Throughout the tropics, there has in recent times been a significant increase in the area planted in hardwood forest for the purpose of management of a timber crop. In the vast majority of these forests however, the stands are managed for the production of wood fibre as input to pulp and paper products or reconstituted wood products. As a result they are grown on relatively short rotations and to reasonably small log sizes.
Large hardwood logs have traditionally been supplied from the harvesting of natural forest, with generally little focus on the long term sustained yield from these forests. With the areas available for harvest diminishing and the volume economically recoverable from these areas also being reduced, this traditional source of supply is threatened in terms of being able to meet demand for large logs. A logical alternative is the development of plantations growing a replacement type of log.
This study considers three case studies of plantations grown for hardwood sawlogs, and in particular factors which impact on investment decisions related to this type of forest.
The study looks primarily at Fijis mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) dominated plantations, and to a lesser extent, hardwood plantations in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Fijian and PNG examples range through to mature forests while the Solomon Island example is immature. Recurrent themes are discussed and differences noted.
Appendix 1 contains a brief overview of the forestry sectors in Fiji, taken from the FAO Regional Study of the South Pacific by Chris Brown and in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. This examines the entire forestry sector for these countries including both hardwood and softwood forests.