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Tasmanian Blackwood Growers

Through the Looking-Glass

Last Friday 18th February I attended a workshop run by Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) to review the current PFT Draft Strategic Plan.

I have been to these kinds of industry meetings before and am familiar with the conversations and outcomes.

I went along with no expectations.

Sadly I was not disappointed!!

Entering the workshop I felt very like Alice climbing through the looking-glass. I felt reality snap.

I looked around expecting to see the Mad Hatter. Thankfully the Minister had not been invited.

Having politicians at forest industry meetings is a guarantee that reality is absent.

In any forest industry meeting the elephants in the room always out numbers the humans. There are so many topics and issues that are deliberately avoided.

At the end of the workshop I was overwhelmed by the confirmation bias. People in the forest industry are still more or less thinking the same thoughts and saying the same things they were 40 years ago, despite the fact the forest industry is in critical decline.

As much as I tried to throw new ideas into the discussion they were for the most part heavily resisted.

It wasn’t all bad. Some new ideas are slowly creeping into the industry, but they are slow, and few and far between.

Just two examples will suffice here:

  1. The draft PFT Strategic Plan mentions the word “sustainable” four times, but the word “profit” (as in profitable tree growing) is completely absent. My push to have the word “profit” included in the Plan was strongly resisted.
  2. I suggested that Private Forests Tasmania should stop trying to be the voice of the private forest industry. I suggested that forest industry stakeholders should instead find their own confident voices, and it is PFTs task to support stakeholders, not speak for them. This idea too was resisted.

PFT has a total of 10 staff and a small budget, and yet the Strategic Plan is an overwhelmingly broad, wordy, complicated document. Instead of trying to achieve significant progress on a few things, PFT will make little progress on a very broad front.

There is nothing in the Strategic Plan for blackwood growers.

It’s a broken business model!

The Strategic Plan will be finalised based on feedback from the workshop, incorporated into the PFT Corporate Plan, which then goes to the Mad Hatter/Minister for signing.

You can find the current Corporate Plan here:

PS. Given that the current Strategic Growth Plan for the Tasmanian forest industry does not even mention Private Forests Tasmania, we can be sure that little progress will be made in the coming years.



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