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Vale Graeme Black

30 November 2023
The global forest industry is mourning the loss of a true visionary after the passing of Graeme Black.

Described by Eileen Newbury, former FWPA Head of Marketing and Communication, “as a beautiful and kind man with such vision,” company directors Lignor, Peter Burton and Steve Baldwin are remembering him for his “intellectual curiosity, kindness and resolve.”

Mr Black, CEO and major shareholder of Lignor was a former director of family-owned Craigpine Timber Ltd NZ and Simmonds Lumber Pty Ltd and will leave an indomitable mark on all around him. His family was a significant shareholder in the first plant in New Zealand to produce the market-disrupting product, MDF, before selling the plant to Carter Holt Harvey in the early 1980s.

Driven by a commitment to environmental change, he was an entrepreneur ahead of his time. In 1987, Craigpine Timber voluntarily stopped milling NZ native forest well before it was legally protected. A decade later, in 1997, he successfully pushed for Craigpine Timber – which exports radiata pine to 22 global markets – including Norway, Estonia, Latvia and other European countries, to become the first company in Australasia to achieve FSC certification.

That is, two years before PEFC was invented and several years before FSC established an office in Australia and New Zealand! In 2007, he was instrumental in adopting DNA tracking technology to demonstrate that timber was legal – to prove the tropical hardwood Merbau could be sustainably harvested from Indonesia.

According to Kevin Hill, founder of Double Helix Tracking Technologies, “Graeme was instrumental in getting genetic-based timber traceability off the ground.” Mr Black also spent 16 years building up Lignor. a new and patented timber stranding technology developing one of the world’s strongest portfolios of engineered wood products (EWP) from sustainable and certified eucalyptus hardwood.

For more information about the history of the Black Family and Graeme Black’s involvement and impact on the timber industry, visit the “ Lignor website.

The Lignor team advised that after Mr Black’s passing, the management team would be changing. In a media release, they said, “he will always be remembered as the heart of the business.” They said, “He brought to the team a vast experience in business and a pioneering spirit that inspired us all every day,” before continuing that “Graeme will be greatly missed by colleagues, friends and loved ones.”

Source: Wood Central, Lignor

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