Split Pale Fence
All trees used to manufacture our products are harvested from Commercial and Agroforestry plantations on private land.
Sugar Gum Eucalyptus Cladocalyx
Beginning in 2021, Wattle&Wire pl started carriing out trials using platation Sugar Gum to produce split pale fence. It quickly became evident that this species does not split well, producing a straight but very rough split surface. Nevertheless, the timber is highly durable and showed signs of being relitively stable if sawn. As a result Sugar Gum is now regularily used to produce fences and we have entred into an agreement with a plantation manager to supply Sugar Gum of the right specification.
Bannockburn Sugar Gum and Wattle&Wire pl.
In 2022, Wattle&Wire entred into an agreement with the Ballarat Environmment Network, (BEN) to harvest Sugar Gum from their plantation at Bannockburn west of Geelong.
Ballarat Envioronment Network manages some 800Ha of small parks and reserves on behalf of the Victorian Government throughout the western district of Victoria. These include small, abandoned school sites, public recreational and nature reserves along with road reserves and small blocks of public land.
The 400Ha Bannockburn reserve includes a mix of indgenous native vegetation and a substantial mixed species plantation, planted some 70 years ago following the extraction of gravel from the site.
BEN uses the proceeds from the sale of wood from the plantation to finance restoration programs and management of the Bannockbrun reserve as well as other reserves in its remit.
The plantation comprises several areas of tree plantings including Swamp Mallet, Iron Bark and Grey Box but the largest area is planted to Sugar Gum. Harvested for firewood production in the past, the Sugar Gum trees have never been thinned or coppiced and therefore most trees have multiple small diameter trunks which are of little value in the mainstream timber processing system.
With the imminent closure of native forest logging, many Sugar Gum plantations in the western district of Victoria, where Sugar Gum thrives have been identified as sustainable sources of durable timber products, historically supplied by our native forests.
Many of the plantations have been negtected or just managed for firewood production so the trees require thinning and felling to encouage new growth which can then be managed to produce higher value saw logs and poles. The high cost of thinning and felling is a barrier to the transition to a higher value forest, especially as the value of the wood produced in the thinning does not often cover the cost of the thinning operation.
Wattle&Wire pl uses small diameter logs to produce fences. Sugar Gum is highly durable and makes very good pales for our fences. We pay a royalty to BEN for the logs which meet our specification. We then fell the remaining timber, leaving the best stems to grow on as saw log or pole. The tree density is reduced by 50% to encourage faster growth and the timber left lying on the ground is sold by BEN as "help yourself" firewood to the local community.
For Wattle&Wire this is a win all around. It returns a forest to its full productive potential quickly, provides income for the ongoing management of the plantation and adjoining indigenous forest with a promise of greater returns in future. It provides a valuable resource to the local community in firewood while still preserving the recreational and ecological values of the park and Wattle&Wire pl can provide even more durable products to our customers.
Black Wattle Acaccia Mearnsii
In the past in Australia, Black Wattle, which is the predominant species used in split pale fence was important as a source of tannin for the leather industry and fire wood for bakers ovens. More recently it has become a species with little if no commercial value and in commercil forestry is often regarded as a weed.
Black Wattle achieves its best form when grown as a companion plant amongst higher value trees such as eucalypts, where in competition for light it grows tall and straight. It is naturally an understorey species and as an acacia, it is a nitrogen fixer.
It is a small to medium quick growing Australian tree with a short life of generally not more than 50 years with a mature tree being around 20 to 30 years old.
Grown commercially in other parts of the world for timber, wood chips, shade and shelter and erosion control, Black Wattle is the only Australian acacia grown commercially and is the world's predominat source of tannins, used in industry, medicines and adhesives. The leather industry is a big user of tannins from Black wattle as is the engineered timber industry where Black Wattle Tannin extract is used in the production of high strength water proof adhesives.
Black Wattle bark extracts are extremely versatile. The tannin polimer can be used to produce plastics, paints, adhesives, viscosity reducers for the minning and china industries, floculents for water treatment, anti oxident animal feed suppliments, timber preservatives and a great deal of reasurch is going into the phamacutical applications of Black Wattle tannin. Unfortunatly Australia is not involved.
In much of Australia, Black Wattle and its close relative, Silver Wattle are regarded as weeds and it is much maligned by the forestry industry and farmers who both spend a lot of money removing it with whatever means available.
After extensive research in setting up Wattle and Wire, Black Wattle was selected from a number of species as the tree most suited to the production of split pale fence. It splits well, barks easily, has a consistent trunk diameter, is reasonably durable when mature, grows quickly, performs well amongst other species and is abundant though not always in good form and reasonably accessable.
It is a complementary species which will grow happily among eucalypts and even pines and has the capacity to provide the Agroforestry sector with a secondary and supplementary income before the main crop is harvested. This means more trees in the environment with multi-level plantations; an income from the understorey as well as the over-storey.
We selectively harvest the trees with care, leaving smaller trees to grow on and larger trees as seed, food and habitat trees. There will always be wattles left to continue fixing nitrogen in the soil at the end of our harvesting and some gentle encouragement to the farmer to consider re-planting or regeneration.