Why New Zealand Pine?
Radiata pine is reported to be steadily growing as a replacement for the more expensive Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir in the United States and Japan.
Radiata has become appreciated for its suitability for a wide range of uses. In the past, before harvest of pruned trees began providing clearwood on a significant scale, the lower grade, unpruned timber was most suitable for low grade applications including: construction, form work, packing cases, panelling, pulp/paper products, pulpwood, building materials, housing construction, fibre board and MDF, and plywood veneers.
More recently, as clearwood has become available, the range of uses has expanded into higher end uses, including furniture, veneer and mouldings. Accordingly perception and use of radiata has improved, and continues to improve.
Extensive research and experience in plantation forestry has provided a good understanding of how New Zealand pine log quality can be influenced by genetic selection, silviculture and the method of conversion.
New Zealand pine forests are established with genetically selected stock and managed to provide a predictable, premium quality log resource for a wide range of world markets. Ideal growing conditions and appropriate management permit the harvesting of large logs (up to 80 cm diameter) on rotations of approximately 30 years. The logs are typically healthy, containing no decay, internal splits, or growth stresses.
Consisting mainly of white sapwood, with prominent fine resin canals, the timber presents a uniform appearance with little colour variation between pieces. This is an advantage for subsequent finishing. Also, trees can be artificially pruned so the ‘knotty core’ is restricted to a small cylinder, around which defect free ‘clearwood’ is produced.
According to the widely accepted definition, sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Radiata pine grows faster here than anywhere else. It adapts to different site conditions and responds well to silviculture treatments. While New Zealand has just 0.05% of the world’s forest resource, it is a top 20 global forest products supplier – the result of its intensive sustainable forest management policies.
Our forests are naturally renewable, sequester carbon, recyclable and ultimately biodegradable. Frequently they have been planted on former farmland in order to control water, soil and wind erosion. And, as anyone who works in forestry knows, they are rich with wildlife, providing a favourable habitat for many indigenous species.
In recent years, forestry has also been recognised for its ability to redress some of the negative environmental impacts of our energy-intensive society, as well as the emissions from intensive agriculture. Half the weight of timber is carbon, derived from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the main gases associated with global warming. Catchments planted in trees also have very low nitrogen discharges to ground and surface water, thereby helping to maintain the quality of our streams, rivers and lakes.