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Increasing sub/tropical eucalypt timber plantation profitability by value adding to thinnings

Baillères H., Mc Gavin R., Harding K., Kennedy M.. 2012. In : 2012 IUFRO Conference. Division 5 Forest products, 8-13 July 2012, Lisbon, Portugal : final program, proceedings and abstracts book. Vienne : IUFRO, p. 111-112. 2012 IUFRO Conference Division 5 Forest Products, 2012-07-08/2012-07-13, Lisbonne (Portugal).

New processing options and end-uses are being developed to create larger, more stable and higher-value markets for plantation-sourced wood. To justify continued expansion of Australia's current hardwood plantation estate it is becoming necessary to develop higher value end-uses for, both pulpwood and smaller 'sawlog' resources. To improve its profitability and win new markets, the industry needs to use stems currently culled during thinnings as they have little or no economic value. This paper describes current Australian R&D into value adding to improve economic returns from small diameter (12 - 25 cm), 8-15 year old sub/tropical hardwood plantation thinnings. The product focus is raised far above the pulpwood commodity baseline to maximise the value of the fibre harvested. Small spindleless veneer lathe technology has been used to optimize the processing of this resource. Results are clearly indicating that the early age hardwood plantation resource, previously thought to be unusable, can be processed to yield valuable structural grade veneer. Plywood and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) products have been manufactured and tested utilising multiple construction strategies. New market-relevant options, such as innovative hybrid/composite pole products, arched and straight light structural round members and hardwood veneer-based engineered structural products, are discussed and compared with more traditional sawing approaches. These offer economically viable avenues to more profitable operations in smaller-scale plantation resources and using smaller log sizes than required for conventional peeling, pulping and sawmilling uses.

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