Small port supplying world’s biggest timber importer

Pine trees moving across Gisborne’s port meet an astonishing six percent of China’s total international demand for soft wood, says Eastland Port General Manager Andrew Gaddum. The January to June 2017 figures extracted from online industry newsletter WoodWeek reiterate what a significant player this region is in a global business, worth billions.

“Six percent may not sound like much but when you consider that the Chinese soft wood log market was worth a staggering $US2.2 billion for the first half of this year, then that’s monumental,” says Eastland Port General Manager Andrew Gaddum.

China is the world’s biggest importer of timber. Nearly a quarter (24%) of China’s soft wood comes from New Zealand, with Russia the second biggest supplier at 23%. Figures from the report show that of the 6.2 million cubic metres of soft wood (Pinus radiata) that left New Zealand for China in the first half of this year, 17.5% or 1,080291 cubic metres came out of Gisborne over the same period.

“Every time you see a log it’s phenomenal to consider it’s going across the wharves of a pint-sized port at the bottom of the world and making a big dent in wood supply for the world’s biggest consumers. And because of that international demand, thousands of this region’s families are benefiting.”

Mr Gaddum says the industry’s attention to sustainable forest harvesting means there’s a continuing cycle of planting and growth, known as rotation. “Certainly, everyone is working towards sustainability in this industry for a long time yet.”

As further evidence of local industry strength Eastland Port recorded a solid September for log throughput, and a significant milestone. “Overnight, on 21 September, we handled the 2 millionth tonne of wood for this calendar year. We’ve reached that 2 million tonne mark six weeks ahead of last year,” says Mr Gaddum.

This September, 225,274 tonnes of wood was loaded onto 10 log vessels. It would have been more had bad weather not trapped two ships at Port of Tauranga as the month clicked over to October. As part of its twin berth development plans Eastland Port submitted its first resource consent application (to rebuild wharf 6 and 7, and reshape the slipway) to Gisborne District Council this month.

Photo: The Eastland Port display at the Gisborne A&P Show provided an opportunity for public feedback on the port's planned twin berth development, and it also gave people the chance to pilot a tug. Six-year-old Winston Williams was among those to steer the remote-controlled tug around the model wharf, seawall, and port. Image credit: Brennan Thomas Strike Photography

Source: Eastland Port

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