Ecology and management of South Island beech forests: Beech (Nothofagus) silviculture in the South Island.
- Production Forestry Division, Forest Research Institute, Rangiora
Of the four native species of beech, silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii) is important as a commercial timber species in western Southland (and to a lesser extent on the West Coast), red beech N. fusca is also milled to some extent on the West Coast, but hard beech (N. truncata) and mountain beech (N. solandri var. cliffortioides) are seldom cut. On the debit side, all these species are difficult to saw and season (silver beech is the least difficult), logs often contain extensive heartrot, and attack by Platypus beetles (pinhole) often precludes the use of otherwise clear timber for decorative purposes. In addition, poorer grades of beech timber are difficult to market in competition with exotic softwoods. On the credit side, beech timbers are stronger and more decorative than most of our exotic timbers. There is a market for quality timber for mouldings, turnery items and flooring, and one could possibly be developed for veneers.