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!!

“Let’s fast track that plan!”

FastTrack

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/special-reports/more-trees-will-grow-jobs-economy/news-story/8b4fd3b46144584213fd106525ee0d6e

That’s forest industry speak for “hand over the taxpayers money now” and more political protection and subsidies please.

This is a typical piece of forest industry windy hyperbole; full of bluster, promise, and foreboding. I’ve been reading this kind of rubbish all my long forestry career.

The forest industry cannot convince Australian farmers to include commercial treegrowing in their business models.

Why?

Because the forest industry in Australia has zero commercial credibility!

So who then is the audience for this article?

None other than Governments and politicians of course.

This article is not written for the farming community.

As usual the forest industry talks about growing demand and supply shortages but fails to talk about markets, costs, prices and profits.

Forest policy in Australia has always been about loggers, sawmillers and processors – regional jobs.

Forest policy in Australia has never, ever been about profitable tree growers.

This article talks about regional jobs and communities, and deliberately avoids any mention of profitable tree growers.

Saving regional jobs – ie. Welfare forestry – is a major focus of the forest industry.

But welfare forestry is a dead end; a road to failure.

The only truism in this article is “we need to grow the plantation estate significantly and strategically”.

If forestry markets are so positive as this article wants us to believe, then why isn’t the marketplace responding and farmers planting trees? Surely that is the way markets work is it not? More demand triggers higher prices triggers more supply etc, etc.. Classic economics!!

But Australia does not have a forestry market. There is no relationship in Australia between wood supply, demand, price, cost and profit. None!

And that is the result of deliberate industry and Government policy.

The end result is that the forest industry has no commercial credibility and farmers don’t plant trees.

And the forest industry has no clue whatsoever how to fix this problem except write blustering rubbish like this.

Sustainable Timbers Tasmania fails FSC audit again!

logging2

After being audited in May 2019, and the audit report being finalised in February this year, Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (STT) this week were finally courageous enough to publically announce that it had once again failed FSC certification.

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

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/northtas/programs/drive/sustainable-timber-tasmania-fsc-certification/12567014

No one seems at all surprised!

It has been more than 10 years since STT promised to gain FSC certification.

That’s 10 years of failure!

With Bunnings Hardware promising to only sell FSC certified products after 31st December 2020, the future for STT is not looking good. Bunnings is the largest retailer of Tasmanian oak products from Tasmania’s public native forests.

On 1st July this year Bunnings announced they would no longer sell public native forest products from Vicforests.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2020/07/01/bunnings-stops-selling-timber-logged-by-vicforests-after-court-ruling/

The long, slow, bitter, costly road to oblivion for public native welfare forestry in Australia is entering its final phase.

Meanwhile instead of questioning its own failings, or plotting a new course for the future, the forest industry is now waging an all out publicity war on anyone it regards as an enemy, including the FSC and Bunnings.

The culture within the forest industry has become neurotic and hostile.

How the forest industry responds and behaves in this final closing down of public native forestry in Australia will impact the greater industry for decades to come.

If the industry continues its current hostile virulent campaign then the brand/industry damage will be severe indeed.

The private forestry sector in Australia is already starved of oxygen in attempting to generate a positive image and message to the marketplace and the community.

A few more years of negative hostile publicity will alienate more of the marketplace and the community, and further isolate the forest industry.

The Australian forest industry desperately needs to improve its support within the broader community. Right now the opposite is happening.

Will the private forestry sector remain silent as its future is destroyed in this battle?

  1. By the way this article had no impact whatsoever on the FSC audit:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/tasmanian-forest-agreement-delivers-13bn-losses-in-giant-on-taxpayers

Apparently the FSC is perfectly happy supporting fraudulent behaviour in the forest industry.

A proposal to develop New Zealand’s alternative, specialty timbers industry

cropped-p26-nicholas-presentation-blackwood-2011m.jpg

https://fgr.nz/2020/07/14/survey-a-proposed-industry-association-for-alternative-specialty-timbers-and-small-scale-sawmillers/

This sounds exciting!

As usual the New Zealand forest industry is generations ahead of anything happening here in Australia.

This new proposal to establish a NZ Specialty Timbers Association is just brilliant.

Unlike specialty timbers in Tasmania, the industry in NZ has nothing to do with plundering public native forests, or endless, repetitive political games.

New Zealand’s specialty timbers are farm-grown, and include plantations and managed native forest.

A discussion paper about the proposal is available from the above website. It is only 5 pages and well worth reading.

One of the interesting aspects of the proposal is the key role which portable sawmillers will play in the Association; providing the vital link between the marketplace and the thousands of specialty timbers growers in New Zealand.

The current focus of the discussion paper is on the NZ domestic markets which is fine. There are plenty of opportunities locally. But there are a few specialty species (incl. Blackwood) for which available volumes are already in excess of domestic demand, so that export markets must be developed immediately.

Two aspects that I believe are vital for the new Association to consider:

  1. An Industry Plan is needed, with objective, measurable goals and regular reviews. Having thousands of farmers randomly planting thousands of different timber species with no vision or coordination, will not build a viable future. The marketplace needs to develop a select list of preferred species, so that viable marketable quantities of quality wood from these species are available to the market.
  2. Lots of marketplace support and feedback, from builders, architects, craftspeople, etc., needs to be generated so that farmers can have a sense of what they are doing and why. Currently the marketplace completely avoids thinking 10, 20, 30 years into the future when it comes to timber supply. This must change!!

I will follow this story as it develops over the coming months and years.

Congratulations New Zealand!

You have done it again!!

A Change of Policy

BunningsBlockade

Having spent decades/generations complaining about protesting and blockading “greenies” in the public forests, and demanding legal and political protection from such activity, it seems the forest industry in Australia now openly supports a citizen’s right to protest and blockade.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-22/bunnings-logging-protest-after-ditching-victorian-timber/12479914?fbclid=IwAR1HFW46QenXcPH6egLqbAWwTMZZN3EAuVmatbi8wao16Q1ANP9d2fQGOPg

Who would have guessed that such a dramatic change in industry policy was possible?

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/21/tasmanian-anti-logging-protesters-banned-from-forests-over-unsafe-behaviour

Even politicians who have been champions of “lock up the protestors”, have changed their spots and are preparing to chain themselves to the nearest Bunnings charity barbeque.

Will that be white or wholemeal bread with your sausage Maam? Onions? Sauce or mustard? I hope your chains are comfortable Maam! Can I get you a seat?

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6846846/will-braddon-mp-hit-a-bunnings-jail-snag/?cs=12&fbclid=IwAR3yr7tdPMtrABF2Xz02fMTJODND20qQU8gf87ZpGo5buZuXeUQUcYfDK80

It’s not a good look for the forest industry. Bunnings Hardware is stepping out courageously and developing a social conscience, and the forest industry is demanding that they stop!!

I’m not going to mention the “H” word because people get offended by that kind of language. Instead I’m giving these people the benefit of the doubt and assume the forest industry is now a champion of freedom and democracy. The right to protest is a fundamental cornerstone of democracy….even when you are on the receiving end of the protest!

From now on the forest industry will welcome protestors to the public forests with open arms, divided by values but brothers and sisters in freedom and democracy!

And we will hear no more rubbish about Anti-Protest Laws in Australia from either the forest industry or politicians, otherwise I will be forced to use the “H” word!!

It’s a New Age!!