It seems many people are hoping that the new Tasmanian Forest Products Association (TFPA) will offer the forest industry a chance for a new beginning. I have to say after 40 years in the industry that seems unlikely.
But never mind! As someone famous once said “There is always hope!”
Here are a few of my thoughts about what the TFPA is facing and what the challenges are (in no particular order):
- The biggest issue facing the REAL forest industry is the WELFARE forest industry – everyone who works or depends upon public native forest wood. Public native forestry generates bad media like there is no tomorrow. It starves the real forest industry of oxygen!
It’s not as if the real forest industry has been working hard to create positive media, but they don’t stand a chance whilst the public and marketplace perception is dominated by WELFARE forestry.
Public native forestry is the stinking albatross around the industry’s neck!
- The TFPA needs to think differently, speak differently and project a completely new message to the community. Speak and behave like you mean “business”. Whatever you do, do not keep repeating the tired boring messages of the last 50 years!!
You need to get the farming and broader community onboard.
The community is not your enemy!
This means keeping a visible and significant distance from politicians. In Tasmania that will be difficult! Tasmanian politicians are like leeches. They climb up our legs and bleed us.
If the community sees you playing politics, you are dead!
- Cutting down trees, sawing up or chipping logs has always been the easiest part of the forest industry. The hardest part is getting people to plant, grow and manage trees for future wood production! That means the focus of the industry must be on PROFITABLE TREE GROWING! And it must be a planned, collective approach to expand and grow the industry. Individual businesses cannot do this.
- The forest industry in New Zealand is one of the most successful in the world. We can learn much from them.
- Competition, level playing fields and market transparency are fundamental to the future of the industry! Numerous reports have been saying this for decades! JUST DO IT!!!
- If you adopt any of the above ideas you will come under intense pressure from your mainland colleagues who regard all of these ideas as anathema. Nevermind! Stay strong! Someone has to break the cycle of failure that has cursed our industry.
All of the above makes for a very long hard road ahead for the TFPA.
But the only alternative is extinction.
We are in the fight of our lives.