New Taylor 300 Series solid Tasmanian blackwood


After years of waiting Taylor Guitars have finally included Tasmanian blackwood into their standard line of guitars!!

This is the first time a major international guitar manufacturer has incorporated Tasmanian blackwood into its standard production.

This is farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood.


Taylor Guitars master guitar designer Andy Powers explains why the refinements applied to the new Taylor 300 Series make the guitars the most dynamically responsive, expressive instruments the series has ever offered. He also talks about the addition of Tasmanian blackwood to the series…

…. and why it’s one of his all-time favorite tonewoods, from its warmth and dynamic range to its sustainable sourcing outlook.

You can’t ask for a better recommendation than that now can you?

Nonetheless, blackwood has been attracting an ever-growing following among guitar makers and players. The supply is also sustainable, with a healthy sourcing outlook for the future.

Ok that’s enough! You can stop now!!

The 300 series are Taylor’s lowest price solid wood guitars.

How do you introduce a relatively new unknown tonewood into the American market?

You bring it out at a low price so the market is better able to experience the magic of Tasmanian blackwood.

My only request to Andy Powers!

Please also include Tasmanian blackwood as a top wood option in the 300 series!!!

Please let us have a Taylor 300 that speaks 100% Tasmanian blackwood.

Now we want guitar buyers to stampede these new Tasmanian blackwood models from Taylor guitars.

Tasmanian blackwood – the profitable, sustainable quality tonewood.


Lapoinya and Forestry Tasmania profitability and commercial management


Here’s a great video interview with economics commentator John Lawrence who has been following the mismanagement of Forestry Tasmania for a very long time.

His comments relate somewhat to the current conflict around the logging at Lapoinya in north west Tasmania. But much of his observations relate to FTs general business operations.

I have two comments to make in relation to what Mr Lawrence has to say:

  1. John talks about FT profitability and covering the costs of harvesting and overheads. But the discussion is almost as if the objective is to breakeven. Forestry is a business! It’s about making profits NOT breaking even!! I think the best analogy is to remember that FT competes in the marketplace with private forest growers. And private forest growers do not grow trees in order to break even. They grow trees so they can make a profit. They grow trees so they can put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Forestry Tasmania needs to be run just like the private businesses against which it competes. Forestry Tasmania needs to set commercial performance objectives and meet them ever year without fail!
  2. Later in the interview John Lawrence talks about selling our native forest wood as if it were all special species. It’s about marketing and product placement. Every single log needs to achieve top dollar. It’s a great idea. I remember making the same recommendation 25 years ago to a meeting at FT. The FT senior managers at the meeting laughed at the idea.

But it’s way too late!

The forest industry should have been reformed along commercial lines back in the mid 1980s when the Hawke-Keating economic reforms were in progress. But the forest industry refused to reform. By my reckoning the last chance the forest industry had to reform was during the RFA process in the late 1990s. But once again the forest industry resisted change.

And now it’s too late!

The public native forest industry is all but gone. Decades of politics, conflict and waste have driven the industry to the point of extinction.

Any idea that there is still something that can be rescued is pure delusion.

Forestry Tasmania is now just a political play thing. A toy to help win the next State election.

The problem for Tasmania is that no politician has the courage to face the truth.

Deloraine Stringfest Update

Stringfest Logo

The Deloraine Stringfest Facebook page Wednesday announced there would be no festival this year.

We are currently reviewing our options and dates for 2017.

That’s a shame.

Looking back at my comments on last year’s festival I still think those comments remain relevant.

Developing a broader audience from the non-musical side of the festival, so that the festival lives up to its objectives (and avoids becoming yet another music festival) is essential – but problematic!

Given the highly contentious and politicised nature of anything forestry related in Tasmania, putting more of the Festival focus on timber, timber growing and timber craftsmanship becomes difficult.

Where does the wood come from? Public native forest, World Heritage Area, lake salvage, farm salvage, commercial private grower??

Is the wood certified? Is it sustainable? Is it profitable?

All of this immediately generates tension and conflict because so many people have such a wide diversity of opinions and expectations.

How can the Festival navigate this social, political and economic minefield and survive?

But for the Festival to live up to its objectives that is exactly what it must do:

The Aims of Deloraine StringFest Tasmania are:

  • To present a festival of stringed instruments, showcasing Tasmanian luthiers, Tasmanian tone-woods and instruments;
  • To recognise Tasmanian instrumentalists and provide a social gathering for musicians, both professional and amateur;
  • To highlight the craft of luthiers and the pre-eminence of Tasmanian timbers used world-wide to create quality crafted stringed instruments; and
  • To provide ongoing recognition of Deloraine as a centre for craft and arts excellence.


The Festival must lead to the future and not be bound by the forest policies, practices and conflicts of the past.

A part of that future is profitable, sustainable farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood.

2015 The Year in Review


It’s time to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season, and to recap on another year in the Tasmanian special timbers industry.

Another year with little progress getting Tasmanian farmers growing commercial blackwood, or in getting the various players in the blackwood market to open up and help rebuild the blackwood industry.

The forest industry continues to be overwhelmed by negative sentiment and politics.

The Good:


The Deloriane Stringfest 2015 was a quieter affair than 2014. The promise and potential of 2014 just didn’t seem to carry on this year. Still waiting to see if it’s on again in 2016.

Leonardo Guitar Research Project

A great project run by a group in Europe looking at promoting the use of non-tropical woods in guitars.

Time will tell what impact the project will have on the blackwood tonewood market.

Timber price lists

I was initially unwilling to investigate retail timber prices, but once I started……

Retail timber prices are hard to find on the internet. Few companies advertise their prices. Nevertheless retail pricing provides many interesting insights into why the forest industry is in such trouble.

Firstly is the general lack of transparency in timber pricing. Secondly is the frequent lack of relationship between price and the cost of growing the wood – the “cost of time”. And thirdly is the impact of the “salvage” and “public native forest” prices that undermine attempts at profitable tree growing.

One major outcome from my investigations is to highlight the high prices for premium timber. Select blackwood at $7,500 per cubic metre must provide some interest and incentive to existing and potential blackwood growers! The downside is other retailers selling the same wood for $2,500 per cubic metre. The latter is a guaranteed way to destroy the blackwood industry.

I will continue my retail price investigations in 2016. Stay tuned!

Blackwood in Western Australia

This was the great surprise for the year. Finding that commercial blackwood can be grown successfully in Margaret River in Western Australia is nothing short of a small miracle. Hopefully 2016 will see this story develop further.


I’m putting the Hydrowood project into the positive list as I’m hoping it will provide much needed market profile, transparency and tradability. It provides an opportunity for the special timbers industry to demonstrate some commercial muscle. Yes there are downside risks with the project, not the least of which will be flooding the market with premium blackwood.

The first Hydrowood tender put 21 cubic metres of premium blackwood logs onto the market, with the plain grain logs selling for an average $625 per cubic metre! This was an excellent result for the first tender and attracted a great deal of interest.

The next 12 months will be very interesting indeed!


The Not So Good:

World Heritage logging and the TWWHA Management Plan Review

The push by both major political parties in Tasmania to open the WHA to taxpayer-funded special timbers logging has been the main story for 2015.

It’s completely insane but this is Tasmania!

The UNESCO delegation recently visited Tasmania to get the local picture. No doubt they left here wondering what strange pathology inflicts this island state.

From what I’ve heard through my contacts I doubt whether UNESCO will support logging the WHA.

It will be entertaining to see how the politicians attempt to rescue their integrity.

(Yet another) Special Timbers Management Plan

The State Government (not Forestry Tasmania) is putting together yet another Special Timbers Management Plan to add to the other ST plans already on the shelf down at the State library. And like all the previous plans it will be a complete folly.

But wait! It’s not due to be released until 2017!! Just in time to ensure special timbers becomes a State election issue.

Groundhog Day in the Tasmanian special timbers industry!

Everything Forestry Tasmania

The Government forest agency and the public native forest resource continue to be the centre of forest policy, conflict and waste in Tasmania. They are the fundamental focus that drives the industry into decline.

Forestry Tasmania is bankrupt, selling what few remaining assets it has and dumping staff as quickly as possible. But the political rhetoric is all about building/saving the industry.

The sooner this charade ends the better it will be for Tasmania.

FSC certification

Forestry Tasmania’s application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification process has been a sham from both FT and the auditors point of view. Apparently engagement, transparency and deadlines are completely irrelevant in the FSC process. A year has passed with absolutely no word from either FT or the auditors (SCS Global Services). It’s pathetic!


I can’t imagine a more hostile political and business environment for a forest industry than in Tasmania. On almost a weekly basis the Tasmanian media broadcasts to the world how dysfunctional our politically driven forest industry really is.

Lack of Leadership

One of the main failings of the forest industry in Tasmania is the lack of leadership.

FIAT has traditionally “represented” the industry but the organisation is dominated by sawmillers and wood processors. There is no one representing private forest growers; and private growers have very different interests to wood processors.

The TFGA, as the major farming lobby in Tasmania, occasionally wades into the forestry debate but with no policy platform they more often than not shoot themselves and private growers in the foot.

So politicians and sawmillers are left to dominate the forestry debate.

The forest industry in Tasmania won’t develop until private tree growers have a strong, independent voice.

The only way to have a successful forest industry is for tree growing to be transparently profitable. No other business model will work.

Crystal ball

One really doesn’t need a crystal ball to see what 2016 will bring. Every day is Groundhog Day for the forest industry in Tasmania.

Forestry Tasmania will most likely fail in its first attempt at FSC Certification. This will result in much agitation, shouting and finger-pointing in State Parliament and sections of the community.

UNESCO will most likely reject the proposal to log the World Heritage Area, leaving the State government with a Special Timbers Management Strategy and no wood resource. That should be interesting!!

And what of blackwood as a commercial opportunity in 2016?

There is not a lot of cause for optimism that I can see. Mostly another year of forest industry politics and nonsense.

So dear readers I trust you have a safe and happy festive season. See you all in 2016.

Some more great Hydrowood blackwood

Here are some more great pictures of Hydrowood blackwood going over the saw.

It almost looks like rosewood rather than blackwood.

The next Hydrowood auction is late January 2016.

Hydrowood blackwood

Posted by Wynwood Sawmill on Wednesday, December 16, 2015



Federal Government to abandon plans to log World Heritage Area if UNESCO will not ratify it


In yesterdays news media:

A UNESCO delegation recently visited the state to assess the practices and meet with stakeholders, with a final report expected next year.

The Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Senator Anne Ruston, said the logging plan would be scrapped if UNESCO did not support it.

“When they [UNESCO] bring down that report I would be really surprised if the Federal Government did anything other than respect those decisions,” she said.

With the hardline, anti-conservation Tony Abbott administration now gone the politicians are already softening up the electorate and protecting their positions in the likely event that UNESCO will continue to not support logging special timbers in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Senator Ruston said she had some sympathy for users of specialty species timber.

“They also have an argument which is reasonable, that they have very low impact where they take those timbers from,” she said.

To forget the lessons of the last 30 years of bitter conflict over public native forest management in Tasmania would be foolish in the extreme. Tasmania has not changed and neither has our forest policy and management. Opening up the WHA to logging would be yet another forest industry disaster to add to an already long list of disasters.

Within the context of the past 30 years promises of “low impact” are utterly meaningless.

“It’s a major concern that the [special timbers] resource is now essentially behind closed doors.”

The remaining public native forest special timbers resource is “behind closed doors” precisely because of what has happened over the last 30 years.

The taxpayer-funded logging of public native forest old growth and rainforest for special timbers is over [subject to UNESCOs report].

Now when will Tasmania get a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

Tasmanian blackwood sawlogs at $625 per cubic metre!


Ring the bells! Break out the champagne!!

The first Hydrowood tender results were much better than I was expecting.

The 17.7 cubic metres (13 logs) of plain grain blackwood logs sold for an average of $625 per cubic metre mill door.

These were large good quality logs equivalent in size and quality to what can be grown in a well managed blackwood plantation.

The 3 feature grain blackwood logs sold for $547 per cubic metre.

So that’s $13,100 for one truck load (21.4 cubic metres) of blackwood logs.

At $625 per cubic metre a mature blackwood plantation has a mill door value of $180,000 per hectare!

Why aren’t Tasmanian farmers interested? Why isn’t the TFGA interested? Why isn’t the Government supporting this obvious commercial opportunity?

The standout feature of this tender was the price paid for good quality celery top pine logs at $2,846 per cubic metre. This price far exceeds any price that Island Specialty Timbers have achieved for Celery logs.

The results of this first Hydrowood tender clearly demonstrate that the market is prepared to pay very good prices for high quality special timbers logs.

All up the 35 cubic metres (38 logs) of high quality logs at this first Hydrowood tender fetched over $30,000!!

Congratulations to the Hydrowood team!

The Hydrowood tender results are going to show the lies and deceit of State forest policy as expressed at the recent LC scrutiny committee meeting.

The Government and Forestry Tasmania say that growing special timbers can never be a profitable commercial business because the market can’t afford to pay good prices! That the special timbers industry is a community service and has nothing to do with commercial opportunities.

What pathetic lies!

No one is going to invest in planting Celery top pine, Huon pine, Myrtle or Sassafras for wood production. These species are just too slow growing.

Blackwood however is fast growing and can be grown successfully in commercial plantations. Research in Australia and New Zealand has proven that speed of growth does not negatively impact on wood quality in Tasmanian blackwood.

A second tender of Hydrowood logs and milled logs will commence in late January. To discover more about this innovative venture go to

Now who is interested in creating and supporting a profitable sustainable future for our special timbers industry?