Dubbed “The Wall of Wood”, it is the result of a spike in planting in the 1990s when log prices soared. Most wood is exported as logs, mainly to China, and Napier Port has made changes to the way it operates to accommodate the increase, including the ability to load logs from four berths.
Port commercial manager Andrew Locke said the volume had quadrupled since 2000. “We have gone from 400,000 tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes,” he said. “Within eight years we will be at 3 million tonnes and I think that is a very conservative number.”
“About 95 per cent of what we handle via Napier Port is on the truck and last year about 200,000 tonnes on rail. We think that will grow. We are working with the Wairoa rail option at the moment to try and take some trucks off the road. We think long term, we might get 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes on rail.”
The wood sector has faced criticism about its lack of wood processing facilities in the region, but Mr Locke said it was a major economic contributor. “The latest number is $100 million that the forest sector brings to the Hawke’s Bay community.”
He said the largest forestry company, Pan Pac, which produces timber and wood pulp, ships 800,000 tonnes of cargo through Napier Port annually and employed more than 45 people. “The multiplier effect is a very large number.”