Issue 225 Timber & Forestry E News
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DESCRIPTIONWeekly news for the Timber & Forestry industries
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issue 225 | 11.06.12 | Page 1
Foresters slamWest iVg report
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Cont Page 6
Library speaks volumes for wood
On neutral ground at certification forum
Sharp drop in European softwood imports
National standard priority for FSC Australia
American hardwoods target green building sector
Demand for timber bright spot in housing gloom
Plywood crowning achievement at jubilee concert
Findings on Tasmanias native forestsundermine the integrity of IGA process
THE peak body for professional foresters which has championed sound forest management practices in Australia for more than 70 years says the work of Professor Jonathon Wests group on verifying the conservation value of Tasmanias forests is highly flawed.In a hard-hitting critique that has been delivered to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Institute of Foresters of Australia says the independent verification groups processes fail to consider the contribution of current reserves and forest
management practices.The IFA with more than 1350 members engaged in all branches of forest management and conservation says the reports have failed
to fully assess the impacts of reserves on stakeholders such as tourism operators and beekeepers and have put great pressure on private landowners who have native forests for logging.It adds that Professor West did not ask the institute to review his reports as promised.State-owned Forestry Tasmania has also criticised the groups 2000 pages of review of the forest industry, suggesting it could be biased.[Julia Gillard and the Premier of Tasmania Lara Giddings
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IMPORTS of softwood sawn timber, which had previously remained at relatively high levels during the housing downturn, fell by around 23% over the March quarter despite a strong Australian dollar.European timber only accounted for around 20% to 25% of total Australian sawn timber imports prior to 2008, rising since to around 30-50%However, the March quarter results posted by the URS Timber Market Survey show Australian timber imports from Europe fell to their lowest quarterly volume in three years.Imports from the Czech Republic dropped 85% from about 22,300 cub m to around 3400 cub m this quarter.The quarterly decline in softwood timber imports was derived from a large fall in European ( - 45%) and New Zealand (- 17%) imports. Meanwhile, imports from North America increased by around 6%, to more than 30,000 cub m to account for 25% of total imports over the quarter.
The volume of imported plywood and veneer has followed a general upward trend since the second half of 2009, a period which has coincided with a strengthening Australian dollar. Despite a fall of around 6.1% over the March quarter 2012, imports remain at relatively high levels.New Zealand has been the traditional source of plywood and veneer products, although
Chile and China have emerged as significant suppliers over the last decade.The URS survey says softwood price trends for structural and outdoor products have diverged over the last 18 to 24 months, with outdoor product prices remaining strong and structural prices falling during the downturn in the housing construction market.The high level of competition from cheaper imports of structural timber is also influencing downward price movements. Conversely, the landscaping market has apparently been less affected by the housing downturn which began in late 2010.MGP10 structural timber prices have fallen to lesser extent than MGP12 over this period. The MGP12 price index has now fallen to below levels experienced during the GFC, to be at its lowest point since September 2007.Despite some intermittent volatility, the price index for plywood C/D has followed a general downward trend since the March quarter 2009. This relates to the downturn
ForestWorks performsa range of industry
wide functions acting as the channel
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Education and Training (VET) system
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European importstake sharp dive inhousing downturn
Fewer orders .. softwood imports fell by around 23% over the March quarter.
Cont Page 9
Finance approvals for housing increased by 4.6%
over the March quarter, indicating potential for an
improvement in the housing market later in the year
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Demand for timber bright spotin gloomy market for housing
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Wilhelm Harnisch .. interest cut psychological circuit breaker in restoring home buyer confidence.
THE flickering light at the end of the housing downturn tunnel could be the eventual greater use of timber as a building design alternative.Chief executive of the Timber Development Association Andrew Dunn said there had been many requests from people seriously considering timber as a low-cost alternative in the non-traditional housing sector.Inquiries are coming in from all over the place wanting information on pre-fabricated construction using engineered wood, Mr Dunn said. They obviously see this as the way to reduce costs as the traditional housing market stagnates.
Meanwhile, Master Builders Australia says the decision by the Reserve Bank to lower official interest rates by 25 basis points should help consumer confidence but the banks must
play their part.Chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said the interest cut had the potential to act as an important psychological circuit breaker in restoring confidence and rekindling home buyer interest but the RBA should not hesitate to cut rates further if there was no rebound in confidence.The industry, in particular, is looking for the rate cut to put a floor under falling consumer confidence, Mr Harnisch said.Anecdotal reports from house builders indicate that there are a number of factors contributing to weak home buyer confidence, including the Euro crisis, minority government and uncertainty arising from the carbon tax.Lower interest rates are a vital precursor to a private sector economic recovery, particularly in the housing and commercial building sectors currently facing very difficult trading conditions.Mr Harnisch said banks must mirror the cut in official rates to help new home buyers as well as providing relief for existing homeowners and small businesses struggling with
This time there is no justification for the banks to delay or withhold any part of the reduction in the official cash rate announced by the RBA.
However, hopes of a housing sector turnaround have been upset by data that shows last months rate cut had not invigorated the market.
Housing Industry Association senior economist Andrew Harvey warned that the number of housing starts could fall further if the Reserve Bank didnt cut rates a couple more times.
The HIA says it is also imperative that the government announce measures to boost an underperforming new home building sector in New South Wales when the Treasurer brings down his second budget on June 12.The state continues to have the largest housing shortfall in Australia. The current annual build rate of around 30,000 homes is well short of underlying demand and places NSW behind smaller states in the delivery of housing supply.A housing recovery is a must for NSW and can be driven largely by appropriate state government initiatives, NSW chief executive director David