Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tasmanian Primary Wood Processors Directory 2016

Having just come back from this field day up in the North West of Tasmania
http://www.pft.tas.gov.au/home/home_articles/north_west_tree_growers_field_day
my one overriding take home message was just how important sawmillers and wood processors are to the future of the forest industry.

They are the front line troops.

If they are struggling to survive then the forest industry doesn’t stand a chance. If they aren’t sending out constant positive supporting messages to tree growers then the forest industry is dead!!!!!

The sawmill we visited yesterday was trying hard to stay afloat, to remain viable, but they had no energy or resources to send positive messages or support to tree growers.

The forest industry in Tasmania is in crisis.

And our politicians play politics.

The field day was great, but the over riding message was one of despair and chaos.

And we are facing a 12 month bitter, divisive State election campaign where the forest industry will be used for political gain.

Oh Tasmania!!!

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

pft_tpwpd2016http://www.pft.tas.gov.au/publications/market_information

The 2016 Wood Processor Directory is now available from the Private Forests Tasmania website.

I’ve reviewed these Directories in previous years:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/10/07/tasmanian-primary-wood-processor-directory-2015/

This Directory is the sum total of “market information” that the forest industry in Tasmania wants the general public to see. Apparently the expectation is that farmers will rush out and invest in growing trees because of this directory. Or is it simply there to assist in the salvage of what remains of the private forest estate?

The Directory is a listing of 42 of the estimated 51 primary wood processors believed to be operating in the State of Tasmania. It has been primarily developed to help private forest owners with logs for sale to identify potential buyers as well as enabling the forest owner to more easily locate and contact primary wood processors.  The Directory also helps the listed primary wood processors to source logs from…

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Rise and Rise of Crony Capitalism….

Well there’s a surprise! The book The Rise and Fall of Gunns last night won the Tasmania Book Prize for 2015.
http://www.arts.tas.gov.au/industry_development/premiers_literary_prizes
Here’s what the judges had to say:
“The prospect of negotiating a better future out of the past is the subtext for all three books shortlisted for the Tasmania Book Prize. The judges singled out The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd as the winner because of its brave and non-partisan approach to an issue that for many Tasmanians is still raw, but nevertheless, is important and needs to be told. The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd tells a difficult and painful story that has had an impact on all aspects of Tasmanian politics and society. But good literature should raise uncomfortable questions. Nobody comes out of this meticulously researched history of the long-standing environmental wars looking good, but this is not a book about apportioning blame. It is an invitation for all of us to accept responsibility for the future.”
I absolutely agree with those comments. Cheers!

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

and the Destruction of the Tasmanian Community!

You can’t live in Tasmania without this book and the story it tells having a deep impact. If you are in anyway connected with the forest industry in Tasmania the impact is magnified tenfold. The book was recently released and is a timely reminder that Tasmania has significant political, commercial and social issues that remain unresolved.

The decade 2003-2013 saw Tasmania in a state of virtual civil war with Gunns Ltd at its epicentre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunns

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Bay_Pulp_Mill

The book has little to do with growing commercial blackwood apart from the fact that it details the corrupt hostile commercial, political and social context in which my dream of a blackwood growers cooperative is trying to become a reality.

Am I wasting my time? As a forester this book makes for sad, depressing reading.

If we can’t turn Australia’s number one premium appearance grade timber species…

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The Ultimate (Australian) Timber Price List

ARCPL

Now here is a timber price list to get the heart racing.

Australian Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) was once the premium appearance grade timber species in Australia. From the first days of European invasion to about the time of the First World War (140 years), this timber was chased from every pocket of rainforest up and down the east coast of Australia.

Many books have been written about this species and its history/exploitation. One fine example is:

John Vader (1987) Red Cedar: The Tree of Australia’s History. Reed Books, Sydney, NSW.

Much research and many attempts have been made to try and domesticate the species for growing in plantation. But the dreaded Cedar Tip Moth is a powerful and persistent enemy.

Australian Red Cedar is now commercially extinct, but limited quantities are sometimes available from salvaged trees.

It is a curious price list in that prices per cubic metre remain unchanged at between $8,000 and $10,000 per cubic metre for thicknesses up to 50mm.

Even for a rare and much sought-after timber these prices are not that extraordinary.

This flat pricing structure is typical of salvage timber where the price does not reflect the cost of growing the trees. Salvage timber is just a case of whatever comes along, big or small, long or short. There is no incentive/reward to the grower to replant.

But once you get into the large sizes, prices up to $17,100 per cubic metre definitely get the heart racing.

No wonder so much effort has been made trying to grow this tree commercially.

After the First World War the supplies of Australian Red cedar dropped dramatically and Tasmanian blackwood became Australia’s premier appearance grade timber species. It too is now on the verge of becoming commercially extinct due to overcutting of the public blackwood resource and decades of poor forest policy.

At these prices I’m surprised there is not more interest from investors and landowners in growing premium timber.

Isn’t this a business/investment opportunity going begging?

Will prices for Tasmanian blackwood soon resemble these prices for Australian Red Cedar?

For more information on blackwood and other timber price lists see:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/category/price-lists/

Wish List

With the current discussion about creating a single national farming body in place of the various State-based organisations such as the TFGA (see item 5. below) , I just realised the National Farmers Federation does not regard forestry as a primary industry. Very curious! They don’t regard Australia’s wine industry as a primary industry either. Clearly the NFF has a pretty myopic view of the rural sector.

http://www.nff.org.au/commodities.html

So there’s not much hope of getting support for private forestry from the NFF. Pity!

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

Makeawish

The forest industry in Tasmania is heading towards oblivion, at least the part of the industry dependent on the public native forest resource. Decades of poor policy, politics and conflict have reduced the industry to a smoking ruin. But we seem to have trouble learning from past mistakes and from other people’s successes. Getting people to invest in the forest industry (from planting trees to investing in sawmilling and processing equipment) just won’t happen under the current regime. So here is my one dozen wish list:

  1. We need to start thinking of forestry as a primary industry and not as a Government-run, politically-driven, employment program. Sure it has a few unique features like a long investment time lag, but forestry is about business and profits; markets, costs and prices. It is not about politics or employment! Most wood now grown and sold in Australia comes from private tree growers. It…

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Gagged!

Well that didn’t take long now did it?

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/sue-smith-quits-as-deputy-chair-of-the-ministerial-advisory-council-on-forestry/story-fnj4f7k1-1227434718852

And some nice reassuring words of departure from Ms Smith.

The Forestry Advisory Council is clearly only allowed to offer “advise” within a small gamut of opinions and options. Such a waste of effort.

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

gagged

Isn’t this just so predictable and pathetic?

Just when we start to get some real debate and transparency into the Tasmanian forestry wars along comes the Honourable Minister and slams the door.

It was so newsworthy that it made both the major State news media.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-19/forests-minister-tells-advisory-council-to-keep-opinions-private/6559572?section=tas

and

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/resources-minister-paul-harriss-puts-clamp-on-forestry-tasmania-talk/story-fnpp9w4j-1227406689089

What is the purpose of an advisory council if “everyone is on the same page”? That’s not an advisory council. That’s a political smokescreen, a whitewash!

The whole purpose of an advisory council, as Sue Smith said, is to promote and foster vigorous, open discussion and canvas as wide a range of opinions and options as possible.

The Tasmanian forest industry is going absolutely nowhere until the future of Forestry Tasmania is resolved. And after 21 years we know that the GBE business model has been a total failure. Forestry Tasmania remains the “albatross around the neck” of the forest industry.

So…

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Forestry Tasmania fate in balance

And the slow wheels of bureaucracy/Government continue….

http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3024692/serious-forestry-reforms-soon-hodgman/?cs=95

but apparently all will soon be revealed. Based on past experience one assumes these reforms will only make the situation worse, but time will tell. Time for another cup of tea will we wait some more..

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

Annells

http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2926663/forestry-tasmania-fate-in-balance/?cs=95

[The fate of] Forestry Tasmania hangs in the balance, with its chairman telling staff the company’s immediate future is entirely in the government’s hand.

In an email sent to Forestry Tasmania staff yesterday, chairman Bob Annells [pictured above] responded to mounting concerns that the cash-strapped company may be dissolved and folded into a government department.

[“folded into a government department” What an absolutely terrible idea! What Government department would it fit into? And what would be the point? It would fix none of the existing problems, and create even more new problems. A classic case of duck shoving!]

This article in today’s The Examiner tells us that things are pretty grim at the Government forest management agency.

While no official announcement has been made it now seems clear that FTs application for FSC Certification has been rejected. FSC auditors SCS Global were due to deliver their report last month.

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Tourism Council sees the light

TICT

The Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) is to be congratulated!

They understand the lessons of the last 30 years and the damage that a highly politicised forest industry has done to the economy of Tasmania.

They don’t want that to continue, especially if it directly threatens an important tourism brand/image.

In their submission to the Draft Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan the TICT makes explicitly clear their concerns about the economic, social and political risks of opening up large areas of the World Heritage Area to special timbers logging.

http://www.tict.com.au/tourism-industry-news/striking-a-balance-in-tasmanias-wilderness-world-heritage-areas

Page 14 of the TICT submission gives a nod of appreciation to the historic importance of the special timbers sector “as an important part of the Tasmanian retail tourism sector, and the contribution it makes to the Tasmanian visitor experience.”

The TICT also “supports a vibrant, sustainable and responsible specialty timber sector in Tasmania.”

But the TICT soundly rejects any notion that “vibrant, sustainable and responsible” equates to logging the World Heritage Area, threatening the image and integrity of the Tasmanian Wilderness brand, or casting Tasmania into another bitter decade of political and community conflict.

The “TICT does not support further extraction of timber from the TWWHA beyond the practices already permitted under the current Management Plan,” ie. Huon pine salvage on Macquarie Harbour.

The public-native-forest-dependent special timbers industry has never been sustainable. It has never had a business plan. Since 2010 it has been explicitly managed by Forestry Tasmania as a non-profit, non-commercial activity with significant costs being deliberately made against the Tasmanian taxpayer. Teachers, nurses and other front-line public services are being cut back whilst the special timbers industry enjoys preferential treatment.

Post-TCA the future of the public-native-forest-dependent special timbers industry is largely unknown except:

  • It will continue to be taxpayer subsidised;
  • It will continue to be highly politicised;
  • It will involve logging the TWWHA;
  • It will not gain FSC Certification;
  • A new special timbers strategy (not a business plan) will not be available until 2017;

With all of these current uncertainties and the lessons of the last 30 years the TICT is perfectly correct in wanting to avoid another damaging conflict around public native forest management; especially when it directly threatens our tourism image.

And as someone trying to establish a commercially focused, profitable, farm-based special timbers business the proposed logging of the World Heritage Area represents a direct threat to my business.

It is well past time for the forest industry to be run on a proper commercial basis in Tasmania.

The next step

The next step in the development of the [TWWHA Management] Plan is the consideration of the representations. To provide for transparency and accountability in finalising management plans the Act establishes a process for review of public representations involving the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC).  The Director of National Parks and Wildlife (the Director) will review all representations received and prepare a report which includes a summary of all representations, the Director’s opinion on the merit of each representation and whether modification of the management plan is required.

The Director will forward copies of all representations received, together with the Director’s report, to the TPC who will advertise the representations and the Director’s report for public viewing.  The TPC may hold hearings on the representations.  The TPC will review the representations and the Director’s report and the results of any public hearings held and will prepare a report to the Minister. The TPC’s report to the Minister will be published.

http://www.planning.tas.gov.au/