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Tech enabling better land management AND extra revenue for private native sector

The results of two key research projects are being used to explore a new approach to generating income from small logs that would otherwise have gone to waste.

A recent industry workshop was held to educate landowners on the potential of silviculture treatment to improve forest productivity. Smaller logs resulting from thinning operations could then be used to feed a spindleless veneer processing line, and create a profitable means of utilising them.

The FWPA-supported research was conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and has demonstrated that a significant volume of underutilised and undervalued resource exists within Australia’s native forests. In addition, a more efficient processing system can enable a substantially greater volume of product to be recovered from sub-optimum quality logs.

Focusing on southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, researchers led by Dr Tom Lewis found that private native forests are generally in poor productive condition, with a high proportion of small trees present. 

While the process of ‘thinning’, or removing smaller trees as a silvicultural treatment option, is known to improve the productive condition of a forest, it is rarely carried out because landowners fail to see any immediate economic returns. This is not surprising when you consider any trees removed in this way tend to attract minimal or no value.

A second research project explored the sorts of processes and technologies that could create financial returns from these smaller logs. Focusing on the production of LVL-type products using spotted gum, white cypress pine and hoop pine, it was found that the rotary peeling, enabled by spindleless lathe technology, yielded higher and more consistent product recoveries than previously tested alternatives. In fact, the project leader Dr Rob McGavin from the QDAF Salisbury Research Facility reports the recovered proportion of dry, graded and trimmed veneers were produced at around twice the volume of dried, dressed and graded sawn boards.

Additionally, the veneer-grade quality, combined with the measured mechanical properties, indicated the recovered veneers – in particular those using spotted gum – would suit the manufacture of structural engineered wood products.

Rigorous testing of the products was conducted, including properties such as bending, tension, shear strength, compression strength, connector embedment, fire performance and durability. This testing yielded positive results, with the veneers often demonstrating performances exceeding those of existing alternative products.

Combined, these research projects have generated new information for foresters on the potential for using small logs to supply industry with high quality hardwood products in the future, while at the same time undertaking a profitable and effective land management solution.

Participants at the workshop, which was hosted by Private Forest Services Queensland and Parkside Timbers (also research project partners) recognised that new technologies such as spindleless veneer processing are guaranteed to play an important future role in the forestry industry.


Posted Date: June 12, 2019

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