Huge Breakthrough: Researchers Produce Cypress Pine Plywood

Commercial success for Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and key industry stakeholders including Big River Group, Eco Cottages and Vic's Timber

Thu 08 Jun 23


Last month saw the first commercial production of cypress pine plywood. This has been biggest innovation in the cypress industry for many decades.

It is a direct result of research undertaken by the DAF Forest Products Innovation team based at the Salisbury Research Facility combined with a couple of innovative businesses within the industry.

Cypress pine has a long history of utilisation in Australia, especially providing naturally durable and termite-resistant framing material for housing and other construction. With the implementation of the plantation pine sector, the cypress industry lost much of this market. However, cypress continues to supply many markets with timber products from this unique species.

“As far as I am aware, cypress pine has never been able to be rotary peeled, preventing the manufacture of engineered wood products such as plywood and LVL,” Dr Rob McGavin said.

This is due mainly to the small log size and propensity to split, characteristics that limit the use of traditional veneering equipment.”

Dr McGavin said adopting spindleless veneering technologies, a major research focus of the DAF Forest Products Innovation team for more than a decade, opened many opportunities for under-utilized resources to be more efficiently processed, including cypress pine.

In a recently completed DAF, FWPA and industry collaborative research project led by Dr. McGavin, opportunities to veneer process cypress pine (along with other under-utilized forest resources) and the manufacture of possible engineered wood products were investigated. This included semi-industrial processing trials at the DAF Salisbury Research Facility and pilot commercial-scale trials with project partner Big River Group, based at Grafton, NSW.

Bill Leggate, forest products team leader, DAF Salisbury Research Facility, Greg Phipps, Eco-Cottages, and Dr Rob McGavin, project manager, Ag-Science Queensland, DAF.

The positive learnings and outcomes from the project have caught the eye of several industry innovators, one of which is Greg Phipps of Eco Cottages at Cooroy in Queensland’s Noosa hinterland, who is a strong advocate for cypress pine and a keen adopter of innovation.

Combining the two traits was a perfect storm!

Fast forward a couple of years and last week saw the completion of the first full commercial production run of cypress pine plywood.

Vic Gersekowski of Vic’s Timber and son Ben Gersekowski inspect cypress pine rotary veneer at the DAF Salisbury Research Facility.

A three-way collaboration between long-time cypress sawmiller Vic Gersekowski of Vic’s Timber at Cecil Plains, Jason Blanch, Big River Group, Grafton, and Greg Phipps, EcoCottages at Cooroy made it all possible.

The manufactured plywood will be used in the construction of Eco Cottage’s pre-fabricated modular homes. 

Wood Central will expand on this story after interviews with the three key players behind this exciting innovation for cypress and engineered wood production.

Big River Group began in the early 1900s as a family-owned timber business. Today, it has advanced and established a position as a major Australian building materials distributor, supplying an extensive range of high-quality timber, building hardware, building supplies and services for the residential, commercial, industrial, building and construction industries.

Eco Cottages, established in 2007, manufactures high quality, innovative, sustainable modular homes.

Greg Phipps says using cypress, a natural sustainable renewable resource, he aims to champion cypress as a ‘first-choice’ sustainable building product for the construction industry.

The company is delivering its mission through modern methods of construction and the integration of the core principles of sustainability, biophilic and universal design, zero net energy, circular economy and design for easy disassembly.

Both Eco-Cottages and Big River Group continue to collaborate with the DAF Forest Products Innovation team exploring new opportunities for sustainable, low embodied energy engineered wood products.

Cypress profile

Cypress woodlands and open forests in Queensland generally have white cypress (Callitris glaucophylla or coastal cypress (c. intratropicae) as the dominant tree species, either in pure stands or in a mixture with eucalyptus Angophora or Corymbia species.

The trees range in height from 10 m to 30 m and the canopy cover can vary from 20-80 %. The ground layer can be grassy or shrubby. Mosses and lichens may be abundant and diverse, either growing on the trees or in the soil crust.

Some of the more common and widespread tree species associated with Callitris sp. are silver-leaved ironbark (E. melanophloia), narrow-leaved ironbark (E. crebra), rusty gum (Angophora leiocarpa), Corymbia clarksoniana, and Moreton Bay ash (Corymbia tessellaris).


  • Jim Bowden

    Jim Bowden, senior editor and co-publisher of Wood Central. Jim brings 50-plus years’ experience in agriculture and timber journalism. Since he founded Australian Timberman in 1977, he has been devoted to the forest industry – with a passion.


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