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Wood quality variability - what is it, what are the consequences and what we can do about it?

Authors: John Moore, Dave Cown
Publication: New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume N.Z.J.For. 2014, Issue N.Z.J.For. 59(4) 2015, pp 3-9, Jan 2015
Publisher: New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Abstract: In recent years there has been a renewed focus on wood quality, and the recent Forest Growers’ Science and Innovation Plan identified it as the common research priority of both forest growers and wood processors. Variations in the properties of the wood raw material supply affect the quality of the end-products produced by wood processors, which in turn affects their profitability. The forests that will provide the raw material for New Zealand’s domestic processing sector are already in the ground and growing, and a key priority will be to better characterise the wood properties of the trees in these forests to ensure that they are sent to the most appropriate processing stream. New advances in remote sensing and other segregation technologies may help, but they will only be used when the benefits outweigh the cost of implementing them. Understanding the drivers of variation in wood properties and developing strategies for dealing with this variation is important when establishing new forests that will provide the wood supply of the future. It is important in all these areas to understand the implications of decisions on end-product quality and not just surrogate measurements such as wood density. Knowledge and modelling tools that connect tree breeders, forest growers and wood processors are required to enable the impacts of various decisions to be measured in terms of end-product quality. Relating this back to a return-to-log measure will enable the benefits of improving wood quality to be better quantified, potentially leading to better price signals for higher quality logs.
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