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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1967) 12(1): 4–41
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
The Role of Douglas Fir in Australasian Forestry

R. Fenton

Douglas fir timber sold in New Zealand comprises about 5% of the exotic cut, produced mostly from three modern mills. It is acceptable in house-framing without preservative treatment, is sold ungraded, and has never been subject to price control. It originated in well-stocked stands which usually remained unthinned for forty years, with consequent suppression of the lower crown, reduction in knot size and branch life, and reduction in stem diameter growth rates; thus it is well suited to its major end use as framing. It adds further to the relatively abundant supplies of framing timber available, but is less versatile than radiata pine.
A third of the thinned volume {the smallest logs) has been used as rounds, with a consequent increase in overall profitability. The apparently greater value of Douglas fir, compared with radiata pine, is partly due to circumstances and partly to its particular merits.
Douglas fir from North America is the major species imported into Australia, and the effect of its absence from Australian afforestation is examined in relation to North American and New Zealand supplies. The North American old-growth resource still dominates the trade but export sources are likely to change to young-growth stands, and to hemlock. While there is a tariff advantage for New Zealand over North American supplies, the freight advantage is negligible.
The relative cost of production of the Australasian and the North American material is not known. The relative economics of Douglas fir and radiata pine in New Zealand have still to be assessed.

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