Studies to put timber potential in spotlight

THE first of three studies assessing the economic potential of Forestry Tasmania eucalyptus nitens plantations began yesterday.

Forestry Tasmania is donating 100 cubic metres of logs for a processing trial to two University of Tasmania bodies _ the National Centre for Furniture Forest Industries and the Centre for Sustainable Architecture.

The first logs are from Forestry Tasmania's Kamona trial plantation east of Scottsdale, planted in 1984.

Harvesting co-ordinator Leigh Johnstone said the genetic background of each tree was known and records of the plantations have been kept.

The largest tree is 77 centimetres in diameter and the highest was 47 metres tall.

``Nitens is prone to bending, splitting, cracking, buckling . . . it's not a very good sawn timber, it has been planted for wood volume,'' Mr Johnstone said.

``In the good old days it was pulp, now we are peeling them and laminating.''

The logs will be peeled at Ta Ann's Geeveston mill before the university studies and assess the performance of the wood.

Bill Leggate, of the university, said a report detailing the utilisation potential of the plantation would be released in about 12 months.

``We will also be looking at the fundamental wood quality . . . analysing qualities such as strength, shrinkage and hardness, etc,'' Mr Leggate said.

``After about 12 months we should have a reasonable idea as to what the woods' potential is for various products.

``A particular focus is what is called mass timber elements, which is a very popular product in Europe and many countries around the world.

``It's like plywood, but made out of sawn timber.''

Forestry Tasmania has 40,000 hectares of nitens plantations and the trial will be followed by two more using trees from plantations near Sheffield and Meunna.

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