“..we will take wood….”


It didn’t take long.

No sooner had UNESCO ruled out logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area than the Tasmanian Government and sectors of the special timbers industry are already setting themselves up for yet another conflict with consumers, the environment movement and the Tasmanian community.

Tasmanian forest policy especially around so called special timbers just keeps going from the sublime to the ridiculous in a never ending spiral of senseless politics, waste, conflict and stupidity.

We are all being played for fools.




Here’s the press release from the Resources Minister Peter Gutwein (above):


Much of the information in the press release is old news as shown on the Department of State Growth website:


But the rhetoric in the press conference is clearly hostile and inflammatory. With a State election campaign coming up in 2017 forestry is yet again going to be one of the key election issues.

“…I’m not going to point the finger at anyone, but they know who they are…”

“..we will take wood…”

This is now very personal and vindictive, and above all else political.

It’s not about business.

It’s not about profitable tree growing.

It’s about taking wood [a public resource] and giving it to the “deserving” regardless of the cost or consequences.

When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?

What can I do?

What can Tasmanian farmers do in the face of such relentless reckless commercial-opportunity and market-destroying stupidity?

8 responses to ““..we will take wood….”

  1. Gordon, …….. And you have thrown your hand in with the wrong mob. They don’t like plantations either… In fact, they want no kind of forestry at all. Good luck with getting Blackwood plantations off the ground, I am not opposed to them, but don’t seek to achieve it by attacking access to native forests for other species of slow-growing Special Timbers, because the rest of us will have to oppose you. As well, there is a legitimate demand for the configuration and complexity of grain and dimensions of material that can only be found in old Blackwoods grown in natural chaos. This is a message I am only sending directly to you, I am not spraying it around social media, but I am pissed off with the nonsense you spread around. cheers, G.

    Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2016 21:26:34 +0000 To: georgeharris854@hotmail.com

    • Hi George,
      My “mob” is the Tasmanian community, and a great many of the community are thoroughly sick and tired of the forestry wars, the forest industry and our politicians.

      As a professional forester I am absolutely disgusted with the behaviour of the public native forest industry including the STA. I’m also pissed off with about 90% of our State politicians.

      George you have been against my proposal from the beginning. Anyone who wants to play politics and perpetuate the forestry wars is against good profitable commercially-focused forestry.

      Every time a politician opens his/her mouth and starts talking about the forest industry, the forest industry dies a little more. It’s a long slow painful death but that seems to be exactly what you want. I don’t understand your logic at all George.

      I don’t give a **** about your so called “legitimate demand”. It’s rubbish! It’s like saying there is a legitimate demand for rhino horn and ivory.

      You don’t have a moral soapbox to stand on George. Most of humanity gave up killing elephants and whales long ago. It’s time that wood workers did the same with the remnants of our oldgrowth forests.

      It’s over George!! And the more you fight it the worse the outcome for everybody.


    • You hear this claim a bit about extra feature in old growth Australian species. Is there anything to it with respect to blackwood? Fiddelback in heartwood is fiddleback in heartwood. I understand genetics and site quality may have an influence but I don’t see why this feature would differ in a big DBH tree from a plantation or a big tree from a native forest. And perhaps less likely to have crotch rot or borer damage in a younger tree at a given DBH that’s been well managed in a plantation.

      • Hi David,

        I’m sure George has his own theories on fiddleback.

        I’ve heard a lot of theories about fiddleback.

        The bottom line is that there is next to no research on wood grain and feature in any tree species to be able to definitive say anything.

        My own theory is that it is part physiological (stress due to wind/gravity) especially around the stump and branch crotches, and part genetics where the feature extends a long way up the stem.

        I know a few people who have attempted to clone fiddleback in blackwood. I have never heard what the results were.

        Cloning fiddleback only makes sense in the context of a commercially driven blackwood industry. We are still waiting for a commercially driven blackwood industry to appear…



  2. Gordon, can we have some updates?
    You posted of a 1 year old tree that was 2.5m tall and you suggested a 6m straight stem might be achieveable by age 2, I was thinking an extra 1m height by age 2 was more realistic. What about your trees, how are they progressing and has 1 tree planted at 8m spacing worked? I want to see real results over time, not hear about politics and guitars every post.

    • Hi Stu,

      Just because I’m a forester doesn’t mean I don’t take an interest in markets and forest politics. It’s all important information.

      It’s just unfortunate that here in Tasmania forestry IS politics.

      The original 8m spacing (200 sph) trial located outside Hobart is now 9 years old.

      Since planting in 2007 only 2 years have been about average rainfall. The other 7 years have been below to well below average. This falling rainfall is definitely starting to have an affect on growth and form of the blackwoods, with reduced height growth and heavier branching.

      The other major issue with the site is wind exposure, with well over half the trees having suffered wind damage sometimes severe.

      Despite this I’m confident that on a good site the 8x8m spacing is a good option for people thinking of growing commercial blackwood, who want to minimise the thinning/pruning workload.

      I have a few other positive news stories “in the pipeline” but am waiting on the owners of those stories to provide me with details so I can write something.

      I’m always looking for good news stories about blackwood, but I can’t ignore the bad news stories. The guitar industry is very good at providing positive news. I’m still waiting for a positive news story from the furniture industry.


  3. Based on what Ive seen on our block – excellent blackwood and silver wattle territory in the Strzeleckis – I think 6m tall at 3 years old would be pushing it for a blackwood. And they would be very skinny. I’d need to pay more attention to when they emerge but my feeling is that some volunteer trees in shelterbelts where they’re heavily shaded can get up to 3m or so after perhaps 3 growing seasons. But very skinny. And I have seen some more widely planted trees hitting 3m+ in 3 spring-summer-autumn growing periods with decent diameter growth albeit with a bushier habit. We have some big blackwoods on our place and in the area which I’ll collect some seed from and do some more systematic planting probably next year.

    We had crap rainfall in late spring and in January until just before Feb. We’ve had some good falls since but episodic, not nicely distributed over summer which can be a feature in the Strzeleckis. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come as we would generally expect to plant in late winter and early spring with the trees having time to get established enough to survive over the first summer with some rainfall. We had to do some supplementary watering this year which takes a lot of time with large numbers of trees.

    As Stuart and Gordon would know, other SE Australian natives like bluegum, mountain grey gum and mountain ash can get tall quickly in a plantation at a good site. 6m ash or bluegum at 3 would be quite achievable. But the eventual timber would not be as valuable as blackwood is potentially.

    But IMO you don’t want them tall and skinny but rather developing the 6m sawlog at 50cm+ as quickly as possible. We have a eucalypt I need to identify planted down near near one of the creeks which is a bit over ten years old and already nearly 60cm DBH over bark but not very tall. Ideal spot in that it’s sheltered, near permanent water and some edge effect in that it can get its roots into the paddock but it shows what is possible. Will be interesting to mill it at some point to see how much sapwood and the timber quality.

    • David,
      My only comment here is that I agree with your take on height vs diameter growth. The two are generally mutually exclusive. Height growth comes from strong competition and demand for light. Strong diameter growth comes from freedom from competition.

      With blackwood plantations the emphasis is on diameter growth, especially since the science says that speed of growth has little affect on blackwood wood properties such as density and heartwood colour.

      So short(er) and fat blackwoods is the goal!!


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