Monthly Archives: December 2021

Facing the inevitable

Back in 2013 I wrote this piece about Murray Kidman and his business Otway Tonewoods:

Murray has been running a small business harvesting blackwood from public native forest in the Otway Ranges in south west Victoria, supplying the tonewood market.

As I said back then, Murray has been operating on borrowed time with the inevitable closure of public native welfare forestry in Victoria.

That time has now come.

But Murray and his son James are determined to fight to the last!

They have started a petition calling for the continuation of public native welfare forestry in Victoria:

Murray’s two main customers, Maton and Cole Clark, are remaining silent about the situation. They understand the risks involved in wading into the deeply divisive Forestry Wars.

It is likely that most guitarists would favour saving our public native forests from logging vs saving the Kidman business.

How can you claim your business is sustainable when clearly the tonewood market is anything but sustainable?

The story of Otway Tonewoods is just another step on the long slow decline of the tonewood market in Australia. The music marketplace refuses to take any responsibility for its own future.

How many people in Australia own a guitar or other musical instrument made from wood? How many of these people make a living from their music?

How many music festivals are there in Australia?

How many music shops are there in Australia?

All of this will disappear unless someone starts growing tonewoods and is openly supported by the marketplace!

Sitting on our hands waiting for politicians or someone else to fix the problem just wont work.

Trying to prop up a failed industry (public native welfare forestry) wont work.

It is disappointing that neither Maton nor Cole Clark wont even start a conversation about the future supply of tonewoods. Crisis! What crisis??

They want us to believe that the future supply of tonewoods is completely under control. Is the shutting down of Otway Tonewoods part of their sustainable future?

When will the marketplace wake up?

It can’t whilst Maton and Cole Clark continue their current charades.

With all due respect to Murray and James Kidman, their social license is about to expire with no option for renewal.

Will it be a turning point for the music industry in Australia?

I sincerely hope so!!

National Farm Forestry Strategy

Over the last 40 years there have been numerous strategies and reports written about farm forestry in Australia and the various issues and challenges it faces (someone needs to do a literature review). Many recommendations have been made and few if any recommendations have ever been implemented.

So here we are in 2021 and history is repeating itself once again.

The Federal Government wants to produce a National Farm Forestry Strategy.

The idea of Farm forestry was initiated in Australia in the mid-1960s. And here we are 50+ years later and pretty much nothing has happened.

Why has farm forestry failed in Australia?

Because politics and forestry welfare have always trumped profitable tree growing, ie. farm forestry. That was true 50 years ago and is still true today.

Reading the “Background” section on this Federal Government website just makes me cringe!! Is this some kind of prospectus? If so it is a 100% failure!

Is farm forestry about profitable tree growing? Apparently not!

All this glossy forest industry rhetoric will be familiar to some people, who will shake with fear as it rekindles memories of the Managed Investment Schemes (MIS), Australia’s biggest ever corporate swindle.

Farm forestry is still competing against Government sawmill welfare and a forest industry dominated by rentseekers and protectionist policies. Profitable tree growing is not on anyone’s agenda. Tree planter beware!!

My previous blog about functional wood markets is very relevant here.

Farm forestry will continue to struggle in Australia until we establish proper functioning wood markets, and that must be driven by the marketplace not politicians, bureaucrats and rentseekers.

We definitely need a National Farm Forestry Strategy but the focus must be on profitable tree growing, developing commercial credibility in the forest industry, and coordinating the support of the marketplace.

Species, locations, markets, prices, supply, demand, costs, etc..

It is not about providing subsided logs to local businesses!

Competitive transparent markets must be supported, including log export markets.

In New Zealand no one talks about farm forestry, because in NZ the Government plays no part in the forest industry. Farmers growing trees IS the forest industry in New Zealand.

Anyway the NFFS survey has 12 simple questions

The survey closes on 17 December 2021.

Good luck!