Teak Tree Facts
What are the properties of teak that make it valuable?
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis.
Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, (mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar), but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including Africa the Caribbean and Brazil.
- Tectona grandis is a large, deciduous tree that grows up to 40 m (131 ft) tall.
- The trunk is free of branches to about 80 feet and this is what is used for commercial lumber.
- It is found in a variety of habitats and climatic conditions from arid areas with only 500 mm of rain per year to very moist forests with up to 5,000 mm of rain per year. Typically, though, the annual rainfall in areas where teak grows averages 1,250-1,650 mm with a 3-5 month dry season.
- Teak contains a natural oil (silica) which makes the timber;-
- Resistant to rotting and to the effects of hot sun, rain, frost or snow.
- Resistant to termite and pests
- Hard to burn, reducing the risk of being destroyed by fire.
- Teak is durable even when not treated with oil or varnish.
- Teak has high carbon sequestration: Carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the wood at very high levels.
Valued as a durable construction timber, teak is coveted worldwide. It’s extremely high dimensional stability and aesthetic qualities keep it in high demand for shipbuilding, laminates and fine furniture manufacturing. Teak is also well suited to applications that require a strong, stable, durable hardwood such as door and window frames.
As the sustainable supply of teak from natural forests in Asia diminishes, demand for teak will be met through the production of plantation-grown teak.
Brazil has government programmes in place to encourage reforestation through plantation programmes as there are a number of benefits;
- Investor makes a profit,
- New jobs are created,
- Land is reclaimed,
- There are long-lasting environmental benefits from tropical wood binding of carbon dioxide.
Teak cultivation has been researched in Brazil since 1960 and best-practice techniques for producing high-quality plantation teak are well documented. Teak is relatively easy to cultivate, has excellent growth rates, and provides a lucrative return, it is very suitable as a plantation timber species in areas with appropriate ecological conditions.
What is the current world demand for timber (and in particular teak)?
In 2009 according to the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) India imported 87,290 m3 of sawn wood and China imported over 7 million m3. The ITTO also reported in 2003 that the supply of hardwood timber from natural tropical forests exceeded 100 million m3 per year.
What is the value of teak?
Open market value of Teak has steadily increased over the past 20 years, currently ranging from $1,000/m3 to $4,000/m3 grade dependent. This is one of the most valuable woods in the timber market. According to the International Tropical Timber Organisation, Teak price has grown 8.58% per annum from 1997 – 2007.
What is the projected value of teak?
Teak prices are predicted to continually grow mainly due to increased global demand and a decreased supply of quality timber.
Increased global government restrictions placed on the cutting of natural growth forests has created a strong world demand for quality Teak timber. It is expected that the government will continue to restrict deforestation practices, eventually prohibiting all cutting of natural forests. This will surely increase the prices of plantation Teak timber. The expected cubic meter value at each scheduled thinning / harvest has been calculated utilizing a moderate 3.0% annual increase in already conservative Teak timber prices… The market trend since 1972 has averaged more than 5.5%
How are teak plantations managed?
Teak plantation management regimes vary between and within countries, mainly according to site-specific conditions and prevailing markets. Typically, however, it is recommended that initial stocking rates be in the range of 1 000 to 2 000 stems per hectare to allow for early mortality rates and to provide an opportunity for selecting the better individuals during thinning operations.
Partially depending on the intensity of planting, an initial thinning should be considered as soon as the branches start to make contact with those of surrounding trees; this may occur when the plantation is around four to five years old and the intensity of removals may be as high as 50 percent of the initial stocking. A production thinning may follow at about age ten to 15, and a final production thinning at around 15 to 20 years. Again depending on market requirements and other factors, an ideal final stocking is likely to be around 200 to 300 stems per hectare, or approximately some 300 m3 of wood.
Management practices may vary significantly, however, depending on whether teak is grown on short or long rotations.
Excerpted from Unasylva, An international journal of forestry and forest industries.