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From down under

Businesses appear to be coming back, but there’s no denying there’s been an impact. If you’ve bought wood lately, you know that.

Lumber and other building materials have gotten pricier over the last few months, but depending on where you shop the availability has been spotty. I tried to buy a 4x8 sheet of 1/4" plywood last week at my local Big Box, and they simply didn’t have any. Since I’d planned to cut it anyway, a few 2x4 sheets did the trick. (Even more expensive per square inch, however, due to the smaller size.) I also needed some clear 1-by pine, and while there was plenty in the racks I was surprised by the source.

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The price was higher than normal – par for the course lately – but where it came from piqued my interest. New Zealand? I didn’t even know they had pine trees there. I did some Googling, and it turns out that New Zealand has a healthy forest products industry. According to New Zealand’s official website, forest products are a $6 billion industry, and the small country’s third largest export.

And, while up to now they’ve exported mostly to that side of the planet – mainly Australia, China, Japan and Korea – clearly the pandemic’s impact on the Western Hemisphere has expanded their scope. This is a good thing.

Sure, I’d rather I was loading my car with U.S. forest products, but when domestically produced supplies run out I need to get wood no matter where it comes from. I’d rather eat dirt than buy some of the terrible wood typical of a lot of imported forest products, so it was a pleasant experience to find this. Not only was it high-quality pine lumber, it was there when I needed it.

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