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Softwood timber sales near record levels – structural recovering – treated grades are rising stars

In the year to end November 2014, reported sales of softwood timber totaled 2.426 million m3, their highest level since the year to end November 2010. The record year to end November was 2007, when sales reached 2.668 million m3.

There is little doubt that the strength in domestic housing approvals is flowing through into demand for softwood timber. Indeed it has always done so, especially for the structural grades.

Structural grades accounted for 1.397 million m3 or 57.8% of total softwood timber sales. This compares to the peak in 2007 when total structural sales were 1.91m m3 or 71.1% of total softwood timber sales.

As most industry participants know, this is not a momentary aberration, it’s a long-term trend, driven by Australia’s changing mix of residential dwelling approvals, which are discussed elsewhere in this edition of Statistics Count.

The chart below shows the growth in total softwood timber sales.

Fig 5

S3G1  

To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Even as softwood sales have grown, the role of structural softwood timber has declined, largely because it is less prevalent in multi-storey dwellings.

Within the data on structural softwood, there has also been a rebalancing over the last decade. Treated products are now more prevalent than ever before. To emphasise this point, we have constructed the following chart from data contained on the FWPA Data Dashboard.

Fig 6

S3G2

To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Over the last decade, the decline in the fortunes of sawn structural softwood have been reasonably pronounced for the major untreated grade – Structural <120. For the year to end November 2014, total sales were 797,908 m3, down 40.6% on sales for the corresponding year a decade earlier.

This contrasts with the major treated grade of sawn structural softwood – H2F. For the year to end November 2014, total sales were 506,873 m3, up 22.2% for the year to end November 2013. H2F sales records only commenced in January 2005, effectively a decade ago, so looking at the year to end December 2005, we find that total sales were 126,544 m3, more than 300% lower than the current figure.

To place this data in even more stark relief, for the year to end November 2005, treated grades accounted for just 9.7% of total recorded sawn structural softwood sales. Just nine years later, for the year to end November 2014, treated grades accounted for 37.0% of total sawn structural softwood sales.

Posted Date: January 27, 2015

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