17 Sep 2013

Forest owners racing clock to salvage timber

7:15 am on 17 September 2013

Canterbury forest owners are up against the clock as they face the huge task of recovering a massive amount of wind-blown wood from their plantations in the next few months.

The industry is still assessing the cost of last week's wind storm that left plantations, wood lots and shelter belts in tatters throughout the region.

Canterbury-based forestry consultant and manager Allan Laurie said hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wood had been felled or, according to one estimate, the equivalent of up to five years' harvest.

Forest owners would have to move fast to recover the wood before it started to deteriorate, he said.

"For the domestic market, where the buyers demand that the wood is free of sap stain ... we've got only probably two to three months to get that wood into them in a non-contaminated state," Mr Laurie said.

"But the export scene is a little bit easier. The Chinese, which is the dominant market for Canterbury, they're not quite so concerned about sap stain because the timber is mostly used in form work - holding up concrete and so forth.

"So... we may have up to 12 months to recover volume where it's going to export."

Logging crews would have to be brought in from outside Canterbury to help, Mr Laurie said.