood.”
Plantation grown logs are also smaller in diameter than native logs, which will require an investment in new processing technology.
We can see the value in the investment because we believe we can find a way to utilise plantation-grown hardwood to create a Tasmanian Plantation Oak, grown and processed in Tasmania, that is suitable for high-value markets like fine furniture, joinery and veneers.
The industry is also investing in research to improve the characteristics of plantation timbers to be more suited to a wide range of uses like flooring and external cladding, which could replace imports from overseas and satisfy a growing Australian market for natural products being used internally and externally for buildings.
Plantation grown timber is currently not durable enough for flooring or external use. But we’re exploring densification and durability processes to make the timber more stable, harder and suitable for external uses.
This forward-thinking will assist in making plantation timber a higher value product for these applications in years to come.