This message arrived in my email recently:
Private Forests Tasmania, Institute of Foresters of Australia, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and the Forest Practices Authority seek your opinion on growing trees on your property, the benefits and barriers that you face.
Could you please assist us by participating in this 5 minute survey. If you would like to know more, please consider attending a field day. Please complete by 7th March 2019.
I’m heartened by the presence of the TFGA in the above list, but disheartened by the absence of FIAT/TFFPN.
I’ve copied the survey questions here:
- Do you currently, or have you in the past, had a tree plantation or native forest growing on your property? Y/N
- Do you know that trees can benefit your overall farm production? Y/N/Some
- Livestock – welfare, weight gain, survival rates, milk yields, shelter.
- Crops and pasture – pasture production, drought protection, water evaporation, wind.
- Biodiversity – soil erosion, wildlife habitat, climate change.
- Financial – trees are money in the bank.
- If any, what do you consider are the barriers to planting and growing trees on your property?
(You may select more than one answer).
- No barriers
- Time poor
- Establishment costs
- Not enough benefits
- Lack of incentives
- Management costs
- Harvesting costs
- Lack of information
- Loss of agricultural land
- Time it takes trees to grow
- Market uncertainty and low returns
- Other (please specify)
- Do you plan on adding trees to your property in the future? Y/N/Maybe
- Would you consider planting trees if you had any of the following?
(You may select more than one option).
- Financial assistance
- A Joint Venture with a forest company
- A better understanding of how trees can contribute to your overall farm profitability
- A better understanding of how trees can benefit your livestock, crops and pasture
- You could receive carbon credits
- You had access to good tree planting advice and assistance
- Other (please specify)
- What are your overall thoughts on tree growing?
- Would you consider attending field days to learn more about planting trees on your property and the benefits to you? Y/N/Maybe
- What would you specifically like to learn about at field days?
- (You may select more than one option).
- Livestock benefits
- Crop & pasture benefits
- Shelter and windbreaks
- Financial benefits
- Carbon credits
- Plantation establishment
- Other (please specify)
- Please provide any additional comments or feedback.
- Would you like to join our mailing list to receive up to date information on private forest matters in Tasmania? Y/N
- Your details
- Address 2
- Postal Code
- Email Address
- Phone Number
As a forester I read this survey and think – NOTHING HAS CHANGED! The forest industry thinks exactly the same way today as it did 50 years ago!!
How is that humanly possible?
Given what has happened in Tasmania over the last 50 years how can people NOT change?
This is just extraordinary.
The forest industry has spent the last 50 years lurching from crisis to failure to crisis. The forest industry today is a mere shadow of yesteryear, but still the attitude and thinking remains unchanged.
I could just as easily write a survey for members of the forest industry to respond too, because for me the weight of inertia and lack of vision lies not with Tasmanian farmers, but with members of the forest industry (most broadly defined).
Firstly let me state plainly:
Tasmania will never have a proper forest industry while we continue to log public native forest! The past 50 years proves that beyond any doubt whatsoever!
Growing trees for wood production is business. Not politics! Not community service! Not ideology! Not subsidy!
Many/most people in the Tasmanian forest industry choke on either or both of these statements.
And therein lies the problem.
Progress with Tasmanian farmers in building a new forest industry is not possible whilst the old mindset remains.
And I see no indication of such change.
Private Forests Tasmania, and its predecessor the Private Forestry Division within the old Forestry Commission, has been around for almost 50 years!!
PFT should have been doing these surveys every 2-5 years since it formed. I know there have been farmer surveys in the past but obviously nothing came of the results.
Here are two examples of how the New Zealand forest industry engages with farmers:
I don’t know ANY company in Australia that behaves like this.
And does this survey mean that no one in the forest industry including retailers, manufacturers as well as sawmillers, has any ideas on how to engage with farmers? No ideas at all on how to motivate, recognise, reward and encourage Tasmanian farmers to grow quality timber?
If that is the case then it is little wonder that the forest industry is in such dire straits. There is no mental capacity there whatsoever!
If the forest industry wants to genuinely engage with Tasmanian farmers it doesn’t need an opinion survey. Let’s see some real honest genuine engagement!!!
When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?