Fires cost Border dearly

Roadwin Chirara

BORDER Timbers has lost a total of 4 000 hectares of timber to arson since 2002, a development that has negatively impacted on the availability of matured timbers on its plantations.
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The situation has resulted in the company resorting to the importation of matured timber to meet market demand.


In the period under review ending June 30, Border Timbers said it had been subject to a total of 75 fires of which 93% were arson.


The company said its investment in fire-fighting equipment had significantly reduced the severity of the fires on its plantations.


Border Timbers had previously made a provision of over $3 billion towards the acquisition of fire-fighting equipment in the previous financial year.


“The fires are continuing into the new financial year, the acquisition of state-of-the-art fire trucks, rapid response strike units and specialised small tools has significantly enhanced fire-fighting capabilities in the group and has prevented a potential catastrophe in the plantations,” the company said.


It added that it had projected to meet its planting target in the coming financial year as the dry weather had affected its previously set targets.


“Pruning and thinning to waste operations achieved the targets of the year. However, the planting programme was not met because of the dry weather conditions experienced in Chimanimani,” said the company.


Border Timbers said continued erratic power suppliers had affected the production at most of its mills which in turn impacted on market supply.


“All three mills operated under outrageous erratic power supply, specifically in the latter part of the year. This impact was most pronounced at Charter and Tilbury sawmills,” the company said.


Border Timbers International operations were affected by the pricing pressure arising from the increased competition from Chinese exports to its United States market.


“The Chinese have entered the USA market and are putting pressures on prices. In the last quarter of the financial year, a new product was successfully marketed in the United Kingdom and orders are set to improve if deliveries meet the customers’ expectations,” said the company.


“Prices for this particular market in the UK are generally better than those achieved in the USA,” the company said.