NEARLY 4000 hectares of blue gum country with standing timber is up for sale around Cavendish, Coleraine and Balmoral.
Hamilton agent Landmark Harcourts is offering five properties on behalf of New Forests, which bought them from the failed Great Southern Group which planted the trees under a managed investment scheme.
They range from 407 to 1204 hectares, all with timber that will be sold unencumbered with the land.
“This is an unusual sale,” agent Philip Le Plastrier said.
“Most blue gum land is sold after the timber has been harvested.”
One of the properties — 617 hectares north-west of Cavendish with timber ready for harvest in June — will be auctioned on May 9.
The remaining blocks are for sale by expressions of interest. One has timber due for harvest in June 2015 while the other three are set for harvest in 2018 and 2019.
Mr Le Plastrier said the sales were being targeted at farmers in the area.
“We think that’s where the buyers will be found and we’re not promoting this nationally,” he said. Mr Le Plastrier said buyers of properties with the younger trees might choose to clear them rather than wait for harvest.
“It depends on the buyer — waiting for harvest is going to mean five years without any income so you would need the resources to allow that.”
He said recent sales of grazing land around the plantations had brought $3200 to $3700 per hectare.
He was unable to estimate the value of timber on any of the properties.
Reinstating land for grazing after harvest costs about $1600 per hectare. Buyers would need to assess whether the value of the timber would offset this cost.
Lismore timber producer Andrew Lang said to be viable, blue gums had to produce at least 12 cubic metres of timber per hectare for each year of growth. “Sixteen or 17 cubic metres is closer to what you need. Potential buyers would have to get an individual assessment,” Mr Lang said.
He said the market for blue gum chip was soft, with decreased demand from Japan.
“China is the other main market and they are very opportunistic buyers.”
Expressions of interest on the properties close on May 16.