Horses to hardwood

African Mahogany market potential


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NESTLED in the peaceful community of Majors Creek, just south of Townsville, lies a beautiful forest with untapped potential.

NESTLED in the peaceful community of Majors Creek, just south of Townsville, lies a beautiful forest with untapped potential.

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Margaret Cameron bought her neighbour’s property at Majors Creek last October and with it inherited the former owner’s African Mahogany plantation.

Mrs Cameron said she had lived in the area for 10 years and had been agisting horses on her original property, which also had a small sandalwood plantation.

When the opportunity arose to purchase the neighbouring 20 acres, she jumped at the chance.

“I thought it would be nice to have some say into who my neighbours were, so I bought the next 20 acres with about 330 mahogany trees on it,” she laughed.

African Mahogany grows well in North Queensland's climate.

African Mahogany grows well in North Queensland's climate.

”I have learned a lot in the last three months.”

Mrs Cameron said the property, which she named Khaya as it is the scientific name for mahogany, hosted a field day just three weeks after she took possession on October 31, which attracted about 25 interested residents from across the North.

She said she was continuously learning about the trees and believed they had great potential as an emerging industry in North Queensland.

Mrs Cameron said her trees were planted in 1996 and many were ready to be harvested.

“Some of them are very ready,” she said.

“The circumference is ample, it is mainly the ones on the outside that have the light.

“I have learned that in future plantings they should be planted further apart so there is less competition for sunlight, mine are about three or four metres and people are suggesting ten metres.”

Mrs Cameron said the trees had required very little upkeep to date.

“There was some modest pruning done early on, but no thinning for at least the last ten years, they have not been tendered at all.”

Mrs Cameron said it was suggested she could thin out some of the smaller ones, but would hold out until the co-op had investigated options for those thinnings.

“One of the main things is to try to use the whole tree, even the canopy at the top, whether it’s for biofuels, there are all sorts of options.

“I’m not pruning until I know the possible outcomes for the waste.”

Mrs Cameron said while she had encountered issues with boarer in her sandalwood, there seemed to be not such issues with the African Mahogany.

“The mahogany sounds like a wonderful timber,” she said.

“I do see the potential provided there is a reliable market, because people won’t plant plantations if there is no reliable market.

“I think that’s probably why there’s been no new plantings for many years, because there has not been the market.”

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