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Tasmanian Blackwood Growers

Storey (sic) needs a happy ending

The Mercury 10/5/2014.

It was great seeing someone from the special timbers industry, who understands that peace is fundamental to the future of the forest industry getting some good media coverage.

John Young

John Young, wooden boat builder and founder of the Shipwrights Point School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Franklin, had many interesting comments and suggestions to make about the past and current state of the Tasmanian forest industry, and forest management. And while I totally agree that peace in the forests is the first priority and absolutely fundamental to the future of the industry, Mr Young’s comments and ideas raised more questions than provided answers.

As a special timbers commercial competitor on private land, Mr. Young’s comments left me with the impression he does not regard special timbers as a commercial resource requiring fully dedicated profit-driven commercial management. Such a position clearly undermines the ability of Tasmanian farmers to grow commercial blackwood. It also shows a great disregard for Tasmanian taxpayers who are currently subsidising the special timbers industry, while our State health and education systems are in financial crisis.

If Tasmania cannot maximise the sustainable commercial return from it’s public special timbers resource then it should not be logged. Special timbers should not continue to be managed as a taxpayer-funded community service.

My other concern regarding Mr Young’s comments is that I’ve been reading and hearing “alternative” forest management strategies like this for the past 30+ years.  All of the dreams of “if only they” and “why don’t they” of a better forestry world. I think what the past 30 years have clearly demonstrated is that these dreams have never amounted to anything. The politicians, Forestry Tasmania and the forest industry “heavy weights” have never expressed any interest in changing the pro-industrial mass-harvest forestry model. Not in any comprehensive meaningful way. Certainly the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement (TFA) showed no change at all to the status quo and neither has the new Liberal State government.

And now the sector of the forest industry most clearly disadvantaged by this pro-industrial model, the special timbers industry, is being used by the politicians and sectors of the community as the pretext for returning Tasmania to the forestry wars. Tearing up the TFA is all about the special timbers industry. Blatant naked hypocrisy!

There is not bright new happy future. There is no special timbers business plan or management plan.

I think after 30 years of failed “alternative” forestry dreams it should be obvious to just about everyone that the dreamers are now part of the problem. They are now being shamelessly manipulated for political ends. Keep dreaming and you help to feed the cycle of forestry conflict and failure.

The Tasmanian community has paid a huge price for the forestry wars and it is time to stop.

It is blatantly obvious after 30+ years that Tasmania does not have the skills required to commercially manage its public native forest in a manner that is sustainable, maximises commercial returns, whilst minimising social and political conflict.

It is time for the forest industry, including the special timbers industry, to move 100% onto private land. To me that seems the only way we will ever put the forestry wars behind us.

For Mr Young and the wooden boat builders that will be a difficult transition. Mr Young wants peace and a happy ending. But the past 30 years have shown the reality regarding boat building timbers on public land, and that reality shows no sign of changing. On the contrary the situation is getting worse.

The only happy ending that is now apparent will be when we end public native forest logging. The last State election demonstrated that beyond any doubt whatsoever.



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