SOFTWOOD product prices fell in the March quarter, along with wood production and construction of new houses, according to consulting firm URS.

There were wide-ranging price declines, particularly in structural grades MGP10 (Machine Graded Pine) and MGP12, plywood and laminated veneer lumber (LVL), said URS in its March quarter timber survey.

Residential housing, a strong driver of demand for timber products, continued to struggle.

The value of dwelling approvals fell by 7.1 per cent in the quarter, while residential alterations and additions approvals decreased by 6.4 per cent.

The high value of the Australian dollar - which has ranged between US99¢ and $US1.09 since the start of the year - boosted the competitiveness of wood-product imports.

The share of softwood timber imports from New Zealand and Europe fell by 16 and 7 per cent respectively in the March quarter. At the same time, softwood imports from Canada and the US rose respectively by 58 and 55 per cent.

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