Log revenues soar for Taranaki port

In Taranaki, logs are a growing business for the ratepayer-owned port and they're rolling in and out in record numbers. That's meant the port has had to adapt its operations to meet the needs of its forestry customers.

According to the port's 2016 annual report, 357,000 JAS tonnage were exported during that financial year. That was well up on the 209,000 JAS shipped overseas in 2015. As a result, log revenues soared 80 per cent, which helped offset a fall in commodity imports and exports. That growth is showing no sign of easing.

According to the Port of Taranaki's latest annual report, its "log business continues to grow exponentially." The report states that "favourable market conditions, low inventory levels in China, and large numbers of harvest-ready trees in our catchment area have combined to produce another year of record growth."

In the last financial year 486,000 JAS passed across Port Taranaki's wharves. That's a jump of 36 per cent, which saw revenue generated from logs surge 29 per cent. It's meant the port is having to change the way it stores logs. As well as stacking them higher, it's also investigating developing more land at the former power station site to store logs.

I suspect the growth in log exports has meant more trucks on our roads. But that might not always be the case. The port is "examining means to extend our forestry catchment area and service the growing demand by developing a combined road- rail transport mode for logs."

With rail facilities on-hand the port says it has the infrastructure to make this practical and economically viable. The log business is providing a lifeline for the port during a challenging period.

The latest figures follow a report published in March by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research on the plantation forest industry, which highlighted its value to the economy. It found the forestry and logging sector is worth NZ$1.4 billion to the national GDP. It's hugely important to provincial economies like Gisborne and the surrounding area, injecting NZ$96 million annually.

That's nearly 5.55 per cent of that region's GDP. In Taranaki, the figure for logging and forestry was only NZ$8 million. But wood product processing pumps NZ$50 million into the region's economy.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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