2 Dec 2009

Wood shortage as building consents rise

7:00 pm on 2 December 2009

A shortage of wood is likely in the short term as demand for building new houses increases.

Statistics show building consents were up 11% in October - the highest figure since June last year.

While the domestic construction industry is rubbing its hands at the figures, demand for export logs, particularly to China, continues.

This has prompted the claim there won't be enough wood to satisfy both the local and export markets.

The Wood Processors Association says there is a shortage of sawn timber for the domestic market, but this is likely to be resolved by logging crews increasing production next year.

Chief Executive Peter Boedeker says there's a significant increase in the demand for sawn timber.

"The irony at the moment is that there's good sales into China and a lot of our harvest is being committed for some time.

"So there's a little bit of shortage of timber about at the moment - sawn timber for the domestic market - because of those forward sales."

Mr Boedeker says the past 18 months have been tough for wood processors.

The Master Builders Federation says at this stage there is no shortage of materials but pressure is looming as a result of increased demand.

And while 23 sawmills have closed in the past 18 months, the Timber Industry Federation doesn't expect they will reopen, saying the remaining mills will be able to cope.