America's most abundant hardwood species in demand

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Cove Lounge in red oak by Tom Fereday. Photo Tim Robinson

Data just released by the United States Department of Agriculture shows US hardwood timber exports to Australia increased by 22 per cent in 2023 to a value of US$21 million. Whilst American white oak continues to dominate, its lesser-known cousin, American red oak, has shown extraordinary growth over the 12-month period.

In 2023 Australia imported nearly 9000 cubic metres of red oak which is the most abundant species in the American hardwood forest. Readily available, and of a consistently high quality, red oak has similar characteristics to white oak in terms of strength and stability, but its more open grain means it is more suitable for staining which makes it a more versatile choice.

“We’ve had a significant amount of interest in red oak from the savvier specifiers in Australia recently. They recognise its quality and value and have anticipated the shift in demand resulting from the changes in native logging that came into force this year”, says Rod Wiles, Regional Director for the American Hardwood Export Council.

The new figures also show growth for other underutilised but available species including American cherry and American maple which have seen volume increase by 650% and 110% respectively.


Tom Fereday, Cove Lounge in red oak, detail. Photo Tim Robinson

“Australia and New Zealand remain important markets for us”, said Rod Wiles. “Not only does the demand continue to be strong but the importers, manufacturers, designers and architects appreciate the advantages and environmental credentials of US hardwoods.”

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is an international trade association for the US hardwood industry, representing exporters among US hardwood companies and all the major US hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide program to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets and provide end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources.


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