The value of pine trees and red listed timber treatments

The boundary of our section slightly runs into the pine forest next to our section.

When we bought it I thought we had an asset on our land with about 20 pine trees. Pine trees are planted all over Northland to make money right. Well it turns out they are more of a nuisance than any value so far.

To get enough clearance of 25 metres around our house for fire safety reasons we need to cut the trees on our section and partly into the councils and neighbours section.

Since some of the trees have already fallen over we also don’t want to risk any of them falling onto our home once it is build.

One of the local contractors had a look at the trees to give a quote.

Our site is so steep that logging our trees is really difficult and costs about $1,000. Even logging the whole pine forest on the hill was an uneconomical event. You wonder why they planted the pine forest there in the first place if it is uneconomical to log them. From an ecosystem perspective there is little value in pine trees. There is hardly any biodiversity possible in pine forests and they are not native to New Zealand.

The most economical way to deal with the trees proposed by the contractor is to cut them on site and let them rot away in a couple of years. This somehow feels like such a waste of wood that could be used for something useful. The second best option is to log them when the digger for excavation is on site and use the bottom part of the trees and leave smaller logs and branches. The digger can drag the logs onto a truck to be send to the local sawmill and to another shop further up North to treat them.

It would be nice if we could use the logs to build the retaining walls and foundation but with the needed treatment and drying the logistics and time constraints could be difficult.

Another discovery is the treatment that is being used on the poles for foundations and retaining walls. They need to have an H5 treatment where most commonly in New Zealand CCA (Copper Chromium Arsenate) is used to achieve this. This material is however listed on the Red list of the Living Building Challenge framework where materials are listed which are not allowed to be used due to health, environmental or toxic food supply chain reasons.

So another bullet on the action list is to see if there are timber treatment plants that can treat wood with allowed methods that don’t use Chrome or Arsenic for a reasonable price. In that case it would make sense to use our own trees and send them to a mill and get them treated to the needed allowed specs.

Otherwise we can always find some useful ways for the timber in fencing or furniture. Inspiration enough on Pinterest.

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