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Environment and History

Forest Conservation and the Reciprocal Timber Trade between New Zealand and New South Wales, 1880s-1920s

Brett J. Stubbs

Environment and History 14(2008): 469-95. doi: 10.3197/096734008X368402

A substantial inter-colonial timber trade between hardwood-scarce New Zealand and softwood-scarce New South Wales developed in the late nineteenth century. The northern coastal area of New South Wales, that colony's main timber-producing district, supplied mainly ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata, E. crebra and E. siderophloia) for use in New Zealand's railways, bridges and wharves. North-eastern New South Wales was also that colony's most important dairying district, and kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), a New Zealand softwood timber, was imported for the manufacture of butter boxes. The magnitude of this two-way trade created domestic timber shortages on both sides of the Tasman Sea, and stimulated conservation efforts from the early years of the twentieth century. Anticipated shortages of kahikatea also forced the New South Wales dairying industry to seek alternatives, including the arguably less suitable indigenous hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), for its butter boxes.


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