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Tasmanian Blackwood Growers

Special Species Timber Management Plan Update #1


Continuing on from my previous blog:

and the invitation from Minister Paul Harriss to participate in the Special Species Timber Management Plan, I was contacted by Mr Blair Freeman from the consulting firm Indufor. We ended up talking for about an hour over the phone.

Here are some brief comments:

A survey form was sent out by Indufor to selected members of the special timbers industry to provide critical information with regard to industry preferences, demand for wood, drivers of demand and sensitivity of customers to market change.

SST Market Demand Survey Sawmillers

My one comment about the survey form was the obvious omission from the survey of any opportunity for stakeholders to make comments on strategic, political or policy issues. If special timbers stakeholders had any questions or concerns about any of these issues then the Minister and the Special Timbers Sub-Committee of the Ministerial Advisory Council are just not interested!

If logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at taxpayers’ expense is of any concern to stakeholders the Minister Paul Harriss doesn’t want to know about it!

So much for accurate and relevant information!

Given that just about all of my comments relate directly to strategic, political and policy issues around special timbers I found the survey form frustrating. Luckily Mr. Freeman anticipated my frustration and instead we opened up the conversation to address broader issues.

I see my business as being in direct competition with the Government/Forestry Tasmania. And I’m not short of criticism of my competitor.

Putting aside for one moment the political/policy issues, the one primary objective of the proposed Special Species Timber Management Plan should be to clearly demonstrate that growing and harvesting special timbers is profitable within normal competitive, transparent market processes.

The primary purpose of the Plan should not be to demonstrate the existence of a resource, nor of demand, nor analyse current employment or the characteristics of the special timbers marketplace. These issues are completely irrelevant without the fundamental commercial foundation of tree-growing profitability.

Value-adding begins in the forest or plantation and not at the sawmill or the furniture factory.

As far as I’m aware no study is being conducted into the profitability of growing special timbers as input into the proposed management plan. Using the “horse and cart” analogy, this proposed Management Plan will say much about the cart and tell us nothing at all about the horse! Just like the 2010 Special Timbers Strategy.

Mr Freeman indicated in our conversation an awareness of the politically-charged nature of their assignment, and Indufors limited ability to influence the outcome. Why they chose to take the job in the first place is an interesting question.

As I say on (too?) many occasions I think Tasmanian blackwood has a great future as an iconic profitable, farm-based industry; but not until we get the politics and ideology out and get the policy settings working properly.

Thanks to Mr. Blair Freeman for his time and interest. Good luck!

Only another 2 years before the Management Plan is completed/released.

Stay tuned!



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