(See also Hoop Pine and the Environment, below)
Building Applications for Hoop Pine Timber, Plywood, Particle Board 1
From an ethical, sustainable point of view, Hoop Pine is streets ahead of most of its plantation-grown exotic softwood counterparts.
Immature, plantation-grown stems are almost entirely sapwood, which typically comprises more than 50% of the stem radius even in mature plantations.
Sapwood readily accepts commercial preservative impregnation, but the heartwood cannot be adequately treated using currently available commercial processes. Sapwood can be painted to protect from borers.
NB: In drier regions, it may be that Hoop pine heartwood does not need preservatives to be suitable for all but inground applications. Please let us know of your experiences with Hoop heartwood. If high durability is required, rather than treat with preservative, use a more durable species (recycled hardwood) or a non-timber alternative.
To avoid distortion, framing sizes should be high-temperature dried. Boards may be air dried or kiln dried at conventional or high temperatures.
NB: Thinnings may require pre-steaming and high-temp drying to offset tendency to twist. Easy to dry, but care is needed to avoid bluestain.
Soft (rated 5 on a 6-class scale), in relation to indentation and working with hand tools.
Machines and turns well to a smooth surface. Knots not quite as easy to work as Pinus species.
No difficulty has been experienced with the use of standard fittings and fastenings.
Can be satisfactorily bonded using standard procedures.
Will readily accept stain, polish and paint.
Round poles for pole frame construction - (heartwood) in drier regions only.
General purpose softwood used as seasoned, stress-graded and thicknessed dressed timber, excellent in general house-framing, flooring, lining, mouldings, laminated beams. In drier regions only, use heartwood for: external cladding, decking, fascia and barge boards, sawn or round form in fencing, pergolas, landscaping, retaining walls, playground equipment. Also useful as structural plywood and particle board.
Furniture, plywood, joinery, turnery, carving
Boat building (masts, planking, deck beams, frames, marine plywood), aircraft construction, wood wool, paper products, arrow shafts, broom handles, cooperage, beehives, brushware, dowelling, blind rollers, draughting implements, boat oars, musical instruments (violin and guitar bellies), scaffold planks, match splints.
Sapwood: Almost white; often indistinguishable from Heartwood.
Heartwood: Pale cream to light yellow-brown in colour.
Texture: Smooth, very uniform, grain straight except around knots.
Growth Rings: Not prominent; transition from earlywood to latewood very gradual. False annual ring sometimes present as narrow and indistinct intermediate latewood bands.
Resin Canals: Absent.
Rays: Fine, indistinct without a lens.
Parenchyma: Not visible with lens.
From an ecological point of view, growing Hoop Pines in plantations is preferable to growing Radiata Pine.
Admittedly, Hoop Pines are, like Radiata, grown in monocultures and at maturity are clearcut. But they have the advantage over exotic timbers in that they at least belong to the land of our region. Hoop pine is native to north-east NSW and southern Queensland, as well as mountainous areas of Papua New Guinea; Radiata comes from a relatively limited area on the west coast of North America, but is planted widely in the world's southern temperate zone (especially South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and Australia).
In Hoop plantations, an understorey can develop which, at least for a few decades under present cutting regimes, provides habitat for other species (of plants and animals), whereas the ground in Radiata plantations is usually covered in a layer of highly acidic pine needles and a few hardy (exotic) weeds, but is otherwise barren. Native plants and animals just cannot make a go of it in or under under these trees. (Go into a radiata plantation: more often than not, all you will hear is the wind sighing in the trees - no birdsong.)
The duration between 'crop-rotations' in a hoop plantation is also longer - about 45 years rather than 35 years, as for Radiata Pine. This gives the other understorey species a longer time-frame within which to establish their habitat before the plantation is again harvested. Hoop Pine plantations are also preferable to Radiata in that they require less fertilisers and/or herbicides.
In NSW, it would appear that demand for Hoop Pine currently outstrips supply, yet there are good supplies of the timber in northern NSW and Queensland.
Nonetheless, the existing plantation estate in Queensland could be expanded for example by converting regional pineapple farms - whose environmental track-record is appalling. (Pineapple farms are highly vulnerable to soil erosion because of archaic management techniques used, and are usually heavily contaminated by pesticides. Retrained pineapple growers would be able to have a less toxic, much safer and more sustainable livelihood!)
Likewise, in the NSW Northern Rivers region, financially beleaguered cattle farmers could transfer to Hoop production and capitalise on the increasing world prices for plantation timber whilst progressively divesting themselves of their devaluing livestock. (Regenerating rainforest in cattle-free riparian zones could also begin to stabilise and restore the region's highly degraded river systems.) With increased supply of the timber, the potential for marketing Hoop Pine both domestically and overseas is huge.
Hoop and Radiata have different site requirements, so expansion of the Hoop plantation estate can complement existing stocks of Radiata. Clearly, the agenda for future timber supplies should include plans for many more mixed-species native softwood and hardwood plantations - Hoop Pine could be one of the dominant species in these, putting it at the forefront of a resurgenceof our ailing timber industry.
NB: Be wary of any product with a clear-grade Hoop Pine veneer, as it may come from what are or should be high conservation value [HCV] areas within state forests. Environment groups are campaigning to change the areas of NSW forests which have been reserved for their so-called 'high conservation value', because too many logged-over areas have been included in reserves, and too many high-value old growth forest areas have remained on State Forests' Order of Works.
1. See Plantation Pine Fibreboard, Particleboard, Plantation Hoop Pine Sawmillers, Plantation Pine Plywood, Plantation Pine Wholesalers in the Alternative Directory.
2. See also the article What We Need to Grow are Durable Native Softwoods - which calls for the cultivation of durable native softwoods which won't need preservative treatments.