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Domestic market . . . Jimmy's Creek Forest owners and FML director standing onsite at Jimmys Creek with freshly cut domestic mill logs ready for log loading and transport. From left Lynn and David Stone, Ross Hyndman, Mike Hodgen, Glenn Moir and Jan Hodgen. PHOTO: Supplied

By Shelley Topp

A decision to develop Jimmy’s Creek Forest, near Motunau in North Canterbury, with the New Zealand domestic market in mind has been rewarded with favourable pricing.

The forest is managed by Glenn Moir, the director of Forest Management Limited (FML), which was formed in 1990 to provide forest owners with expertise in establishing forests plus tending, harvesting and marketing the timber from them in Canterbury, the West Coast, Otago and Southland.

FML was approached by the forest’s owners in 1997 to takeover the management of the trees, Mr Moir says.

The owners of the forest, Lynn and David Stone, Ross Hyndman, and Mike and Jan Hodgen had purchased the block from Dick Carmichael at Coringa Farm, near Motunau.

It had two stands. A 24 hectare block of 17-year-old trees which had sporadic pruning and consisted of more than 1200 stems per hectare, plus 86ha which had been planted in 1993 and consisted of 81ha of radiata pine with the remainder in macrocarpa spread in small pockets throughout the block.

“Our first task was to thin-to-waste stand one,” Mr Moir says.

“Due to its age there was a high risk of windthrow so the decision was made to thin to a higher rate per hectare.”

During the next 10 years the company pruned and thinned the younger trees to produce a mixed clearwood and structural forest dependent on soils and shelter.

Stand one was harvested in 2012 and produced high volumes of quality sawlogs and postwood for the domestic market.

Since then it has been replanted and will have pruning and thinning completed this coming summer.

Harvesting of stand two is now under way with Greta Valley contractor Davaar Logging doing the work which is expected to be completed later this year.

“This forest has also been grown with a domestic market focus and is producing a full range of products from high-value pruned and peeler logs and minimal amounts of export and low-grade chip wood,” Mr Moir says.

“It is carrying over 600 tonnes per hectare and generating exceptional stumpage returns (average value per tonne across all the grades cut) to the forest owners.”

The forestry industry has been riding a high in recent times with log prices reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s, both overseas and in New Zealand.

Mr Moir cautions that although that cannot continue, the long term outlook for forestry is bright.

“We are now seeing a small increase in the estate again on the back of high carbon and timber prices, and the long-term outlook is very positive for our industry.

“This combination of carbon and timber is giving great returns back to growers and we are seeing more Canterbury landowners comparing these returns to standard farming practices and making the decision to plant more trees on their farms.

“Our Canterbury planting programme is already fully booked for 2022 with another 1800ha being converted back to gold’.”