Cutting Crew

Terry Oliver, a four-decade forestry veteran, has high hopes for the eucalyptus timber industry on the Big Island.

As the harvest operator and marketing manager for GMO Renewable Resources LLC in Hawaii, Oliver manages Tradewinds Forest Products LLC’s 13,800 acres of eucalyptus grandis, a hybrid developed to grow straight and tall quickly, Oliver said Wednesday.

More importantly, the tree stump sprouts after being cut down, growing big enough to harvest again after seven years, about the same amount of time Oliver estimated it would take the company to cut down the trees it now has. Already, some tree sprouts have shot up more than 20 feet since first being cut last year, and trees cut last spring are nearing 16 to 18 feet.

“There should never be an end because of the way they regrow themselves,” Oliver said. “It will be time to start over again.”

Oliver was hired a few months ago and began working at the site in November. It’s his job to help investors behind the project make money, eventually. It would be better sooner than later, he said, laughing a little.

“We’re quite proud of it actually, to come in and do this,” he said. “We’re going to be here.”

At the present logging site, not far from Honokaa, five workers harvest the timber. Since work began in the spring, the company has sent three ships, the most recent earlier this month with 6 million board feet of lumber, to Asia. Oliver said the larger logs are used for plywood core, while the smaller pieces, from the treetops, as well as the bark, can eventually be used to power energy generation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects the loads before the ships leave the country, he added.