A dedicated Government agency fostering the private forestry sector seems like a great idea at face value.
Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) is the only government-funded authority established in Australia to specifically promote, foster and assist the private forestry sector on forestry matters. We provide strategic and policy advice to Government on private forestry issues and represent Tasmanian private forest owners’ interests nationally.
But as soon as you start thinking about it the idea doesn’t look so good, especially when the Government is itself a major player in the industry in terms of wood production, market domination and control, and industry policy.
What happens when Government policy is in direct conflict with the interests of private forest growers as it often is? PFT cannot come out and oppose Government policy. They are Government employees after all.
And as for providing policy advice to Government that must present quite a challenge within a policy vacuum. The PFT website has no policies so what it says to Government remains a complete mystery.
Where’s the policy for the Radiata industry?
Where’s the policy for the pulpwood industry?
And where’s the policy for the high-value appearance grade timbers industry, including blackwood?
And where are the policies around the changes that are needed to the Forest Practice Code around plantation establishment and management?
And how about some policies about greater competition, price and market transparency?
I could go on….
And what about a PFT business plan?
You know a plan with goals and objectives and performance benchmarks and criteria, and a regular review process.
At least they have Vision and Mission statements.
But that seems to be about as far as it goes.
Sustainable private forestry in Tasmania as an integral and crucial part of our social fabric, economic well-being and a healthy environment in which soil, water and biodiversity are valued and widely used.
To facilitate the sustainable management of native and plantation forestry on private land in Tasmania. This mission includes:
- encouraging commercial wood production;
- encouraging the use of trees in land management;
- promoting the environmental benefits of trees and forests;
- promoting opportunities for competitive markets; and
- optimising returns for all parties.
That mission statement should be clearly divided into a Commercial Wood Production and Other sections.
Regular community forums wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
And a plan of action for implementing the 2005 National Action Statement on Farm Forestry wouldn’t hurt either.
Don’t get me wrong. PFT could be a really great organisation but it remains fundamentally conflicted whilst the Government dominates the forest industry.
The objectives of the Government as a grower, price manipulator and policy maker, are not the same as those of private forest growers.
The only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growers. The PFT website doesn’t seem to mention them.