Innovative sub-tropical cabinet timber growers in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland are offering more market power to small-holders, thanks to backing by the Australian Government.
Two regional not-for-profit groups have received $200,000 from the Commonwealth Government’s Farm Cooperatives and Collaboration Pilot Program, known as Farming Together.
The groups – NSW’s Subtropical Farm Forestry Association, NSW and Queensland’s Specialty Timber Growers Incorporated – have united under the brand Quality Timber Traders (QTT) to improve small-scale grower marketing power and find outlets for selling their timber.
Carol Neal, president of the Queensland group said: “Many individual small-scale growers across Queensland and New South Wales established mixed cabinet timber species with a view to harvesting the trees for their high-value timber. The dominant species in the plantations, commonly known as Silver quandong, Blue quandong or Blue fig (Elaeocarpus grandis) is at an age where harvesting operations and timber processing can commence.
“Many growers are also unaware of the challenges they will face finding harvesting contractors, negotiating fair prices for harvest operations, transport, milling and processing their timber. Most growers will also have small volumes of timber. Small sales may be achieved, but their combined volumes should allow them to enter larger markets,” she said.
“Collectively, expertise within the two groups is as such that the challenges of harvesting, timber processing, marketing and sales are more likely to be met.”
QTT aims to survey growers to develop a marketing strategy that will help them harvest, process and sell their timber.
The group will also undertake smallholder plantation viability, milling and drying methods, and biomass studies (i.e. carbon sequestration) of the group’s dominant species. The studies will be undertaken by Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
QTT is also running a vigorous marketing campaign, peer-hosted field days and educational workshops. It aims to generate interactive web-based databases for participating growers.
Carol said: “No farm is too small. If you are a grower and are interested in knowing more, or if you would like to participate in this project, contact us.” Visit firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.qualitytimbertraders.com.