Flip the Thinking of Domestic Timber – A Case of Acacia Confusa

Flip the Thinking of Domestic Timber – A Case of Acacia Confusa

Yang Wen Chi(China Productivity Center Smart Agriculture Promotion Department)

30 Years Missing in Forestry

A huge wave of forest conservation movement surged in the late 1980s with a campaign of signed petitions and a series of media reports on the exploitation of the original forests in the Danda Forest Area. The government then announced a complete ban on logging of natural forests in 1992. The rising environmental concerns and the associated negative perception of "logging" has also laid invisible risks for the future development of domestic forestry.

Taiwan has abundant forest resources, with a forest coverage rate of 60%, far above the global average, but the self-sufficiency rate of domestic timber is only 1%. The annual 6 million cubic meters of domestic timber consumption almost depends on imported products. In order to increase the self-sufficiency rate, the Forestry Bureau of COA designated 2017 as the "Domestic Timber Year One", hoping to raise the self-sufficiency rate to 5% within 10 years. However, the previous ban has stagnated domestic forestry for 30 years, causing a huge gap in the development of relevant talents and technologies, and a subsequent high cost of production and low compatibility against imported timber.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has severely impacted the global economy and caused shocks to the global supply chain. However, the crisis just happened to be an opportunity as the sharp rise in international timber prices gave the domestic timber a chance to emerge again.

Acacia Confusa - An important domestic timber

When it comes to domestic timber, Acacia Confusa cannot be neglected. In the former logging sites in natural forests, on the 430,000 hectares of artificial forest of the Forestry Bureau, conifers and broad-leaved trees account for 40% and 60% respectively, and most broad-leaved trees are Acacia Confusa.

Acacia Confusa has the following advantages so as to be listed as a main item in the promotion of afforestation policy:

Fast growth and hard texture: Acacia Confusa grows faster than other tree species, and can be logged for use in six to ten years. The density can reach more than 0.7 g/cm3, making it a high-quality hard wood.

Nitrogen-fixing ability: Acacia Confusa is of the Fabaceae species. The root nodules formed on its roots and the symbiotic rhizobia have good nitrogen-fixing ability. It is the most adaptable nitrogen-fixing tree species among short-rotation species.

Strong environmental adaptability: Acacia Confusa is wind-and-drought resistant, and grows well even in barren environments. It is distributed in foothill zones and suitable for large-scale planting, which largely reduces logging costs.

High carbon storage: Acacia Confusa has high carbon storage potential and good energy output efficiency. According to the results of the Fourth Taiwan Forest Resources Survey, Acacia Confusa has the highest carbon dioxide storage among broad-leaved trees.

Flip the Thinking of Domestic Timber Uses – Diverse Uses of Acacia Confusa

Acacia Confusa has spiral grains. The beautiful wood grains also mean it is easy to bend and deform. It cannot grow as straight and tall as tree species in medium- and high-elevation areas. It is therefore often regarded as a miscellaneous species and used mostly as fuel charcoal or broken into pieces to produce container bags. However, with its hard texture, vivid and unique grains, elegant color and high carbon storage capacity, Acacia Confusa should possess higher economic value. Therefore, in recent years, the industry and academia experts are studying to seek breakthrough with the problem of its deformation after being processed, and developing more economic uses.

Gao Sen Establishment Co., Ltd., specialized in development of domestic materials, is an exemplary case of industry-academia collaboration. Based on academic research on the processing of Acacia Confusa, Gao Sen has successively developed bathtubs, chairs, musical instruments, floors and other products. The exquisite design and the skillful craftsmanship have combined to turn the furniture into works of art. In an international business fair, an Acacia Confusa bathtub caught the eye of a buyer from Dubai, who offered to buy it at US$100,000.

And they don't waste any remnants after making the large products. "Egg Design" is a subsidiary of Gao Sen specialized in developing diverse products of Acacia Confusa. This new brand adopts innovation to launch astonishing new products from time to time. They make the best use of the materials with no wastes at all.

With the hard texture of Acacia Confusa, a caramel fragrance is released when the wood is being sawed by the blade. They came up with the idea to put these small Acacia pieces into barrel for brewing. So "Acacia Craft Beer" was born, as one of the most creative and iconic products of Egg Design. There is also the idea of ​​making raw lacquer cups for the wine, creating higher added values to these remnants as "innovative added-value".

Egg Design is now entering the sports and leisure industry. Since almost all the table tennis paddles on the market are made of imported wood materials, some Egg Design staff members who are table tennis fans and even certified coaches came up with the idea to produce paddles using Acacia Confusa. For promotion, Egg Design sends sample paddles to many table tennis arenas for free trial. The arenas may decide to distribute the paddles and even recommend talented players to receive sponsorship, for the "common interests" of both parties. Another strategy is to have the product introduced through the out-of-the-box videos on Youtube. These promotion strategies have won highly favorable response for the paddles made of Acacia Confusa, making it a main product in the line. In addition, there are products like softball bats, skateboards, baseball caps, etc., which help customers get more familiar with products made of domestic materials, and render stronger support to the domestic products.

The sustained development of the supply chain of domestic wood materials requires balanced development in planting, processing and application. To maintain a sustainable production chain, Gao Sen Establishment Co., Ltd. continuously explores possible uses of Acacia Confusa and make purchase of it at prices higher than those in the market. Each batch of purchased wood is numbered for traceability. And the principle is strictly followed to plant a tree for each one logged, so that the application of domestic timber will go a long ever-lasting way.