I have received notice that my application for funding from the Churchill Trust for a four-week overseas tour to study blackwood cultivation, research and farmer experiences in New Zealand and Chile has not been successful. I failed to make the shortlist of Tasmanian applications that went to Canberra for final assessment.
May trip north
I was up north again last week visiting people. It was great meeting people who are interested in planting blackwood or who are keen to become involved in other ways. I saw some sites that will be very suitable for growing blackwood. Hopefully we will soon see some new blackwood plantations being established. Not all sites are suitable however. Some sites are clearly unsuitable, while others I currently class as marginal. As our experience and confidence grows in the future, some of these marginal sites may become suitable. But for now I want to recommend and concentrate on sites I have a high degree of confidence of success.
I had great conversations about various issues of plantation establishment. For example the size and type of planting stock to use, and how this affects protection strategies and costs. Site cultivation was also discussed. Where planting rates are so low (200 trees per hectare), spot cultivation seems to be the way to go. What is the most economical way to achieve this? www.wilco.co.nz, www.rotree.com.au.
New blackwood plantation
Here is the start of what will become a new 3 hectare blackwood plantation at Nubeena. Tree guards were cheaper than fencing for protection from wallabies and possums. The site has deep sandy loam soils, excellent shelter and rainfall. The weeds have been sprayed. With good spring rainfall I expect these trees to be well above the tree guards in 12 months time. There is native blackwood forest nearby that shows the site has reasonable blackwood potential which will improve with fertiliser and TLC. Watch this space!
The other day Professor Jonathon West made the dire prediction to a Legislative Council inquiry that the IGA would not be achieved, that the parties would fail to reach a negotiated settlement (Forestry peace goes: West). That would indeed be a sad outcome for the proposed blackwood growers cooperative. It totally boggles my mind that anyone can imagine that a return to the forestry wars will provide a better outcome, than the small beginning to a new future that the IGA represents.
Many people seem to have unrealistic expectations about the IGA. For my logic the IGA needs to be successfully negotiated within the context of further ongoing discussion and negotiations between the parties. After all, it is the establishment of ongoing trust and communication between the parties that is at the very heart of the IGA. The details are just a “means to an end”.