Review of Taylor Guitars Fall 2014 Limited Edition models featuring Tasmanian blackwood and sassafras

Here’s a great review of three of the recently released limited edition models from Taylor Guitars featuring Tasmanian blackwood and sassafras.

Beautiful guitars from Taylor Guitars with tonewoods supplied by Tasmanian Tonewoods.

Sassafras as a tonewood will only ever be available on a limited basis due to it’s restricted distribution and slow growth rate. Blackwood however has huge potential as a sustainable, readily available tonewood due to its wide distribution and fast growth rate. Provided we can convince Tasmanian farmers to grow it.

Now how do we do that?

War and peace – and war again? The battle for Tasmania’s ancient forests

The Guardian



I sure do get tired of all the politics in this business. I wish I could just focus on good news stories but they are far outnumbered by stories of politics and conflict.

But this story in The Guardian is very well written, if a bit long. And it has a nice focus on the human aspect of the whole terrible ongoing battle.

Tasmania does not have a forest industry.

It has a war zone.

And all of this madness whilst the State forest management agency Forestry Tasmania remains technically bankrupt, and only able to survive by continuing taxpayer subsidies.

It’s a taxpayer subsidised war zone.

Enjoy the read.

Tasmania’s magnificent blackwoods

The forest industry TV series “Going Bush” offers a traditional view of the “public service/public forest” forest industry. It’s a view dominated by science and professionalism. In my view that is a very 19th century attitude to forestry that just doesn’t work in the 21st century.

As their website says:

The television show about our forests, the people who work in them and the industries they support. Going Bush is designed to be entertaining, informative and most of all give the proud and passionate people that work in our forest industries a voice, a chance to tell their stories.

This particular video on blackwood is an excerpt from Series 4 Episode 2 and comes from a few years ago.

The video showcases some of the issues around public native blackwood forest management and the blackwood industry. There is no doubt that Forestry Tasmania has contributed significantly to our understanding of native blackwood forest management, in the same way that New Zealand farmers and foresters have dominated research into successful commercial blackwood plantation management.

The video is a bit of forest industry propaganda that highlights the “good bits”. There is a “business-as-usual, everything is going really well, don’t you worry” persona about the video that hides the very real turmoil within the industry. Blackwood issues such as the overcutting and mismanagement of the public resource, taxpayer subsidies, the incessant politics and community conflict are conveniently ignored.

And as for the remark by the hosts near the end of the video that there will be “blackwood sawlogs for decades to come” that is a long way from the truth.

Apart from that it’s entertaining.


Continuing into the abyss

With resolute determination, precision and predictability the Tasmanian forest industry continues its long, slow, painful journey towards extinction with the dismantling of the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement 2013.

And despite numerous promises by the State Treasurer and the State Resources Minister to not continue using scarce Tasmanian taxpayers money to subsidise the logging of public native forest, that is exactly what has been announced for yet another year.

With no plan for the forest industry and no plan to change Forestry Tasmania into a fully commercial profitable Government Business Enterprise, there is now little hope for the future of the industry.

With the forestry wars resuming it is unlikely Forestry Tasmania will gain FSC certification. Not that it matters. Either way no one but the Chinese will buy Tasmanian forest products; and the Chinese will only buy if the Tasmanian taxpayer pays for the harvesting and transport.

It’s pretty much all over! There is nothing left but a whole lot more pain for the community to endure.

It’s now just a case of watching the last remaining customers close business – the sawmills, the furniture factories, the craft shops and retailers.

This is economic and commercial mismanagement that the Tasmanian economy can well do without. Private forest growers are just overwhelmed by the tidal wave of negative political and market sentiment.

New group looks to become Fonterra of forestry

Here’s a great story for all those 14,000 New Zealand farm forest growers with plantations coming due for harvesting. If this is successful it will revolutionise the already very successful New Zealand forest industry. Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner after dairy and meat. Last year’s total forestry exports were worth $NZ4.3 billion.

Yesterday a new forestry company, United Forestry Group, targeting owners of small forests in New Zealand was launched. Its cornerstone shareholder is a joint venture between international timber marketer Pentarch, which is headquartered in Melbourne and has been operating in New Zealand for more than 10 years, and a Chinese conglomerate, Xiangyu Group. The company’s offering small forest owners (there are around 14,000 forests under 1000 hectares which account for just over a third of New Zealand’s plantation resource) benefits similar to the pastoral sector’s co-operatives such as Fonterra in marketing and economies of scale.

It is believed production from New Zealand’s small forest growers over the next 20 years could be worth $NZ30 billion.

I wonder if the United Forestry Group will form sub-groups to offer these services to growers of other species besides Pinus radiata, such as blackwood? New Zealand blackwood growers would really benefit from such a service.

Those New Zealanders really do understand what forestry is all about.

I will be following this story closely over the coming years to see how it develops and keep readers informed. It’s good to have a good news story.


Important market update


Not many people would regard the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Bill 2014 currently before Tasmania’s Legislative Council as anything other than an act of belligerence.

The Bill provides privileged treatment for the so called special timbers industry. It effectively puts the special timbers industry above the law, subject to no effective planning, regulation or control.

The Bill gives anyone (excluding Forestry Tasmania) the opportunity to harvest special timbers from reserves, conservation areas and other public forest.

The Bill gives no consideration to commercial matters, profitability, sustainability or good forest management.

This will likely produce a special timbers free-for-all as everyone scrambles to take all the special timbers accessible from the existing road network, legally or otherwise. Never mind the land tenure, have ute and chainsaw – will harvest. Tasmanian sheds will be overflowing. A belligerent Government may well turn a blind eye.

This situation is already generating a swift, negative reaction from the Tasmanian community and the broader market. A consumer boycott of Tasmanian timbers including blackwood is almost inevitable.

This just arrived in the letterbox today so the community reaction is underway.

Special Timbers Protests

Special timbers events such as the Wooden Boat Festival and the Deloraine Stringfest will be particularly hard hit by the negative reaction.

The problem for my business is the there is no way for the market to distinguish between special timbers from private growers, and that harvested from public forest under this new legislation, or simply stolen.

Everyone in the special timbers industry will be significantly impacted, from sawmillers to merchants, craftspeople, and furniture and guitar makers all the way through to retailers.

The broader forest industry runs the very real risk that this issue wont be quarantined to just the special timbers industry, but will impact on the broader forest industry market. After all:

Forestry = politics = Tasmania!

Continuing to treat the special timbers industry as a taxpayer-funded sacred cow with free-reign to the public forest resource is guaranteed to turn very ugly. This has every chance of becoming Tasmania’s next forest industry disaster.

It will discourage existing and potential private special timbers growers from investing in the future of the industry. It is difficult to understand why the Government wants to destroy the iconic special timbers industry.


Deloraine Stringfest 2015

Planning is underway to include a visit to a successful private blackwood plantation as part of the Deloraine Stringfest in March 2015. Transport will be by bus so places will be limited. Your chance to see and learn the art of growing commercial blackwood. Details to follow.