Rebuilding work in Japan following this year’s earthquake has boosted New Zealand’s wood-based panel exports.

New Zealand’s wood-based panel exports to Japan accounted for 48.2% of total panel exports in the June to April quarter and up from 40% a year ago, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Exports to Japan of fibreboard, plywood and chipboard were also up.

“Demand from Japan is expected to be strong over the year, as the rebuild of affected areas gathers momentum,” said Andrew Doube, the ministry’s acting manager of sector infrastructure.

Sawn timber production in New Zealand fell 7.8% to 990,000m³. The earthquakes in Canterbury have so far had no discernable effect on total sawn timber production figures, but demand is expected to lift once the rebuild of affected areas commences.