Maleny Wood Expo

MWE

The more I read about the Maleny Wood Expo (MWE) the more I like.

http://www.malenywoodexpo.com

The town of Maleny is in south east Queensland up in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast.

The MWE has been going for 22 years and is clearly a major community event!

The MWE comes from a landcare background. This seems to be what makes the difference with other “festivals”.

One of the great initiatives of the MWE is their Sustainable Timber Policy:

http://www.malenywoodexpo.com/maleny-wood-expo-sustainable-timber-policy/

The fact that the MWE cares about where the timber comes from is a unique initiative.

Sustainable Timber Policy

The Maleny Wood Expo has a strong focus on ecological sustainability and sustainable use of local timbers. The first Maleny Wood Expo in 1996 was born from Barung Landcare’s recognition of the need to raise awareness about sustainable use of native hardwood and rainforest cabinet timbers. If our beautiful native timbers are to be available in the future, we must protect our resources.

[we must protect our resources…..and promote and support private tree growers].

The Expo aims to promote the whole ‘timber’ story – from seed collection through planting forests, harvesting and milling to the end product, the furniture.

[I like this sentence very much. The one thing missing from the “whole timber story” is the “Who”. Who grows the wood? Who manages the forest? Who collects and plants the seeds? If this was a dairy expo the dairy farmer would be the centre of attention. The same needs to happen with timber. Where is the Grower? Timber needs to be humanised].

The main point of difference between the Maleny Wood Expo and other wood shows is that our wood artisans are required to work in sustainably harvested native, weed or recycled timbers.

[MWE are keen to deliberately differentiate themselves from other “Festivals”. As I wrote in a previous blog, most wood festivals don’t care at all where the wood comes from. MWE care very much! This is the 21st century. This is a great positive initiative].

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/02/13/all-about-the-wood-nothing-about-the-growers/

To achieve this we require all exhibitors to respect our ethic. All timber must be sourced from:

  • Primarily from SE Queensland or northern NSW region (minimum 80%);
  • Hardwood or softwood timber from managed plantations on private or public land;
  • Exotic (non native) hardwood and softwood timbers (e.g. Slash Pine, Camphor Laurel and Privet) that can be removed with minimal disturbance to native bushland. Many species have weed potential and their removal will benefit the environment;
  • Salvage timber from native forest logging operations i.e. timber that isn’t the primary target of the operation but rather a by-product that would otherwise be bulldozed or burnt (e.g. Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon);
  • Timber collected where it presents a danger to people e.g. trees that have fallen or are likely to fall across roads, powerlines, houses (recognise that timber left to rot on the ground provides important nutrients and wildlife habitat);
  • Dead standing trees from partially-cleared farmland – of less than 20cm diameter at waste height;
  • Recycled timbers from demolition of buildings and other constructions, and waste transfer stations; or
  • Other – if timber is not from the above sources, exhibitors must indicate where it came from prior to exhibiting at Expo.

Products made from timber burls cut from live trees (from Regional Ecosystem Guidelines, Qld Dept of Environment and Heritage Protection) are not permitted at Maleny Wood Expo.

Abiding by these guidelines will assist our community in sustainably managing our local timber resources.

It’s a pretty good policy.

What I would like to see is the policy actual focus more on promoting and supporting profitable private tree growers; actually build and grow the future supply of quality timber for both commercial and environmental objectives.  There could be a range of initiatives to support this.

Why not use the power and momentum of the MWE to get more trees in the ground; grow the future!

Private Tree Growers

Besides the Sustainable Timber Policy the only other reference on the MWE website to tree growers is this statement:

Tree Farming for The Planet

We must more and more use timber from privately-owned forests as our appreciation of old growth forests leads to cessation of logging. Private forests provide not only timber – they’re an important farm asset and income stream. They repair and protect our land and provide biodiversity and habitat, shelter and support for agricultural and grazing enterprises, landscape aesthetics, bushfoods and much more. The Barung Nursery supplies quality tree stock for boutique and larger plantations.

The Barung Landcare Group hosts the MWE which is clearly a very good thing.

http://www.barunglandcare.org.au/

It’s curious that their website doesn’t have much of a focus on growing timber.

Is there a local specialty timber growers group that the Barung Landcare Group supports?

There are significant opportunities still to be realised in this Barung Landcare/MWE team.

Keep up the great work!

Now why can’t other wood festivals be more like the MWE?

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All about the wood, nothing about the growers

TBG

It’s a funny old world!

I look around and see lots of events and festivals that have a strong wood focus, events such as:

All of these events either feature wood or have a strong link to wood.

But none of these events show any interest whatsoever in where their wood comes from, or who grows it!!

It’s as if they think the wood magically falls from the sky!

Do they not care?

I understand the history behind this attitude and thinking. In Australia we have had 200+ years of abundant public native forests to plunder. Why worry about tomorrow when there is a tree to cut down today!

But those days are clearly behind us. The treeless/woodless tomorrow is rapidly approaching. I read about it every day!

Or perhaps they believe there are hundreds of private tree growers out there happily and profitably growing so much quality wood that they don’t need to worry. I don’t see much evidence of that. Yes there are a few private tree growers around Australia but they are rare.

Or a third possibility is that these organisations believe it is NOT their responsibility to support and encourage private tree growing. If it isn’t the responsibility of markets to do this then I’m not sure who is responsible.

And still the festivals continue.

Even woodcraft galleries (and Australia has some world class woodcraft galleries) behave as if there is an endless abundance of wood.

It doesn’t make sense to me.

The idea of having a wood festival in the 21st century without any reference to where the wood comes from or who grows it is just extraordinary!

These events and businesses should think about how they can encourage and support private tree growers as part of their event/business program.

In encouraging and supporting private tree growers they ensure the future of their event.

It’s not just about existing tree growers, it’s about building a strong positive culture of tree growing in the rural community.

Some of these events and festivals are huge. They could make an enormous impact in rural communities, helping build a culture of tree and timber growing.

And including existing and potential tree growers into the program would bring a whole new audience to these events.

If anyone wants ideas or to start a discussion about how to include existing and potential private tree growers into their event program I’d be happy to help. Give me a call; send me an email…

PS. And knock me down with a feather!

Here we have a woodcraft festival that does acknowledge the importance of tree growers:

Maleny Wood Expo

We must more and more use timber from privately-owned forests as our appreciation of old growth forests leads to cessation of logging. Private forests provide not only timber – they’re an important farm asset and income stream. They repair and protect our land and provide biodiversity and habitat, shelter and support for agricultural and grazing enterprises, landscape aesthetics, bushfoods and much more. The Barung Nursery supplies quality tree stock for boutique and larger plantations.

They could do a lot more to encourage and support private tree growers but its a start.

Hey the world is changing!!

The Future of Wood

Future of Wood

The latest Martin Journal (Vol 8. p. 58) has an interesting article called The Future of Wood.

https://www.martinguitar.com/about/martin-journal/

It’s a soft-message article about sustainable forest management and sustainable tonewoods.

It’s such a soft message I’m not sure what the take home message is supposed to be.

I wonder how many guitar company stalls at the recent NAMM show had the word “sustainable” on display?

From my watching on social media the NAMM message was the same as usual – “come and see my new exotic, glamorous guitars!”

I didn’t see any presentation or review that mentioned “sustainable”.

Martin’s sentiments are similar—the company has a lot riding on the hope that the tonewoods they’ve built their business around [ebony, rosewood, mahogany] will still be around in another 185 years and that consumers will embrace alternative woods as well.

“We are a six-generation family business,” Davis-Wallen says. “We are going to try to do everything that we can to continue to go on, but we need help from consumers.”

So far I think the message has been so soft it isn’t even getting on the radar let alone getting any response from consumers.

The message needs to be laser sharp and LOUD…..to the point of being irritating.

Message to CF Martin – keep up the good work……BUT TURN UP THE VOLUME!!

Happy reading!

Farmers and forestry

Plantation

Yet another recently discovered private blackwood plantation.

It’s a common mantra in the forest industry in Australia that Australian farmers are reluctant to plant trees as a commercial crop.

For many years I believed this mantra and attributed it to the lack of support from the forest industry, markets and governments. Many government and industry reports have made similar findings.

The fact that the forest industry believes that transparent competitive markets, log prices and a level playing field are irrelevant to its future, doesn’t help.

However I recently had a revelation that undermines this mantra.

Driving around southern Tasmania I am always discovering new blackwood plantations on private farmland, and it suddenly dawned on me – Tasmanian farmers want to grow commercial blackwood, the evidence is everywhere!

I know of dozens of private blackwood plantations in southern Tasmania alone. In northern Tasmania there must be hundreds.

Virtually all of these plantations are small and have failed.

They have failed for a range of reasons:

  • Poor site selection;
  • Poor establishment;
  • Lack of timely management and commitment;
  • Stock and wildlife damage;

But I believe the major reason for the failure of these hundreds of private plantations is the lack of support and engagement (and demonstrably commercial behaviour) by the forest industry and the State government.

The government agency Private Forests Tasmania offers extension services to Tasmanian farmers, but clearly, after 45 years, this isn’t enough.

http://pft.tas.gov.au/

Private Forests Tasmania by itself cannot provide enough support, encouragement and motivation to turn this demonstrable passion for commercial blackwood into a success story.

And especially right now we have State government policy deliberately undermining any hopes of private commercial blackwood growers with the anti-commercial Special Timbers Management Plan:

https://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/energy_and_resources/forestry/special_species_timber_management_plan

Tasmanian farmers clearly demonstrate a passion for growing commercial blackwood, even within the context of decades of toxic, destructive forest politics and policy.

If only we could turn this passion into a success story.

Election Wishlist

Hodgman White

Another day, another list of new election promises in the media.

It’s very tedious!!

With another State election a few weeks away I thought I’d throw some thoughts together for a Forestry Election Wishlist.

The 2014 Tasmanian State election is still vivid in my memory as one of the most toxic and divisive forestry elections in recent history (and we have had 35 years of them!). The last 4 years have been some of the most damaging and divisive in the history of the Tasmanian forest industry.

Wishlist:-

  1. Tasmania to have a fully commercial profitable forest industry like New Zealand, based on thousands of profitable private tree growers. We need Government policy and action to make this happen;
  2. The evidence is overwhelming! Public native forestry is a disaster commercially, socially and environmentally. It needs to be shut down.
  3. In term of regulations, forest plantations are just like other primary industries. Do we have an Onion Practices Authority, or a Diary Practices Authority? Do we have Apple Practices Plans or Chicken Practices Plans? No we do not! Forest plantations should not be excessively burdened by regulation.
  4. Private Forests Tasmania should be the dominant government forest agency. It needs to be in partnership with the TFGA to develop a vision for the future of the forest industry based on profitable private tree growers.
  5. I could go on but I’d start to feel like a politician on the campaign trail.

None of the political parties are showing any interest in resolving Tasmania’s forestry crisis so this wishlist is just “pie in the sky”.

For further wishes read my previous wishlist here:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/12/05/wish-list-revisited/

When will Tasmania get a real forest industry?

DW Drums Debuts Pure Tasmanian Timber at NAMM 2018

DW_Tasmania Kit20

Here is an update on the previous story.

Drum Workshop Inc. has announced the debut of their limited edition DW Collector’s Series® Pure Tasmanian Timber drumsets. Handcrafted in DW’s California Custom Shop located in Oxnard, CA, these exceptional drums feature a core of incredibly resonant Australian Blackwood with an outer layer of highly figured Blackheart Sassafras. Finished in a Quick Candy Black Burst to Natural Lacquer which is perfectly complemented by DW black nickel hardware, these distinctive drums are completed with a specialty “Limited Edition DW Pure Tasmanian Timber” badge.

https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2018/exhibitor-news/dw-drums-debuts-pure-tasmanian-timber

Pure Tasmanian Timber Drums

Thanks to Scott Seymour for this story.

I remember back in 1985 when I got my first drum kit, it was an entry level set, but they were mine, and it was an exciting time. Some of the drums needed minor repairs, loose screws, rattles here and there, so I took each and every drum apart and became familiar with their construction and managed to fix some of the problems myself. I remember my first brand new professional drum kit as well, the day the delivery truck arrived and the boxes began being unloaded. One thing that stood out though was that the individual drums arrived without drum heads on them; they were in a separate box, and every time I opened a box with a drum in it, wow…..the smell of wood. I’ll always remember that, it was wonderful.

I’ve been watching guitar companies like Maton, Taylor and others using Tasmanian Blackwood and Sassafras for quite a few years, and as a tonewood they work exceptionally well. I play guitar as well as drums, so I have an interest regarding both instruments. It’s no secret that small boutique drum manufacturers in Australia have been using these timbers to make drums as well, and these drums have gained a reputation for being really good, not just visually but more importantly in terms of their tone. It’s very difficult though to get the world to sit up and really take notice, in a big way, of drums made from Tasmanian tonewoods, and realise just how good they are, unless the company behind them has a worldwide audience.

Enter major US manufacturer DW (Drum Workshop Inc.).

http://www.dwdrums.com/

DW has firmly established themselves in the drum market and are a well-known name in the music industry, they recently celebrated their 45th anniversary and so many of the world’s best drummers play their kits and/or use their hardware, cymbal stands, foot pedals etc. They have an artist roster well over a dozen pages long everyone from Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) Peter Criss (Kiss) Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Roger Taylor (Queen) to name a few, play or have played DW Drums.

The sort of exposure a company like this can generate is on a whole different level to the smaller manufacturers. DW also own Gretsch Drums, LP Percussion, Gibraltar Hardware, PDP (Pacific Drums) and Ovation Guitars (yes….a world renowned guitar brand).

For many years I’ve wanted to be able to talk with a company like this about building drums using Tasmanian tonewood, but, I’m a musician, I don’t have access to timber, I don’t have a mill or the knowledge of wood to be able to put any kind of idea to a company like DW or anyone else.

Sure, I could try and bluff my way, get a company interested and then frantically get on the phone to call mills and timber suppliers to try and get what is needed, and hope for the best, but that’s not a sound idea, it’s a risky notion at best. I needed to find someone who knows timber, knows the industry, has access to not just ‘ok’ timber, but above average quality timber, something really special. I needed someone who not only sources the timber, but someone who is all over every aspect of it, the logging, the transport, the milling, packing and sending, otherwise end costs can get out of hand if the process involves paying six different people for all of the required processes. My only other requirement was that the timber is legally sourced and only from private land because I am not a fan of seeing native forests destroyed, I don’t want to support that. It took a few years but I ended up finding just the right person, Jason Weller, in Burnie.

I’d like to say it was through great planning but honestly our meeting was a total fluke and happened via social media back in June last year when I spotted a photo Jason’s brother Paul had posted of a spectacular Blackheart Sassafras log that they had just cut. I’ve seen Blackheart Sassafras before but this, this was stunning. I left a comment saying something along the lines of ‘this would make some sensational guitars’…..funny how my first thought was still the guitar industry. Well through Paul I ended up talking with Jason, and this is where the story gets really interesting. We discovered quickly that while I had some basic knowledge of tonewood, Jason had very little knowledge of the music industry but a wealth of knowledge regarding timber, and was all over every aspect of supplying product. Bingo, the perfect match.

Initially I was going to market the timber to guitar tonewood suppliers, and although we started to do that, we quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to work out too well, and that indeed, it can be a ‘cut throat’ industry, because some people go out of their way to make it so.

So that idea quickly went out the window, and it was then that I thought…….drums. Here is the chance to ‘go for it’, why didn’t of think of this first? Jason was supportive of the idea and said, ‘well…let’s see what happens, can’t hurt to try’. How right he was.

So in June last year I contacted DW and was put in touch with the Vice President of the company, John Good. John has been with DW since the company first opened their doors.

What I sent John were a couple of photos of Jason’s Blackheart Sassafras and Blackwood, a brief introduction to the species, and the idea for drum shell construction with an explanation of why I thought it should work, and how it might sound. Now, of course, a theory is one thing, but this was a sound theory (no pun intended) based on a few years of research.

John really liked the idea and we ended up emailing and talking on the phone several times working out the details, and of course, Jason and I always kept each other up to date.

Talking with John was great, he understands drums and drum shell construction, I understand drums and to some extent their construction as well, we were on exactly the same wave length.

Initially the idea was that we would send just some sample veneers over to DW, they had never worked with these species before, and wanted to make a few drum shells and see if this might be a viable project. The more John and I talked the more information that changed hands and our confidence in the idea grew. I got a phone call from John early one morning (6am here in Tassie) and he said ‘Scott…..we want to get a project underway, 200 drum kits, I’m going to come and see you and Jason, this is all very exciting, I can’t wait’.

Sure enough, in September, John, his wife Esther, and long-time friend from Melbourne, Bill Mackin, arrived in Burnie for a few days and we all sat down to really iron out the details of the project, to look at veneer, logs, and spend some time together. It was an exciting time.

The drum shells themselves are 9 ply…..the outer ply is Blackheart Sassafras, the inner most ply is Crown Cut Blackwood, the core of the shell, the remaining 7 ply, is all Quarter Cut Blackwood, but just plain grain Blackwood, free from knots/inclusions etc. because we’re after tone from this Blackwood, not appearance because it cannot be seen, we don’t need to be using the more rare fiddleback or spalted varieties. John states in the video that Blackwood can’t be rotary cut, well, it can be, but as we explained to him, to achieve the best tonality from the wood, it really needs to be Quarter Cut. We need to remember though that getting the best out of Blackwood is something people in Australia have been working out for a long time, but for John, he’d never even seen Tasmanian Blackwood.

The project was a ‘Go’…….

So there we have it, the world is now being introduced to ‘Pure Tasmanian Timber’ drum kits, and this also proves that while it’s great to see guitars being made by large well know companies such as Maton and Taylor, and gaining international recognition, let’s not forget drums, they are an acoustic instrument after all.………..

NOTES:

It would be great if companies like Drummers Workshop (DW) were more proactive and had a sustainable tonewoods policy. Note to Chris Lombardi and John Good at DW – please develop a sustainable tonewoods policy guys!

If these DW Tasmanian blackwood drums are a success how do we ensure that it results in more blackwoods being planted to grow more quality timber? It will require a lot of direct intervention to get the interest and confidence of Tasmanian landowners.

It looks to me like these 200 Pure Tasmanian Timber drum sets will be sold out the day they go on sale.

Great work Scott. Congratulations!