Hooray for Peter Adams

The Talking Point in today’s Mercury newspaper by furniture designer/maker and artist Peter Adams is a rare and much welcome alternative opinion in the ongoing nonsense around special timbers and the prospect of logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.



It is just so rare for someone within the forest industry to come out and publically challenge the current industry and policy orthodoxy.

From today forward, all timber workers, myself included, have to re-examine their use of speciality timbers.

That said, what I will never do is use any timber cut within the boundaries of a World Heritage Area. Nor should anyone.

My suggestion to Peter Adams and others (including consumers) is to:

  1. Use only farm-grown Tasmanian timbers;
  2. encourage Tasmanian farmers to grow more quality wood;
  3. pay Tasmanian farmers a price for their wood that reflects its real value and encourages more tree planting;
  4. support organisations such as mine that seek to encourage and teach farmers how to grow commercial blackwood in both plantations and remnant native forest.

Wood is not a taxpayer-subsidised community service. It is a commercial product.

Planting trees and managing plantations and forests costs real time and money.

The only way for Tasmania to have a successful forest industry, and realise the vision of Peter Adams, is for tree growing to be blatantly and transparently profitable.

Only Tasmanian farmers can make this happen; farmers who are passionate about growing a quality product.

I was up in the north west of the State this week for the first time in a while, and driving around imagining a rural landscape dotted with well managed forest remnants and plantations of blackwood. Instead I saw opportunities being wasted. Most farms have wet gullies, steep slopes and small areas too difficult to manage. Good land going to waste. These areas are just ideal for growing commercial blackwood.

One of the key things missing is the right commercial and political context to get these areas planted.

Peter Adams points the way to the future.

8 responses to “Hooray for Peter Adams

  1. I agree with your comment Gordon, farmers should be encouraged to grow more timbers for craft workers, but to say that wood should only be sourced from farmers is wrong, people like me and others have invested heavily to be able to provide timber for musical instrument makers and craft workers, I work with farmers to get the best price for there logs, farmers have enough work to doing running a farm without milling timber as well, we can all work together.
    Please think of others Gordon before posting comments like this as you know how much I have put in to seeing this working with the blackwood coop.
    I will never supply wood from WHA.
    Best regards Bob

    • Hi Bob,
      My apologies for an unintended ambiguity.
      I did not mean that people should only buy their timber directly from farmers.
      I meant that when people go to their retailer/wholesaler/hardware/sawmiller/tonewood merchant they should ask for farm-grown timber.

      You are absolutely right! Most farmers have no time or interest in sawmilling. Leave that to the experts.

      I hope that is no longer ambiguous.

      Thanks for correcting my mistake.


  2. Sourcing specialty timbers from WHAs is perhaps too controversial to get certification and a social licence. Sourcing from native forests outside WHAs, done correctly and economically, should be undertaken where feasible. Even if it costs $500-$1000 a cube to extract, it can return a lot more eg: blackheart sassy log sales through IST. The value of the end products can be staggering.
    BUT, it has to be done on a small scale (and completely different to how it has been done in the past), environmentally sound and return a profit. Tassie has one of the largest reserve systems in the world, why not have a sustainable small scale specialty timber industry based on what’s not in reserve? It needn’t involve clear felling or wood chips, just the extraction of sawlogs and craftwood through single tree selection.
    Many tourists like to take home something uniquely Tasmanian. Sure, you can grow plantation blackwood on farms but to stop sourcing timber from native forests would put an end to myrtle, sassy, huon, celery, leatherwood, horizontal, plus many jobs and real value to the Tassie economy.
    Forests are not static, they are a moving mosaic of forest types over time and space. Trees rot, suffer wind damage and eventually fall over. Why not use just a small proportion of that resource to create some jobs and that uniquely Tasmanian product?

    • Hi Stu
      I think for a great number of Tasmanians even the idea of more nonsense in our forests outside the WHA is now a “bridge too far”. And the harder the politicians and forest industry mandarins try and push it with a “political” solution, the worse the final outcome will be. There is no trust in our politicians and bureaucrats.

      As long as we continue to log ANY public native forest the politics and nonsense will continue. Witness the call this week in NSW by the forest industry to open up the National Parks to logging. The stupidity just never stops.


      So all of the “what ifs…” and “if onlys…” are just perpetuating this nonsense. The sooner forestry becomes a private business and not a taxpayer-funded community service the better it will be for everyone.


  3. Gordon, logging of native forests will continue for some time yet. Like it or not, both sides of politics are effectively ‘locked in’ via contracts with mills. Pulling the pin would see potentially hundreds of millions in compensation claims from mills, harvest and transport businesses.
    I’d be confident to say that most people would accept a small scale special timbers industry based on light selective harvesting if done the right way.

    • Looks like the furniture piece is made from myrtle and huon!

      • Quite likely. But Peter Adams quite happily admitted his use of these timbers in the past in the article. His point was that he is changing and he hopes that others do likewise. And good on him for that. I hope others in the industry also speak out.

    • Stu,
      When FT have withdrawn a few more $100 million from State Treasury then the doors will close for good.

      The key there is “if done the right way”. There are 20 people who want this to happen and 1000’s who would oppose it very strongly. If attempted it would open yet another pandoras box of stupidity, conflict and waste. It’s just not going to happen.


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