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Totara Industry Pilot Project (TIP)

Project Status: Current

Forest Ecologist, Dejan Firm from Scion discusses tree rings with Furne Patuwai at Northpine in Waipu

Forest Ecologist, Dejan Firm from Scion discusses tree rings with Furne Patuwai at Northpine in Waipu

The Tōtara Industry Pilot (TIP) is a two-year study to test the business case for a new industry based on the sustainable management of regenerating tōtara on private land. Regenerating totara is common on many farms in Northland. THis resource could be sustainably managed for conservation and production purposes - but is there a viable business case for a totara timber industry?Regenerating totara is common on many farms in Northland. THis resource could be sustainably managed for conservation and production purposes - but is there a viable business case for a totara timber industry?

This is a collaborative project initiated by Tane’s Tree Trust and the other project partners which include Scion, Northland Inc. Te Taitokerau Maori Forestry Inc. and Te Uru Rakau. Peter Berg of Tane’s Tree Trust chairs the Steering Group. And the project will run until mid-2020.

Background

The TIP project involves harvesting, milling, processing and selling of up to 500m3 of totara log volumeThe TIP project involves harvesting, milling, processing and selling of up to 500m3 of totara log volumeIn Northland (and other regions), many farms have stands of native trees and scrub often dominated by naturally regenerating tōtara. In 2005 the Northland Tōtara Working Group (NTWG) formed to explore the potential to sustainably manage regenerating tōtara for a timber production. Since then the group has conducted numerous studies on silviculture and timber use – all with encouraging results (See NTWG pages on this website).

They believe that an opportunity exists for sustainable timber production at a commercial scale to create economic returns for landowners and support business growth and employment within the Northland region, as well as bringing about the many desirable environmental enhancements associated with native forest cover.

Project details Brett Kewene breaking-out a totara log on the Cookson property near KawakawaBrett Kewene breaking-out a totara log on the Cookson property near Kawakawa

The project will harvest up to 500m3 of logs from sustainable forest management permits and plans on private land. That timber will be milled, dried and sold in order to understand the supply-chain and test the current market value. Research studies and trials will capture useful data along the way. At the end of the project it is hoped that a business case for a new regional industry – one based on the sustainable management of regenerating tōtara forests – will be established.

The TIP project involves harvesting logs, milling and processing and sales of the timber to obtain costs along the entire supply chainThe TIP project involves harvesting logs, milling and processing and sales of the timber to obtain costs along the entire supply chain

Progress to date

Two phases of harvesting have been completed up to Sept. 2019

Stage One involved 100 m³ of logs and that timber from was milled at a training sawmill in Rotorua. Grade recoveries for Stage One harvest were good. Accelerated kiln-drying studies on green timber were undertaken at Scion in Rotorua. The results of the kiln drying will be compared with the traditional air-drying approach. Preliminary results were encouraging.

Stage Two harvested 200 m³ of logs. That timber was milled at Northpine, a commercial radiata sawmill located in Waipu. One kiln-charge (60 m3) of 25 mm boards was successfully dried with little drying degrade. The 50 mm and other-sized boards were taken to Scion in Rotorua for air, or slower kiln, drying at a smaller scale. It is anticipated that there will be options for commercial-scale kiln drying of 50mm boards in the future.

Other updates are included in the August 2019 NTWG Newsletter.

Links

Checkout the Tōtara Industry Pilot project website: https://www.totaraindustry.co.nz/

Contacts for this project

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  • Paul Quinlan: Enable JavaScript to view protected content. Brett Kewene during a TIP harvest operationBrett Kewene during a TIP harvest operation