THE Northern Territory’s timber industry is likely to undergo a rapid expansion following the buyout of four cattle stations.
Up to 40% of the newly-acquired stations will be planted with African mahoganies and the rest of the land kept for cattle.
The stations are the 5000ha Stray Creek, 16,000ha Gypsy Spring and 5000ha Kumbyechants in the Douglas Daly region and the 5000ha Rocktear Park near Katherine.
Plantation Tropical Timbers paid $5.9 million for Kumbyechants and Willmott Forests paid $5.5 million for Rocktear Park.
The stations are all small but further buyouts are expected.
The forestry plantations will be managed by Melbourne-based African Mahogany Australia.
Director Steve Hoban said studies at properties down south had shown that commercial trees could be planted with no detriment to the core farming operation.
He said the demand for African mahogany was high and urged Territory cattlemen to grow “corridors” of trees on their properties.
“The mahogany provides shade and won’t harm the cattle industry,” he said.
“The price for the timber is good and expected to stay that way.
“It diversifies income and risk. It’s a very sustainable industry.”
There is a domestic market for the mahogany. But the demand in South-east Asia is growing fast as pressure to stop cutting down forests increases.
Most, if not all, the Territory timber is likely to be freighted to Darwin on the AustralAsia railway and then sent to Asia through the East Arm Wharf.
Hoban said the stations were attractive because they were near the railway.
African mahogany is harvested after 20 years, but thinning takes place at six and 10 years.
Hoban said the Territory’s timber projects were already providing jobs.
“The plantations have to be maintained, which means work and money for the local community,” he said. – Northern Territory News