Port of Tauranga gears for bigger log flow

By Carmen Hall


Log exports are up 11.9 per cent this year at the Port of Tauranga and it has the capacity to handle even greater quantities in the future.

Commercial manager Graeme Marshall said the port had additional land and the ability to intensify current log wharf areas. It had tarsealed several hectares of off-wharf area to make storage more effective. Stevedoring and marshalling jobs had also increased to keep up with the current volumes.

"There is a significant flow-on effect from increases in forestry, with more jobs from the forest to the wharf."

Forestry Contractors Association CEO John Stulen said demand from Asia had continued to gather momentum and the export log market remained steady.

"Traditionally that peaks in the December quarter because the Chinese have a New Year after ours and it tends to slow things down. But because the US logs didn't continue to flood into the market in China we've had volume increases and prices have held, so it's good for contractors."

The industry had quietly sustained growth for the past four years, but he said it would be a challenge to keep selling wood at the same price.

Forest Industries Training and Education Council forestry assistant training operations manager Dave Adams said logging and silviculture didn't experience a recession and had remained buoyant.

The organisation is responsible for industry training and has 400 students on its books in the Bay and 4000 nationally.

Mr Adams, with 32 years in the forestry industry, said many bushmen his age didn't have any formal training but now it would be difficult to find anyone without it. "That is one of the real big changes I have seen. Structured training is not only available but expected."

Waiariki Institute of Technology School of Forestry and Primary Industries director Jeremy Christmas said the lift in forestry activity had been reflected in a 3 per cent lift in student numbers.

Drug testing had resulted in increased enrolments of young, motivated students rather than the opposite, "and we now have waiting lists for courses, and those who want to have careers in the bush are getting snapped up".


Facts:


Statistics New Zealand figures show forestry and logging activity levels experienced a 9 per cent lift, the highest since the series began in June 1987.

Last year for the six months to December, log volumes at the Port of Tauranga rose 13.8 per cent to 2.649 million tonnes. Import volumes remained steady at just under three million tonnes.

Forestry is New Zealand's third largest export goods sector, behind dairy and meat. Total exports are worth more than $3 billion a year.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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