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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1984) 29(2): 225–248
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
New Zealand's exports of logs and sawntimber to Japan

R. Fenton

Exports of logs from New Zealand to Japan began in 1958 and of sawn squares over 160 mm thick, in 1967. In 1972 sales represented about 25% of total roundwood removals; they dropped to about 10% in 1982. The margin per m3 of sawn squares over logs dropped from about 50 to 30% from 1968 to 1982. There is no such margin for competing U.S. hemlock. Real prices in Japan of all softwood log and large-sawn imports have dropped at generally similar rates since 1972. Larch logs from U.S.S.R, have supplanted radiata pine as the cheapest softwood since 1974.

The past basis of marketing — minimum effort and cost through the major trading companies — of salvage or often of poor logs (sawn in Japan and sold ungraded) was effective, in the sense of being profitable, as there was a sufficient market for the material. Although over 75% of all other softwoods are used in construction, over 75% of radiata pine is used for packaging. Lack of grading and seasoning may prevent any improvement, and there are no prospects for increased sales in Japan from the expanded afforestation programme, unless the timber is graded. If grown here and graded in Japan, total sales would be restricted by the need to dispose of the 50%+ of low-grade timber produced from New Zealand raw material.

Research is needed now on the returns from selective cross-cutting; on sawing short-length logs and on the export framing grade potential of the new crop stands. Much more specific information on plantation quality is required, while marketing has to be fundamentally changed.

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