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Advancing enhanced wood manufacturing industries in Laos and Australia

This project aims to help the Lao PDR and Australia to develop innovative wood processing industries to enhance markets for planted timber resources.
The Lao Government wants to develop a sophisticated wood processing industry, and have decreed that all types of wood must be turned into finished products that meet defined standards before they can be exported. This requires strong wood processing enterprises which can be created through capacity building, training and product development.
The Lao wood manufacturing industries are in their infancy compared to those in neighbouring countries. There are already some 215,000 hectares of planted teak, eucalyptus and acacia, for which there are limited markets, but the wood processing sector has not yet adopted new processing technologies widely used in Vietnam and China. Research is needed to develop both new processing capability and Engineered Wood Products that can be made from small diameter timbers. Locals do not know how to process wood for appearance, structural and housing construction purposes, or how to make timber products resistant to termites and decay. Further research is needed on the timber value chain between the plantation and the processing industry to ensure that wood is efficiently supplied and to support business cases for investing in new processing facilities.
Two previous ACIAR projects: FST/2005/100 'Value-adding to Lao PDR plantation timber products' (2007-11) and FST/2010/012 'Enhancing Key Elements of Value Chains for Plantation-Grown Wood in Lao PDR' (2012-16) have enhanced knowledge and capacity in wood science and processing and identified policy and administrative issues that impede the development of an efficient and competitive smallholder plantation sector and wood processing industry in Laos.
The smallholder plantation grown wood can be used to produce Engineered Wood Products for construction, furnishing and joinery markets in Laos and the region. The Australian industry is trying to add value to underused plantation resources, such as low grade pine and hardwoods grown for fibre.
This project will help the Lao and Australian forestry sectors to seize these opportunities.