Monthly Archives: July 2014

Overcutting of the public blackwood sawlog resource to continue

Tasmania’s icon blackwood industry is well and truly heading for a complete wipeout.

Future supplies of blackwood timber, veneer and craftwood from Tasmania’s public native forests are looking increasingly endangered as Forestry Tasmania continues to overcut the resource well above sustainable yield.

I outlined in a recent blog the sad past management of the public blackwood resource, in response to the recent release by Forestry Tasmania of a new Review of the Sustainable Sawlog Supply from the Blackwood Management Zone (BMZ).

Now Forestry Tasmania has released its latest Three Year Wood Production Plan.

This plan shows that blackwood sawlog will continue to be harvested from Tasmania’s public native forests at 10,000 cubic metres of sawlog per year for the next three years. The current sustainable sawlog yield is estimated to be 3,000 m3 sawlog per year.

In the name of internationally certified (PEFC/AFS) responsible forest management Forestry Tasmania will be harvesting 3 times the sustainable yield of blackwood for the next three years.

Here’s an update of the chart from the above blog with this new information:

Incomplete history plus 3YP

Chart notes:

  1. The 1991 Forest and Forest Industry Strategy (FFIS) set a blackwood supply target of 10,000 m3 of blackwood sawlogs per year.
  2. The 1997 Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) reaffirmed the FFIS blackwood sawlog supply target.
  3. The Forestry Tasmania 1999 Review of the sustainable blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) sawlog supply from Tasmanian State forest calculated the Statewide sustainable yield of blackwood sawlog at 8,500 m3 of blackwood sawlogs per year. The figure for just the BMZ was 6,800 m3 of blackwood sawlogs per year, with the remainder coming from the rest of the State.
  4. The Forestry Tasmania 2010 Special Timbers Strategy (STS) continued to reaffirm the blackwood supply target of 10,000 m3 of blackwood sawlogs per year until 2019.
  5. The Forestry Tasmania 2013 Review of the Sustainable Sawlog Supply from the Blackwood Management Zone (BMZ) recalculates the blackwood sawlog sustainable yield at 3,000 m3 per year. Production of blackwood sawlog from public forest outside the BMZ is expected to be negligible.
  6. Planned blackwood sawlog harvest according to the Forestry Tasmania 2015-2017 Three Year Wood Production Plan.
  7. Actual blackwood production figures from 1991 to 2006 are not publically available. The 2013 Review only provides actual blackwood sawlog production figures from 2008. Forestry Tasmania wood production dropped dramatically following the 2007 GFC.

Q. Can a company that operates at a loss achieve FSC certification?

A. 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.

This bombshell of a response comes from the document Talking Points and Frequently Asked Questions Forestry Tasmania Preliminary FSC Assessment (0.5MB pdf) from the website of SCSGlobal Services, the company acting as FSC assessors for Forestry Tasmania.

I have written before about how current forest policy, management and practice in Tasmania creates significant obstacles to private tree growers and private (especially small scale) forest investment.

In my view one of the significant obstacles is the complete lack of commercial focus and commercial management at Forestry Tasmania. And I’m not talking about a single bad year. I’m talking about systematic long-term commercial mismanagement that has been documented and reviewed over many years by John Lawrence and others.

How are current and potential future private tree growers supposed to compete against one of the State’s largest forest growers that behaves as a community service not a business?

And now based on their preliminary assessment the FSC assessors are saying that this sad situation is perfectly acceptable to the FSC.

This is just extraordinary!

FSC are prepared to gold-plate Forestry Tasmania’s continued anti-competitive and anti-commercial practices, as long as Tasmanian taxpayers are prepared to keep wasting money.

How can this result in good forest management outcomes?

How can this rebuild Tasmania’s competitive, efficient, profit-driven forest industry?

It can’t! Quite the opposite!

Forestry Tasmania should not be given FSC Certification whilst it continues to operate as a loss-making, community service forest manager.

The Forest Stewardship Council should not encourage and support the destruction of commercial value of public and private forests.

If you are concerned about this ridiculous outcome then:

SCS Global Services welcomes comments on the forest management practices of any of the applicants listed below [including Forestry Tasmania], or other topics pertinent to their seeking FSC certification. Comments can be submitted via email to Brendan Grady (, SCS Director of Forest Management Certification, or by completing the online Stakeholder Questionnaire. All comments and sources will be kept in strict confidence at the request of the commenter.

I seek your support in helping to overturn this pending disaster.