Forestry Futures

April 2022

Forestry company OneFortyOne is adding value to the timber production chain by innovating in the domestic market.

New Zealand forestry does a lot more than ‘grow, saw and ship offshore’. Forestry company OneFortyOne is adding value to the forestry and timber production chain by innovating in the domestic market and connecting with other companies wanting to do the same. The integrated forestry plantation and processing business runs Kaituna Sawmill near Blenheim, which is working hard to minimise timber waste and maximise productivity.


OneFortyOne’s sales and marketing manager Doug Davidson says there’s a misconception that New Zealand forestry is basically an export industry shipping unprocessed timber overseas. Kaituna Sawmill has increased its capacity by 40% over the past two years and 70% of what is produced at Kaituna Sawmill is sold domestically in New Zealand.


The mill is one of the largest employers in Marlborough and top of the south, with close to 90- full time staff. Processing wood from OneFortyOne’s 80,000ha of forest estate in Marlborough, Nelson and Golden Bay Tasman, the mill is also helping to address challenges for New Zealand’s built environment.


In an example of domestic consumption, Kaituna Mill is producing interior/exterior structural products and everyday DIY products and supporting local business.


A Blenheim-based company, Carbonscape, is working with OneFortyOne and the Kaituna mill to prove the value of biochar pyrolysis to create graphite for lithium-ion batteries, while horticultural operations are using woodchip as biofuel for heating glass houses. Another company is looking to prove woodchip as biofiltrate to recycle water in an industrial water use project, the bark is supplied for reprocessing which is then supplied to one of NZ largest plant media company and bagged, nothing is wasted.


OneFortyOne is also providing other partners with raw material for super-strong engineered laminated timber beams for the growing multi-rise timber building segment. This not only supports NZs renovation market, but residential housing and commercial construction environment, while sequestering carbon in timber for many decades.


An example of this engineering is the soon-to-be completed Clearwater Quays apartment complex. By all reports, its timber construction made it significantly better for embodied carbon. The CO2 release would have been 952,600kg carbon dioxide (CO2) if it had been built of concrete, compared to 865,200kg for timber construction. If that same building was steel and concrete, the CO2 would have been 794,600kg. 


Doug Davidson says OneFortyOne wants to create a net carbon positive operation, in line with an industry drive for carbon sequestration and a tree-planting and harvesting policy tied to a policy of ‘right tree, right place’. “If we put more New Zealand timber in our buildings and home-grown products, the less we’ll have to plant trees on farmland to offset our carbon emissions. And contrary to popular belief, timber construction costs significantly less than steel and concrete.”


Added-value uses of timber could be further enhanced by local and central government adopting a ‘wood first’ policy, Doug says. “This would go a significant way to ensuring to meeting the country’s 2050 net zero carbon emission commitments. “Basically, the more wooden buildings built in New Zealand, the less farmland that must be planted in trees. It really is very simple.”


Over the next three years, Kaituna sawmill will have $11m of new owner investment – that’s new equipment for three major projects to increase the sawmill’s drying and treating capacity. Scheduled to begin in April 2022, two thirds of OneForty One’s capital injection will benefit New Zealand suppliers, in kiln and treatment plant.


This is OneFortyOne’s first major investment since the upper South Island timber and mill assets from Nelson Forests in 2018. Mill general manager, Tracy Goss says its new equipment will allow it extract greater value from each log, meaning more local timber can be produced for New Zealand’s housing market.


Creating four new local jobs and due to start in April 2022, the investment will have a positive carbon footprint impact - 265t of CO2 savings annually – c. 50+ annual car emissions estimated to be reduced largely from reduced haulage to third party drying/treating.


With an improvement in our processing capability onsite, it also means 20 less trucks on the road every month, reducing OneFortyOne’s emissions by nine per cent annually.


“Reducing our footprint by another 265 tonnes annually is significant and a great example of where actively deciding to monitor and invest in reducing our carbon footprint leads to better business and community outcomes, Tracy says.


OneFortyOne’s investment builds on work by the previous owner over the past decade. In that time, the Kaituna sawmill has achieved a 46% reduction in the site’s greenhouse gas emissions. Recent environmental improvements include a state-of-the-art Biomass Energy Centre and continuous drying kiln installed in 2016. The facility has reduced the sawmill’s carbon footprint by 934 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.


Kaituna Sawmill has been in operation since 1985. Australia-based OneFortyOne bought Nelson Forests (including Kaituna Sawmill) in September 2018.