EXPORT VALUE-ADDED TIMBER, PNG SEMINAR URGED

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 21, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online, 21 March 2002)---Papua New Guinea should be looking at exporting value-added wood products rather than round logs, says Dr. Dave Robson of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Dr. Robson said in Port Moresby yesterday this would make economic sense in terms of addressing the trade imbalance in forest products.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the Forest Industries Association, Dr. Robson also said that quality control at all stages of the processing chain is essential to maintain market share in high value wood products.

Papua New Guinea's current exports to import ratio of the value of wood products is approximately 24 to one, with unimproved industrial round wood predominately being exported and paper and paperboard being imported.

Dr. Robson is the head of the Wood and Fiber Technologies Department of the Commonwealth Scientific and Information Research Organization, Australia’s largest government research agency.

He said: "In order to maximize the value realized from any given natural forest log it is necessary to harvest carefully, minimizing damage in the field, ensuring appropriate storage until sawing, sawing to maximize value recovery and drying the timber to produce a value-added product.

"PNG is well placed with a variety of natural hardwoods that have appealing attributes that readily lend themselves to higher value adding."

He said that in order to appropriately market the diverse and valuable timbers from PNG’s forests it is first necessary to understand the wood properties and wood attributes of individual species.

"The market and timber processors prefer timbers with well-established commercial histories," he said. "To produce a quality timber product the log must be handled carefully from the forest to the showroom."

Dr. Robson said one of the greatest challenges in improving the value of PNG’s hardwoods is the development of markets for the product. In order to develop and keep market share it is essential that a quality product is produced every time from PNG’s processing facilities.

"Additional to this is the long-term supply requirements for the timber," he said. "This indicates that sustainable management of the forest and plantation resources is essential to the success of the wood products industry.

"If a specific species is not available for a short time, then substitution may be possible with a species exhibiting similar attributes but it is essential that these attributes are known and matched for the product being produced."

He said both Papua New Guinea and Australia have an increased focus on the management and value adding of their natural resources. And they both need to develop more sophisticated wood markets where quality of timber, as well as quantity, would be accounted for.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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