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Small scale foresters should check timber prices

Small-scale forest owners are being encouraged to check what local timber processors can offer before they sell their woodlots. Source: Otago Daily Times

While the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association accepted growers had the “absolute right” to sell their trees to their best advantage, local processors should also have the opportunity to secure log supply for their mills, president Neil Cullen, of South Otago, said.

“Forest buyers are operating in the market who have targeted smaller independent forests of mid-rotation age and who intend to export all those trees that they purchase.”

There was anecdotal evidence as well that some owners of small woodlots were “selling to these buyers at a price below the true current value of their forest. That doesn’t make sense. These growers have waited so many years for their trees to reach near maturity and wish to maximise their returns,” Mr Cullen said.

The issue was mainly in Northland where there was an “unusual situation” with a higher proportion of logs being exported than anywhere else in the country.

That was where overseas companies were buying up forests with the intention of export. He had not heard of any issues in Otago, he said.

Mr Cullen encouraged people to get good advice as to what their trees were worth to make sure any offer made for them was true value and to explore all options.

The NZFFA has 1700 members and represented small-scale forest growers – those with less than 1000ha of forest. Small-scale growers owned more than 500,000ha of trees, representing a third of the national stocked area. Much of that was established during the 1990s planting boom and would be harvested in the next 10 years.