Yet another recently discovered private blackwood plantation.
It’s a common mantra in the forest industry in Australia that Australian farmers are reluctant to plant trees as a commercial crop.
For many years I believed this mantra and attributed it to the lack of support from the forest industry, markets and governments. Many government and industry reports have made similar findings.
The fact that the forest industry believes that transparent competitive markets, log prices and a level playing field are irrelevant to its future, doesn’t help.
However I recently had a revelation that undermines this mantra.
Driving around southern Tasmania I am always discovering new blackwood plantations on private farmland, and it suddenly dawned on me – Tasmanian farmers want to grow commercial blackwood, the evidence is everywhere!
I know of dozens of private blackwood plantations in southern Tasmania alone. In northern Tasmania there must be hundreds.
Virtually all of these plantations are small and have failed.
They have failed for a range of reasons:
- Poor site selection;
- Poor establishment;
- Lack of timely management and commitment;
- Stock and wildlife damage;
But I believe the major reason for the failure of these hundreds of private plantations is the lack of support and engagement (and demonstrably commercial behaviour) by the forest industry and the State government.
The government agency Private Forests Tasmania offers extension services to Tasmanian farmers, but clearly, after 45 years, this isn’t enough.
Private Forests Tasmania by itself cannot provide enough support, encouragement and motivation to turn this demonstrable passion for commercial blackwood into a success story.
And especially right now we have State government policy deliberately undermining any hopes of private commercial blackwood growers with the anti-commercial Special Timbers Management Plan:
Tasmanian farmers clearly demonstrate a passion for growing commercial blackwood, even within the context of decades of toxic, destructive forest politics and policy.
If only we could turn this passion into a success story.