REDWOOD COULD SUPPLANT WRC
US-born Wade Cornell (pictured) has been rattling cages in ‘down under’ forestry and horticulture for almost 30 years – not least with his unshakeable belief that locally grown redwood of the right strain can out-perform western red cedar.
Cornell, who now lives between homes in New Zealand and Australia, has invested heavily through his company Diversified Forests Ltd in genetic research and redwood plantings (among many other species) in both countries.
As with western red cedar (WRC), redwood is more a construction than a structural timber, and the giant old growth trees were used in preference to WRC. But North American architects moved to WRC over second-growth redwood when they did not perform as well as the ‘originals’.
“Now, we have come full circle to where all the old-growth WRC is also almost gone, and the second growth is not very good,” says Cornell.
“This leaves an interesting gap in the market for lightweight, durable and stable timbers. And the good part about redwood is that it offers the potential through cloning to create a [genotype] that is strictly durable and stable, and better than currently available WRC.”
Although there are extensive redwood plantings in Australasia, Cornell doubts they will be of much value because of inappropriate clone selection.
The full story about Wade Cornell’s attitude to “cookie-cutter forestry” and his work on the development of proven-performance, plantation-grown species such as redwood and Australian white cedar will feature in the June edition of timber+DESIGN. Subscribe now for the printed edition.