Cutting edge – In a growth industry, forestry venture breaks the barriers

Project: Quality Timber Traders
Industry: Forestry
Location: NSW and Queensland

Growing rainforest cabinet timbers is a complex process with challenges that managers of monoculture plantings do not face.

With mixed species and varying growth rates, faster growing species can dominate the woodlot. This means the forest needs thinning to keep growing, and it needs to keep growing to store carbon into the future.

The Quality Timber Traders (QTT) group is ensuring this process is managed with credible science, good marketing and sensitive environmental management.

QTT was formed after two other groups – Subtropical Farm Forestry Association (NSW) and Specialty Timber Growers (Qld) – each approached Farming Together with a view to expanding their knowledge and ability to manage woodlots more productively and sustainably.

Already hampered in bringing their highly prized timber to market, other issues existed around growth rates and environmental management; a poorly developed value chain; limited knowledge and understanding about small-scale harvesting, milling and processing; and a lack of marketing power.

Farming Together helped them identify several objectives, among them the need to begin sales of timber, boost grower engagement and build a significant membership base.

An online platform was another priority, as was the creation of a vertically integrated community – from farmer to end-user – thus building a value chain of trust.

One of the most significant elements was the instigation of an annual branded event, which became Woodfest.

The first Woodfest was held at Federal in Northern NSW in 2018, attracting hundreds of visitors and including many growers excited by the project and its potential.

Southern Cross University’s Forest Research Centre played an important role throughout, providing essential data on milling and solar drying, along with access to research on timber properties to further enhance production and market re-entry.

QTT’s establishment has greatly altered the way that farm forestry is perceived among the broader timber community, as well as among the farmers themselves.

The value chain between growers and the end-user has strengthened, and the project has generated a renewed sense of passion for sustainable farm forestry in their region.

Rowan Reid

Pictured: Rowan Reid

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