The slowly recovering home construction industry is resulting in long-awaited improvement in demand and prices for large pine logs across the southern pine belt, one of the nation’s largest forestry consulting firms reports.
Marshall Thomas, president of F&W Forestry Services, Inc., based in Albany, Ga., that provides management services to forest landowners in much of the nation’s commercial tree-growing regions, reports in his firm’s quarterly newsletter that prices for pine sawtimber used for manufacturing lumber have been up modestly for three consecutive years.
“For the last three years southern pine stumpage prices (paid landowners) have increased at a steady rate of about $2 (per ton) per year–from $23/T in 2012 to $25/T in 2013 and all the way to $27/T in 2014,” Thomas writes in the winter 2015 edition of the F&W Forestry Report. “While those aren’t the kinds of gains we saw in the 1900’s, they are steady and going in the right direction for the first time in a long time.”
Thomas says he expects the timber price gains to continue as new home construction continues to gather steam as most economists predict.
“Housing starts at the end of the year were slightly over the million mark, up from the 2013 average of 925,000,” Thomas said. “A recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal found that forecasters expect housing starts to reach 1.22 million in 2015. That is getting close to the number that has typically stimulated the Southern timber market. Long term forecasts call for continued increases through 2017, so this important demand factor for sawtimber is looking good,” Thomas wrote.
Established in 1962, F&W Forestry Services, Inc., of Albany, Ga., is one of the nation’s oldest and largest forest consulting and management firms. The company handles timber sales and provides comprehensive forest management and consulting services to private and industrial landowners through a network of 20 offices in 12 states comprising the Southern pine belt, the Central and Appalachia regions, Upstate New York, and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. It also manages private forestlands in South America and Europe with offices in Uruguay, Brazil, and France.