FIAT (& the TFGA) opposes forestry bill

Edwards&Bailey2

Three important news articles in minor Tasmanian newspapers this week shine the light on the growing conflict in Tasmania over Government forest policy.

Firstly a front page article in this week’s Huon News (22/03/2017) is one of the more detailed and informative news articles on the current forestry chaos that I’ve seen.

Huon News 22032017

The Huon News is the weekly newspaper of the Huon Valley, a Tasmanian community that has been particularly hard hit by the 35 years of forestry wars. The community has been left shattered and bitterly divided. And still we have our politicians stirring up trouble and pain.

The second and third articles are in this week’s Tasmanian Country (24/03/2017) newspaper, a weekly newspaper published for the rural community.

Tas Country 24032017

The Tasmanian Government is actively working against the advice of its own forest management agency Forestry Tasmania.

The Government is also acting against the advice of both the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) AND the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) representing private forest growers.

http://www.fiatas.com.au/

http://www.tfga.com.au/

The Tasmanian Government says it is acting on behalf of the Tasmanian community AND it has a mandate from the 2014 election, and on that basis it will ignore these three critical organisations.

After reading these articles you are left scratching your head wondering what on earth is going on?

There are two points I want to highlight from these articles:

  1. FIAT says that the forest industry is not taxpayer subsidised. I beg to differ in the strongest terms. Despite going to the 2014 election promising no more subsidies for the forest industry, in the past 3 years the Tasmanian taxpayer has given over $250 million in subsidies to the forest industry. This includes the Tasmanian taxpayer assuming responsibility for $150 million in superannuation costs from Forestry Tasmania!! So much for health and education. What private company gets that kind of special treatment?
  2. The TFGA talks about bipartisan political support for the forest industry. Given that neither FIAT nor the TFGA have any forest industry policies or plans it is difficult to determine exactly how we are to judge the issue of bipartisan support. Exactly what are the political parties supposed to support? Exactly who is leading? It was blind bipartisan political support that created the Gunns and MIS disasters.

Our political system is deliberately competitive (and ultimately destructive). It’s like a football grand final. Winners AND losers!! Bipartisan political support is an oxymoron. The 2014 State election proved that.

NO ONE HAS A PLAN FOR THE TASMANIAN FOREST INDUSTRY.

Not FIAT, nor the TFGA; neither Liberal or Labor.

And if they did have a plan it would only be as good as the next State election…….if that!

While the State Government remains a major player in the forest industry then the industry is doomed.

In 2014 the people of Tasmania voted against the forest industry at the State election.

No matter what the outcome of the 2018 State election, the Huon Valley community along with the rest of the Tasmanian community and the forest industry will lose.

And on top of this the State Government is looking to bring a 150,000 cubic metres per year sawmill to Tasmania from Victoria. The Victorians have run out of sawlogs and the mill will close.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-18/tasmanian-government-claims-vote-of-confidence-after-victorian-/8366344

All available public native forest sawlogs in Tasmania are already fully allocated, so why bring the sawmill here? Hence the concern in the third article.

Nothing makes sense.

The only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growers. None of them in Tasmania!!

Milling blackwood in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

The latest edition of New Zealand Tree Grower produced by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, contains a nice article by blackwood grower and sawmiller Paul Millen (NZTG 38(1) p. 7-8).

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/

Paul runs a business called Marlborough Timbers.

http://www.marlboroughtimbers.co.nz/

Here’s the story in summary:

  • 8 plantation blackwood trees milled
  • Tree age: 30 years
  • Tree dbh: 30 – 60cm
  • Pruned height: 4 – 6m
  • Total log volume: 10 cubic metres
  • Total sawn recovery: 4.0 cubic metres
  • Total sawn recovery: 40%
  • Three to four logs per tree were milled, at lengths between 2.4 metres and 3.6 metres, including unpruned logs from above the pruning lift that were targeted to produce decorative knotty flooring.
  • Knotty boards were rough sawn 157 x 27mm and sold green at $NZ1800 per cubic metre. In future they hope to sell this grade of knotty blackwood for $NZ2,500 green or $NZ3,000 kiln dried.
  • They hope to sell kiln dried clear (select) grade blackwood for $NZ4,000 per cubic metre, which equates with what Malcolm Mackenzie is selling select grade blackwood into the NZ market:
  • https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/11/21/new-zealand-blackwood-market-report/

Here’s a link to the article (pdf file):

Milling blackwood in the Marlborough Sounds NZTG 38-1

I got the extra information from Paul to help fill out the story.

Blackwood is a niche timber that I suggest is like the pinot noir variety of New Zealand exotic timbers. The timber has some incredible colour and diversity, and it is a relatively easy hardwood to saw and season. There is a lot of satisfaction in producing a really top notch product. I know there is some excellent mature well-managed farm forestry stands and these growers deserve to receive a high return given the demanding silviculture required to manage these early plantations.

Maybe the New Zealanders should market blackwood as Noirwood!!

As more of the New Zealand farm-grown blackwood resource matures we will be seeing more of these success stories.

Thanks to Paul Millen for the story and further information.

Completely toxic – Tasmanian State Election 2018

BarnettDenmanHodgman

L to R: Tasmanian Resources Minister Guy Barnett, wooden boat builder Andrew Denham, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman.

Tasmania is due for its next State election by March 2018 but we are already in campaign mode. Battlelines are being drawn and as many battlegrounds opened up as the politicians can handle.

The forest industry is an old campaign warhorse. This old nag has been dragged onto every election battlefield for the past 35 years. Up until the 2014 election it was with the support of the forest industry.

But times have changed.

It’s all about logging public native forests; an issue that for a number of reasons (economic, social, political and environmental) is now completely toxic in Tasmania.

At least some sections of the forest industry now recognise the enormous cost of last 35 years of “forestry wars” to both the industry and the Tasmanian community.

The last 3 years have seen the new Liberal State Government dismantling the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement (TFA), which was a landmark agreement between the forest industry and conservationists developed over many years of often difficult negotiation.

The media is already full of campaign stories. Major sections of the forest industry are in open opposition to State Government policy as the Government ramps up its campaign:

Forestry plan set for logjam as industry group prepares opposition campaign

Sawmill boss warns against return to Tasmanian ‘forest wars’, says wood may go unclaimed

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania wants more information on State Government logging plan, not convinced it will be good for the industry, conservationists are strongly opposed

Ruth Forrest MLC calls for proof of demand to unlock forest

But sections of the special timbers community and the Special Timbers Alliance have come out in support of Government policy:

Tasmanian special timbers sector affirms support for Liberals’ forestry plan

Tasmanian Special Timbers Alliance

Pro-forestry advocate wants showdown with the Greens at 2018 Tasmanian election

The next few months will also see the release by the Government of a draft Special Species Timber Management Plan that is perfectly timed to fuel the divisive election campaign.

http://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/forestry/special_species_timber_management_plan

How do we build a healthy profitable forest industry within this hostile context?

An angry, divided community/electorate is what the Government wants. How else can they hope to win the election?

The Tasmanian community is not given any opportunity to resolve this dispute amicably. Thirty five years of forestry wars have left the forest industry and the community bitterly divided. The political system exacerbates the problem and the forest industry lacks leadership.

When will the forest industry and the Tasmanian community realise that politics and politicians will never solve the industry’s many problems?

When will the Tasmanian community realise that if it wants a forest industry for the future then a vote at the ballot box every 4 years is not enough?

Rural communities especially need to take the initiative. The future of the forest industry is with profitable private tree growers. The New Zealanders do it. Tasmanians need to do it too.

It’s going to be a long and bitter election campaign with the Tasmanian community the big losers.

The next 12 months will do the Tasmanian blackwood industry and the Tasmanian community no good whatsoever.

Google News already knows that the forestry wars have recommenced!

GoogleForestry

People thinking of buying or promoting Tasmanian specialty timbers or specialty timber products sourced from public native forest need to think carefully about what their support does for this conflict and the Tasmanian community. Farm grown timber is a safer alternative.

When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?

Taylor GS4e 2007 Fall Limited Edition

GS4e

My trip down Taylor Memory Lane continues with a spotlight on the next blackwood issue. Following the introduction of Tasmanian blackwood into the Taylor Guitars limited production in 2004 the next appearance was in 2007 with the GS4e Fall Limited Edition.

https://www.taylorguitars.com/

In contrast to the abundant 2004 range of Fall Limited Edition models, only five (5) Fall limited release models were issued in 2007, with the GS4e being the only blackwood model (Wood & Steel Vol. 53, p. 16).

Production of the GS4e was only 400 units.

The Grand Symphony (GS) model was introduced by Taylor in 2006, designed to fit between the GA (Grand Auditorium) and the Jumbo. The Jumbo itself was replaced by the GO (Grand Orchestra) in 2013.

The GS4e was a plain basic GS model with a RRP of $US2,198. The specifications are:

Model GS4e 2007 Fall Limited
Type/Shape  Grand Symphony
Back & Sides  Tasmanian blackwood
Top  Sitka spruce
Soundhole Rosette  Plastic
Neck  American tropical mahogany
Fretboard  Ebony
Fretboard Inlay  4mm mother of pearl dots
Headstock Overlay  Indian rosewood
Binding  Cream
Bridge  Ebony
Nut & Saddle  Tusq
Tuning Machines  Chrome-plated Taylor Tuners
Electronics Taylor Expression System (ES)
Strings  Elixir Medium Gauge Strings
Scale Length  25-1/2″
Truss Rod  standard Taylor truss rod
Neck Width at Nut  1-3/4″
Number of Frets 20
Fretboard Radius  15″
Bracing  forward-shifted scalloped x-bracing
Finish  Satin with Gloss Top
Body Dimensions  19-7/8″L x 11-1/4″W (upper bout) 9-5/8″W (waist) 16-1/8″W (lower bout) x 4-5/8″D
Overall Length  41″

For the next 4 consecutive years from 2007 to 2010 Taylor included Tasmanian blackwood in their Limited Release issues with a total of 9 models. My next spotlight will feature the enigmatic 2008 Spring Limited Edition models.

Previous Taylor spotlights:

2004 Fall Limited Editions – when Taylor Guitars first introduced Tasmanian blackwood

Good news story – Great returns from small blocks

Great returns.jpg

https://nz.pfolsen.com/about-pf-olsen/case-studies/great-returns-from-small-blocks/

Following on from my previous blog about the importance of front line troops in the forest industry, here coincidently is a recent fantastic example from New Zealand.

This is the kind of media the forest industry needs to generate on a regular basis to stimulate interest and investment.

New Zealand has a very successful forest industry which is a major contributor to that country’s economy, without taxpayer subsidies.

Sure they have their challenges – that’s fundamental in business. Any business that doesn’t have challenges is going out of business quick smart.

Those clever Kiwis know how to run a proper forest industry.

It’s nothing to do with blackwood apart from showing that farmers can grow trees on a small scale and make very good money, provided Government and industry policies are right and the market’s working properly.

Kevin Thomsen, a small farm forester at Hawkes Bay, harvested just 8.6 hectares of well managed pine grown on land not suited to other land uses. And here are the results:

The harvesting results far exceeded expectations for 24 and 25 year old trees. Key statistics averaged across the two blocks (both Radiata pine) are:

 

Per hectare log yield of 875 tonnes over 8.6 hectares.

 

Net income (stumpage) of $NZ528,297

 

Net income (stumpage) per hectare $NZ61,430

 

Net income (stumpage) per hectare per year of $NZ2,507

 

Net income (stumpage) per tonne of $NZ67.63

Kevin credits a lot of this successful result and “stress-free harvesting” to PF Olsen and “the specialised marketing division based in Rotorua who have access to a number of competing overseas buyers of our logs.”

Clearly Mr Thomsen, besides having a well managed quality resource to sell, was close to markets and had easy harvesting conditions.

What a great story!

And another thing we don’t have here in Australia – great forest product market information like that provided by PF Olsen:

https://nz.pfolsen.com/market-info-news/

When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?

Tasmanian Primary Wood Processors Directory 2016

Having just come back from this field day up in the North West of Tasmania
http://www.pft.tas.gov.au/home/home_articles/north_west_tree_growers_field_day
my one overriding take home message was just how important sawmillers and wood processors are to the future of the forest industry.

They are the front line troops.

If they are struggling to survive then the forest industry doesn’t stand a chance. If they aren’t sending out constant positive supporting messages to tree growers then the forest industry is dead!!!!!

The sawmill we visited yesterday was trying hard to stay afloat, to remain viable, but they had no energy or resources to send positive messages or support to tree growers.

The forest industry in Tasmania is in crisis.

And our politicians play politics.

The field day was great, but the over riding message was one of despair and chaos.

And we are facing a 12 month bitter, divisive State election campaign where the forest industry will be used for political gain.

Oh Tasmania!!!

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

pft_tpwpd2016http://www.pft.tas.gov.au/publications/market_information

The 2016 Wood Processor Directory is now available from the Private Forests Tasmania website.

I’ve reviewed these Directories in previous years:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/10/07/tasmanian-primary-wood-processor-directory-2015/

This Directory is the sum total of “market information” that the forest industry in Tasmania wants the general public to see. Apparently the expectation is that farmers will rush out and invest in growing trees because of this directory. Or is it simply there to assist in the salvage of what remains of the private forest estate?

The Directory is a listing of 42 of the estimated 51 primary wood processors believed to be operating in the State of Tasmania. It has been primarily developed to help private forest owners with logs for sale to identify potential buyers as well as enabling the forest owner to more easily locate and contact primary wood processors.  The Directory also helps the listed primary wood processors to source logs from…

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2004 Fall Limited Editions – when Taylor Guitars first introduced Tasmanian blackwood

taylor355l712s

While still on the Taylor theme, I became curious as to when Taylor Guitars first introduced Tasmanian blackwood to their production.

Here’s an extract from the 2004 Fall Wood & Steel (Vol 42, p. 16) magazine published by Taylor:

Inasmuch as we love introducing new stuff for you to discover and explore, we are pleased to unveil a tonewood that is sure to catch your eye and your ear: Tasmanian blackwood. This beautiful wood shares some characteristics with its Hawaiian cousin, koa, in that its variegated coloring runs from a deep tawny to a light golden brown and is accentuated by rich dark grain patterns. Also like koa, Tasmanian blackwood has a warm, mellow tone highlighted by complex overtones. The more you know about this tonewood, the more there is to like.

Tasmanian blackwood’s charismatic visual allure will make the 300 Series Fall Limited Editions very special indeed. Each guitar will feature satin finish, mother-of-pearl fretboard markers, and a black/white/black fiber purfling on the body binding and in the soundhole rosette.

The 2004 Fall Limited Editions included 10 Tasmanian blackwood models in the 300 series, including three 12-string models. These had solid Tasmanian blackwood back and sides & Sitka spruce top. The models and production numbers were:

MODEL PRODUCTION
310-L7 Dreadnought 6-string 116
310ce-L7 Dreadnought 6-string with cutaway and ES 320
312ce-L7 Grand Concert 6-string with cutaway and ES 65
314-L7 Grand Auditorium 6-string 40
314ce-L7 Grand Auditorium 6-string with cutaway and ES 471
315-L7 Jumbo 6-string 5
315ce-L7 Jumbo 6-string with cutaway and ES (a) 34
354ce-L7 Grand Auditorium 12-string with cutaway and ES 37
355-L7 Jumbo 12-string 15
355ce-L7 Jumbo 12-string with cutaway and ES 47

(a) Model not listed in Wood & Steel Vol. 42.

These 1150 guitars may one day become iconic collector’s items in the new world of sustainable acoustic guitars.

Here’s a video of the 2004 355-L7 Jumbo 12 string Tasmanian blackwood:

And here’s one of these rare jumbos currently for sale:

https://reverb.com/item/3345670-taylor-355-l7-limited-edition-1-of-15-12-string-2004-w-taylor-hard-case

(NOTE TO REVERB USERS: If you are searching for blackwood guitars on reverb the search only picks up “blackwood” if it is in the title of the advertisement. If blackwood is in the text and not in the title, it will not appear in your reverb search results. The above 355 Jumbo is a good example of this faulty search program. You will also need to search by make and model to find blackwood guitars.)

For 13 years Taylor Guitars have been championing Tasmanian blackwood to the world. Thank you Taylor Guitars!

Thanks also to Taylor Guitars for their assistance with this article.

https://www.taylorguitars.com/