Some of the best private native blackwood forest I’ve ever seen

IST 0515 log 16

I recently visited a property in North East Tasmania after the owner asked me to come and assess his blackwoods.

What I saw was 8 ha of some of the best private native blackwood forest I’ve ever seen.

The owner had only recently bought the property and was wondering what to do with the blackwoods.

Although the forest is unmanaged it has obviously been logged in the past and even now contains some first class blackwood sawlogs ready to be harvested, with plenty of good quality young trees coming on.

The forest clearly has tremendous blackwood growing potential, with opportunity to increase the commercial productivity 10-20 fold with some active management.

And what’s more the owner seems genuinely keen.

If we had 50 properties like this we could double the total blackwood production in Tasmania.

The problem is we have Government and industry policy that does not support and encourage profitable private blackwood growers.

Recent Island Specialty Timbers log tender results have shown good quality plain-grain blackwood logs achieving (mill-door equivalent) prices up to $900 per cubic metre for individual logs.

What would the market pay for 10 truckloads of such logs?

https://www.islandspecialtytimbers.com.au/

Would the industry and the market support and encourage landowners to do this?

Certainly the Tasmanian Government has absolutely NO intention of supporting and encouraging landowners to grow commercial blackwood.

One possible scenario could have this north east landowner harvesting 200 cubic metres of premium blackwood sawlog every five years in 30 years time, with no major investment and a small amount of annual labour input.

At $900 per cubic metre that equates to $180,000 every five years from those 8 ha of blackwood forest.

So far this landowners enquiries into the market have not been encouraging.

It is truly amazing how hard log merchants and sawmillers work to discourage tree growers and hence destroy their own future. It has been this way for generations!

If the forest industry is to have a future it requires a complete cultural change – nay a revolution!

I’m looking forward to helping this landowner achieve a positive outcome for his native blackwood forest.

If anyone wants to help support this landowner please contact me.

PS. In the 2017 Private Forests Tasmania “Tasmania Primary Wood Processor Directory” there are 15 processors listed as buying blackwood logs from private growers. Are any of these processors interested in supporting this NE blackwood grower? Or are they all just thinking about themselves and tomorrow?

As I’ve said before selling timber is easy! Getting people to grow timber is way more difficult. Who’s for the challenge???

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Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT)

fiat2019

https://www.fiatas.com.au/

When the Liberal Party won the 2014 Tasmanian State election and scrapped the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT), which basically represents the Crown sawmillers and which has dictated forest policy in Tasmania for generations, was left bloodied, bruised and depleted.

For the last 4 years the FIAT website has not been updated at all, reflecting the disintegrating condition of public native forestry in Tasmania.

And now I go to their website and find this!

The FIAT website used to have all sorts of forestry propaganda.

Now the FIAT website is reduced to a single16 word sentence!!

THAT’S IT!!

Clearly public native forestry in Tasmania is at crisis point!

FIAT might think they are “committed” but history clearly shows nothing but decades of forest industry conflict and wreckage.

As I have been saying for many years the only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable private tree growers and no one in the industry in Tasmania (including FIAT) has any interest in such a future.

This sad pathetic plea from FIAT feels very much like a last desperate gasp.

I have been a professional forester in Tasmania for the past 40 years. For it to come to this is very sad indeed, but so utterly predictable…

 

Blackwood retail price update

I reported on this Tasmanian blackwood retailer previously:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/06/07/another-blackwood-timber-price-list/

Once again the best way to represent this price list is to sort the boards by volume per linear metre. There are still price anomalies that are not due to differences in size or grade.

This sawmiller/retailer specialises in Tasmanian “specialty timbers”.

These timbers obviously come from Tasmanian public native forest, which as everyone should know by now, comes to market at great cost to Tasmanian taxpayers, the plundering of the last of our oldgrowth and rainforest, and the logging of our Conservation Reserves.

These facts don’t seem to worry many people. This retailer has plenty of support.

Welcome to the Tasmanian forest industry!

sjt2-18pl

These are retail prices for kiln-dried and dressed blackwood. This price list includes select, feature and bark-edge grades – can you spot the difference in price between the grades?

The prices which last time were north of $8,000 per cubic metre have dropped back. Obviously the local market is not prepared to pay that kind of price at the moment. Otherwise blackwood prices have remained stable over the past 12 months.

That Tasmanian blackwood timber can command these prices but is not grown commercially in Tasmania is one of life’s many mysteries.

It could also be called a failure of Government and industry policy, and a failure of the marketplace.

Cheers!

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival

AWBF

An item in the Tasmanian weekend press reminded me that Tasmania’s biggest wood-based festival is returning in 2019.

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) has become a major event on many boat/yacht owners calenders.

https://www.australianwoodenboatfestival.com.au/

What began in 1994 has now become a major national and international festival.

For a small island State at the bottom of the world a wooden boat festival makes perfect sense for Tasmania, with its dual heritage of boats and forests.

The problem is, like so many other wood-based festivals, the AWBF is completely silent on the issue of where the wood comes from.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/02/13/all-about-the-wood-nothing-about-the-growers/

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/02/19/maleny-wood-expo/

Tasmania has a heritage of renowned boating timbers such as King billy pine, Huon pine and Celery top pine. The problem is that these timbers come from very slow growing trees from ancient rainforests that are now mostly gone or are in conservation reserves.

Some Huon pine and Celery top pine continues to come from hydro lake salvage, but this is a finite resource.

Last year the Tasmanian government enacted a management plan that allows the harvesting of rainforest timbers from conservation reserves that were established specifically to protect rainforest under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2017/10/23/tasmanian-rainforest-plunder/

Given Tasmania’s decades long forestry wars, hosting a major wood based festival is a significant achievement. The AWBF could easily have become the focus for community conflict over the management of our public native forests.

This could still happen given current Government policy.

Given the context perhaps the AWBF Committee believes that having no policies on timber sourcing and forest management is the safest strategy.

When skating (sailing?) on thin ice it’s best to be cautious!

Also no doubt the wooden boating community is itself deeply divided over timber sourcing and forest management issues. Attempting to develop policies around these issues could tear the wooden boating community asunder. Goodbye AWBF!

But avoiding these issues is not a sustainable strategy. Sooner or later the matter will come to a head. A community demonstration at the AWBF around Government policy and rainforest logging may be all that is needed to precipitate a policy crisis.

Supporting the continued taxpayer-funded plunder of Tasmania’s rainforest and oldgrowth forest is not an option for the AWBF.

Given its enormous popularity the AWBF could become a powerful positive force for good forest management.

What is the future of boating timbers?

I’m no expert.

Many people rate Cupressus macrocarpa and related species as good for boat building. These are fast growing species ideal for the Tasmanian climate. The AWBF could develop policies that support farmers growing boating timbers.

They could be local Tasmanian growers or they could come from overseas.

The point is that the AWBF would have a positive vision for its future.

The AWBF currently has its head in the sand (sawdust?) on timber sourcing and forest management.

But it can’t last forever!!

The end is nigh!

Bunnings

The public native forest market is shifting quickly.

Wesfarmers, the parent company of Bunnings Hardware and Officeworks, yesterday announced they will only stock FSC certified products by 2020.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-17/vic-forestry-industry-at-risk-of-collapse/10255128

This means both Vicforests and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania will cease to exist.

Neither of these State Government forest agencies are likely to achieve FSC certification before then. Bunnings is a major customer for both these agencies products.

In less than a week since its launch the new National Forest Industries Plan has been dealt a mortal blow!

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/09/17/national-forest-industries-plan-2018/

Six weeks ago Bunnings gave warning that it was living up to its policies and making a stand against poor forest management practices in Australia:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/08/04/bunnings-finally-takes-a-stand/

All around Australia public native forest management is in crisis.

Stand by for some serious fireworks!

National Forest Industries Plan 2018

Better

The only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable private tree growers.

And once again the Federal Government and the Australian forest industry have failed to deliver.

Last week the Federal Government launched another plan for the Australian forest industry:

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry

http://ausfpa.com.au/media-releases/morrison-government-promises-a-billion-new-production-trees-sets-new-vision-for-growing-australias-renewable-forest-industries/

Yet another opportunity for Australian taxpayers to give generously to the tune of $20 million over the next 4 years with more to come.

But wait! There is a Federal election due before November 2019.

Surely this is coincidence!

Another forest industry plan so close to an election. Is that pork I smell cooking?

Apologies for my cynicism but I’ve seen this so many times before.

Forest industry plans have a short shelf life in Australia. The Use By Date generally coincides with the next election/change of Government.

The Plan is 15 pages long, 15 pages of marketing and spin with very little substance. Just reading the 2 page Preface tells me that I’ve read all this many times before.

If this Plan was an investment prospectus it would be in the bin within the hour.

The Preface tells me:

  • Its all political;
  • Its all about the sawmillers/wood processors;
  • It even mentions “resource security” which is just another term for industry subsidy.
  • Competitive markets, log prices, market transparency are not discussed at all!
  • It tells me that Farmers will play a vital role. Farmers beware!!! Here’s a typical quote: Working with farmers to secure a long-term ‘wood bank’ for the forest industries’ future…. That’s it! Farmers role is to help subsidise the forest industry.
  • Does the Plan discuss profitable tree growing? Not at all!

The Plan has 15 Actions listed under 4 headings. Every one of the Actions is what the Government/taxpayer is going to do for the wood processors. Not one of the Actions concerns what the forest industry will do for itself.

There is no Implementation Plan. How, who and when are these Actions going to be fulfilled? Based in past industry plans I assume few if any of the Actions will see the light of day.

The word “export” is completely absent from the Plan. Access to log export markets is an essential part of the future of any viable profitable forest industry.

The Plan fails to address the many distortions and blockages in forestry markets in Australia (like Government control and manipulation of log prices). One major issue here is the management and performance of the various State forest agencies. All these agencies MUST be made fully commercial and profitable, or they must be must be shut down.

Many reports have been written highlighting the issues preventing investment in tree planting in Australia. This Plan ignores these issues entirely!

As I said in my previous blog forest policy should not be about sawmillers/wood processors. That is the wrong focus. Good forest policy should be about profitable private tree growers. Once tree growing is demonstrably profitable then the investment in processing will follow.

This Plan is all about sawmillers/processors.

The political and industry spin doctors really had fun with this statement:

The National Farmers Federation’s support for the inclusion of farm forestry tree plantings as a supplement to primary agricultural purposes confirms that farmers are poised to support a bigger part of tree growing in our landscape.

The National Farmers Federation (NFF) has only recently decided that forestry might be a primary industry. To date their interest and commitment has been minimal. They have no policies or farm forestry programs.

The one single positive I can say about the Plan is that it has a stronger emphasis on farm forestry than previous plans, but not in a way I find encouraging.

If you have 30 minutes and want some light entertainment download the Plan and have a read. Then tell me what you think!

Will this Plan ignite the forest industry in Australia?

Or will it join the dozens of previous forest industry plans collecting dust on library shelves around the country?

Cheers!

Sawmillers and forest policy

protest

These recent news items highlight the moral hazard that continues to dominate forest policy and the forest industry in Australia:

https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/calls-for-overhaul-of-vic-timber-industry/news-story/0db91597e1b64a9a72e02e9319c23a5c

and

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/victorian-sawmillers-call-for-change-favouring-plantations/

For 200+ years forest policy in Australia has been about sawmillers (and to a lesser extent other wood processors).

Profitable tree growing has NEVER been the focus of forest policy in Australia.

It’s like having a dairy industry policy focused on cheese makers at the expense of dairy farmers.

Sawmillers need to understand.

Good forest policy isn’t about them!

Good forest policy is about the growers. It’s about profitable tree growing.

If tree growing is not profitable then sawmilling has no future.

It’s that simple.

Continually asking taxpayers for more money is not a forest industry plan.

The forest industry does not need to transition to a plantation resource.

In fact the whole idea of “transition” is completely wrong.

Transition keeps the policy focus on employing sawmillers.

That is exactly the rubbish policy focus that got us into the current disaster.

The forest industry policy needs to transition to profitable private tree growing.

That is a very significant difference!!