2008 Taylor Solidbody Custom Koa/Blackwood

Back when I was reviewing Taylor Guitars blackwood models in chronological order I missed a rare gem!

Taylor has been researching and developing guitar electronics and pickup systems for many years.

This resulted in the Expression System 1 (ES1) in 2003 for Taylor acoustic guitars, followed in 2005 by the T5 hollowbody hybrid guitar in 2005, and the T3 semihollow body in 2009. Both the T5 and T3 models are still in production.

In 2007 the Taylor R&D had evolved to the point of developing pickups that suited solidbody guitars, so the decision was made to develop a range of solidbody electric guitars.

These were launched in 2008 with three models – Standard, Classic and Custom.

The initial Custom model had a Walnut top with Sapele body and neck(Wood & Steel Vol 54, p. 16).

The Custom model then quickly expanded to include a stunning Custom Koa/Blackwood model with a flamed Koa top and Tasmanian blackwood body and neck (Wood & Steel, Vol. 55, p. 18).

The Custom Koa model then changed to having a mahogany body and neck (Wood & Steel Vol 56, p. 33).

But as Taylor quickly discovered, breaking into the already crowded and conservative solidbody electric guitar market would be a long, hard battle.

On top of that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit the world economy sending guitar sales plummeting.

From what I can find on the internet, Taylor put little effort into marketing and promoting their solidbody guitars, with the result that only 45 of these Custom Koa/Blackwood beauties were built (Taylor Guitars, pers. com). They are rare premium electric blackwood guitars.

The solidbody Custom models only lasted 2 years!

The Standard and Classic models died out in 2013!

“On a related note, you may notice the absence of our SolidBody from this year’s line. That’s because we wanted to take this year to explore some new design ideas. We’ll be sure to share new developments as they unfold.”

And with that simple statement in 2014 Taylor declared the end of their brief venture into the solidbody electric guitar market.

Local Communities and the Forest Industry

This recent commentary from the forest industry demonstrates yet again the arrogance, contempt and feral attitude that the industry shows towards the Australian community:

The Murrindindi Shire in the Central Highlands of Victoria is Ground Zero for public native welfare forestry in Victoria. Not surprisingly the local Murrindindi community are getting increasingly agitated and concerned about the impact forestry is having on their lives and livelihoods.

https://www.murrindindi.vic.gov.au/Your-Council/Statement-on-the-Management-of-Central-Highlands-Forests

But the forest industry demonstrates nothing but contempt for the community’s concerns.

https://www.murrindindi.vic.gov.au/logging

The arrogance in the language of the Timberbiz commentary is nothing short of offensive!

If the forest industry loses the support of local communities then it only has itself to blame.

Treating local communities with such blatant arrogance and contempt will only hasten the isolation and decline of the forest industry.

Murrindindi Shire is close to the City of Melbourne, so many of the residents are not dependent on forestry welfare, hence the growing concern and criticism.

The Murrindindi Council are the elected representatives of the local community, a fact which the forest industry chooses to ignore.

As a forester I fully support the Murrindindi community in their right to show care and concern for their future.

As a forester I condemn the offensive attitude and language of the forest industry.

Going backwards!

There are many reasons why the forest industry in Australia is going backwards.

Here is just one small example:

PF Olsen is a forestry services company which started in New Zealand, but has also opened offices in Australia.

Here is their New Zealand website:

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

Notice the headings across the top of the page.

Now here is their Australian website:

https://au.pfolsen.com/

Notice the headings across the top of the page. How do they compare with the New Zealand website?

The Australian website contains nothing about Contractors & Suppliers nor about Market Information & News!

Why is that?

Are there no forestry markets in Australia?

Do tree growers in Australia not want access to uptodate market information?

Or is it because profitable tree growing is not the focus of the forest industry in Australia?

New Zealand has a real forest industry where the focus is on supporting tree growers to make sure they are as viable and profitable as possible. That way more farmers plant trees, the forest industry expands and has a successful future.

It is a successful simple industry model!

PF Olsen NZ is acutely aware of this and do their bit to ensure tree growers and the forest industry share a successful future.

Go to PF Olsen’s New Zealand website and check out their Market Info & News. It’s a great resource for NZ farmers!

Curiously PF Olsen Australia does not seem to share the same vision.

The focus of the forest industry in Australia has always been about supporting and subsidising domestic processors, at the expense of growers and the future of the industry.

Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Please post a comment…

PS. If anyone can find a single Australian forest industry website that provides uptodate market information I’d love to know. Thanks.

Blackwood logs for sale

I just received this email about a sizable parcel of salvage blackwood that is currently avalable. Please feel free to contact Mark Smith – details below. If not sold the blackwood will be disposed of.

Good luck

Gordon

Hi Gordon

I received an enquiry from a landowner in the Ringarooma area, NE Tasmania who is clearing some native forest (stringy/white gum) under an FPP to put in a centre pivot and generating 500-800t of feature grade blackwood. 

I’m not finding a huge amount of interest but pass the opportunity onto you for your consideration.  Can you recommend any sawmillers or exporters across the north/northwest who might be interested?

Contact details:

Mark Smith

0419 381 075

ataylor@hotmail.com

Tree Alliance – MIS revisited?

https://www.treealliance.com.au/

Does anyone remember the Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) disaster of the 1990s?

It was the biggest corporate fraud in Australia’s history.

There was no Royal Commission and no one went to jail.

Billions of investor and taxpayer dollars disappeared, and thousands of Australian lives were ruined.

And the forest industry, which started the MIS schemes, refused to accept any responsibility for their actions!

It was a complete disaster!

And it had its beginnings in much the same way as the Tree Alliance is now starting off.

The forest industry has been very quiet the past 10 years as it has rebuilt from the ashes of the MIS disaster.

The MIS was a near-death experience for the forest industry. A few people made extraordinary wealth, but left the industry a smoking ruin.

Below is a list of those who support the Tree Alliance:

Supporters of the Tree Alliance:

The Tree Alliance aims to bring together a range of organisations to collaborate to achieve the tree planting and communication objectives. Current supporters include:

  • Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association
  • Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group
  • Tasmanian Timber
  • Tasmanian Forests and Forests Product Network
  • We Act
  • Climate Friendly
  • The Centre For Sustainable Architecture With Wood (University of Tasmania)
  • CSIRO
  • NRM South

Note that the above list contains no sawmillers, wood processors, log merchants,  exporters, or retailers. No one in the real forest industry supports the Tree Alliance!

Does that make you suspicious?

It should!!!

I wander through the Tree Alliance website and I see history repeating itself.

I see the forest industry (or at least public servants, scientists, NGOs and politicians) big-talking! Lots of promises and potential, just like the start of the MIS disaster.

BEWARE!

As I tell all my clients and those who make enquiries about growing blackwood:

“No one wants you to grow trees for future wood production!”

The real forest industry (including the marketplace) has not the slightest interest in your tree-growing dreams!

I get phone calls and hear stories of people who are bulldozing their trees they once planted and can now find no markets for!!

The Tree Alliance has all the features, promises and rhetoric of a giant fraud, just like the Managed Investment Scheme disaster.

BEWARE!

I support a real forest industry! New Zealand has a real forest industry; Australia does not!

In New Zealand the forest industry talks about prices, costs, supply, demand, markets, etc.; all those things that farmers understand and deal with every single day.

No one in the forest industry in Australia talks about such matters!

Looking at the Tree Alliance is like watching Dorothy and the Tin Man skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.

BEWARE!

Until the real forest industry (including the wider marketplace) WANTS a future I would steer clear of any hyper-marketing “forest industry” b***shit.

Cheers!

FSC Standard – Economically Viable

I just thought I’d rave a bit more about the ridiculous FSC Standard for Economically Viable.

Clearly the FSC is completely confused and conflicted about whether forestry is welfare or commerce, or is it money laundering?

So far I have found two different definitions of what the FSC means by Economically Viable. The first example comes from FSC UK:

Economically Viable

Economically viable forest management means that forest operations are structured and managed so as to be sufficiently profitable, without generating financial profit at the expense of the forest resource, the ecosystem, or affected communities. The tension between the need to generate adequate financial returns and the principles of responsible forest operations can be reduced through efforts to market the full range of forest products and services for their best value.

https://www.fsc-uk.org/en-uk/about-fsc/what-is-fsc/our-mission-and-vision

The second example comes from FSC Australia:

Economically Viable

The FSC certification standard requires that a forest management entity have sufficient financial resources to manage the defined forest area in conformance with the full scope of the standard.  The standard does not require that the certified forest is managed at a profit provided that other sources of working capital are available and sufficient to enable management in conformance with the standard.

https://www.scsglobalservices.com/news/scs-responds-to-questions-about-the-forestry-tasmania-fsc-forest-management-assessment

Both these examples demonstrate that no one at the FSC has ever studied Economics 101 – basic economic theory and principles.

So let’s discuss the FSC UK definition first:

Of the two definitions it’s the one I like the most; not perfect but at least heading in the right direction. Clearly the UK believes that forestry (growing trees for wood production) is a business, not welfare or money laundering. But the wording could be improved and simplified.

So here is my edit of the UK definition:

Economically viable forest management means that forest operations are structured and managed so as to be profitable. Any subsidies to the forest grower must be available equally to all forest growers within the same jurisdiction.

The rest of the words are pointless. If the forest management is Environmentally Appropriate, Socially Beneficial but it is not profitable then presumably the forest owner would not harvest any trees, ie. No need to seek FSC certification.

If the forest management meets all three Standards, then there is no need to reiterate the environmental and social standards within the economic standard as the UK definition has done. It is superfluous text!

Meet all three Standards = Achieve FSC Certification!

What is “sufficiently” profitable is a decision for the forest owner to make, based on available markets, etc..

If the forest owner is subsidised to manage the forest for wood production (which may be the case in some countries), then the FSC must ensure that all forest owners within that same jurisdiction have equal access to the same subsidies, ie. The FSC has a duty to uphold the principles of competitive neutrality within the forest industry, and not advantage one forest grower over another.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/10/17/competitive-neutrality-in-forestry/

Which leads me nicely to the Australian definition of Economically Viable.

The Australian definition of Economically Viable could be taken to be supportive of money laundering in the forest industry.

Within the Australian definition no profitability is required.

Any amount of money from any source (eg. Criminal activity) can be used to subsidise forest management, achieve economic viability and hence achieve FSC Certification.

In Tasmania that equates to robbing taxpayers to pay sawmillers.

If that definition does not open the gates to corruption and criminal activity I don’t know what would!

I would love to meet the economist that signed off on that definition of “economically viable”! A very “creative” economist indeed!!

Never mind the fact that the FSC supports both of the above contradictory Standards!!

If I was a farmer wanting to diversify my income and plant trees for wood production what would I think of the above Standards?

Would I be supportive of the FSC?

If I was a Tasmanian concerned about the continuing plunder of our public native forests, what would I think of the FSC? Would I have any confidence in Third Party Forest Certification?

I think the FSC has a long way to go to achieve any credibility.

An invitation to join the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

HI Gordon,

I’ve been reading your newsletter. Have you thought about joining your group up to FSC?

I’m in the environment chamber and on the board. Happy to talk about it if you are interested.

Cheers

I recently received this invitation to join the Australian branch of the FSC.

I’m making my reply to this invitation public because I believe the public and the marketplace need to better understand what is happening within the forest industry.

Hi XXXX

Thanks for the invitation for the Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative to join the FSC.

Twenty years ago I had hopes that the advent of the FSC would see major reform within the Australian forest industry.

Today I have no such illusions!

The fact that Bunnings/Officeworks will help shut down public native welfare forestry next year is indirectly due to the FSC, but otherwise the industry and the wood marketplace are utterly moribund.

Harsh words I know, but after a 40 year career that is the only conclusion I can come too.

The FSCs standards for “economically viable” are a joke. No they are worse than a joke! They are completely offensive and destructive to the future of the industry:.  

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2019/05/13/fsc-supports-illegal-forestry-in-australia/

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/10/17/competitive-neutrality-in-forestry/

Because of this “Standard”, private forest growers have no hope. Because of this “Standard” my Group has no future. How can it when annual taxpayer subsidies to public native welfare forestry are fully supported by the FSC and PEFC? Private growers don’t get FSC/PEFC approved annual taxpayer subsidies!!

Growing trees for wood production is a commercial activity. It is not welfare!

Should I join the FSC to help drive change within the FSC?

If Greenpeace resigned because it could not achieve meaningful change within the FSC what chance would I have of doing so?

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/03/30/greenpeace-leaves-the-forest-stewardship-council-fsc/

Greenpeace is right! Third party certification without transparency is a waste of time. It becomes a form-filling, label-sticking exercise of little value.

So why would I join an organisation like the FSC that deliberately seeks to undermine private forest growers?

Taxpayer subsidised welfare forestry and profit-driven commercial forestry cannot coexist in the same marketplace.

It’s that simple!

The FSC supports welfare forestry and therefore undermines commercial forestry.

It’s that simple!

If the FSC wants to support and encourage farm forestry in Australia then it needs to change its assessment standards.

It’s that simple!

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Bradbury

Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Special Species Timbers Fiasco

Looking at the just-released 2019-20 Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Annual Report highlights the plunder and fiasco of public native forest special timbers management in Tasmania.

https://www.sttas.com.au/

On page 89 of the Annual Report is Table 16 summarising the 2019-20 production of specialty timbers from public native forest.

The bullshit around public native forestry in Tasmania is never ending.

Here I will just focus on a tiny piece of the fiasco-bullshit:

The following table shows the data from the STT annual report (page 89) summarising the annual sale of specialty timbers from the plunder of our public native forests; together with my own summary of Island Specialty Timbers (IST) annual log tender results:

Assuming the accountants and the editors have done their jobs, the IST log tender results should be a subset of the STT sales results.

https://www.islandspecialtytimbers.com.au/

Island Specialty Timbers does not produce its own separate annual report. A few years ago STT used to report highlights of the IST tender results but not anymore.

STT has reduced its annual report to nothing but marketing rubbish!

Anyway my point here is to highlight three things:

  • Most specialty timbers from harvesting public native forest are sold “off market” at “government prices” = WELFARE!!. That is 7,800 cubic metres of high value logs were given away at mates rates; and
  • Assuming that IST tenders the “very best” of the specialty timbers harvested, the other 99% of the specialty timbers harvested must be absolute rubbish!!
  • Blackwood is by far the most important special species timber, but most of it is sold “off market”.

Tasmanians are not allowed to know the cost of logging public native forest. Public native forestry is not about business.

Logging public native forest is about WELFARE and POLITICS and BULLSHIT!

Which is why so many community organisations are trying so hard to shut this industry down!

Thoughts and comments welcome!

VicForests ‘hamstrung’

https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/story/6836029/vicforests-hamstrung/

This article appeared in a regional newspaper back in July.

Very few people would have read it. Even fewer people would have understood it or appreciated the wisdom (even if misinterpreted).

Vicforests is the State government forest agency in Victoria, Australia tasked with logging public native forests.

https://www.vicforests.com.au/

For the past 50+ years it has been the focus of increasingly bitter community opposition.

The article mostly expresses the opinions of Gary Featherston, a professional forester and apologist for public native forestry.

Mr Featherston wishes us to believe that public native forestry is “hamstrung” by its political masters.

But what Mr Featherston describes is nothing more than the chaos of politically driven public administration. Every day the objectives change according to the winds of politics. Every day the chaos increases!

The chaos of public administration is bad enough in areas like education and health. But when it comes to pseudo-commerce like public native forestry the chaos takes on a whole new meaning!

Up until the 1990’s forestry in Australia was a Government run welfare scheme. Native forest and plantations were managed to provide jobs in regional Australia.

Today only NSW and WA have Government owned plantations. Today most timber grown and sold in Australia is privately owned. Profit is the motive! As it should be!!

And yet industry and Government policy in Australia is still focused on subsidising sawmillers/wood processors; ie. Policy is still focused on welfare.

Vicforests is not “hamstrung” as Mr Featherston wants us to believe!

Vicforests (and public native forestry around Australia) is the very embodiment of 19th century ideology well past its useby date.

Vicforests can never be divorced from the chaos of politics.

Politics is the permanent enduring Achilles Heel of public native forestry.

The future of forestry is in profitable private forest managers and growers, and until Australia recognises that fact we will continue on this endless cycle of conflict, stupidity and waste.

Timber processor alarmed over ‘massive amount’ of softwood exported to China

A large truck carrying neatly piled wood logs enters a large yard with thousands of large wooden logs.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/softwood-resource-exported-to-china-amid-log-supply-insecurity/12617994

Here we are. Sawmillers who have spent generations being on the Government payroll are now complaining about having to exist in a global competitive market.

With the sale of Government pine plantations, the new plantation owners are free to sell their logs to whoever they like, including customers who are prepared to pay more than domestic customers/sawmillers.

Imagine that! Competition and free trade in the forest industry. Who would have guessed?

This is a classic forest industry sob story, about poor hard-done-by sawmillers who can’t compete in a global marketplace.

The softwood industry is no longer part of the Welfare Forestry System in Australia, except in Western Australia and New South Wales, where Governments have yet to privatise their plantation estates.

I just love the pity-me language:

Our forefathers planted the trees — they were planted with a plan to create jobs into the future. It wasn’t about growing wood for Asia.”

A classic example of Trees-as-Welfare, not Trees-as-Commerce. The idea of growing trees to make a profit is anathema to these poor folk.

These sawmillers are demanding welfare not trees!

They are unwittingly demanding the destruction of their very own businesses and industry.

Clearly the Green Triangle Forest Industry Hub (GTFIH) is not the cohesive single-minded group that their website wants us to believe:

http://gtfih.com.au/

Tensions between growers and processors are running high!

The GTFIH has a plan to plant 50,000 ha of new plantation over the next 10 years. That definitely won’t happen with stories like this in the media.

Who would want to plant trees knowing you cannot trade in an open competitive market? Nobody that’s who!!

Unfortunately the article does not talk about prices and markets, or any idea of the growers side of the story.

And as for an industry Code of Conduct, that would be the final nail in the coffin for the already struggling forest industry in Australia.

What other primary producers in Australia face a more hostile political environment than tree growers? I can’t think of any! Happy to have your comments!

Anyone growing trees for wood production in Australia, whether plantation or native forest, should be very worried right now. Your investment is about to be destroyed by your politicians.

What a total mess the industry is!!