An invitation to join the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

HI Gordon,

I’ve been reading your newsletter. Have you thought about joining your group up to FSC?

I’m in the environment chamber and on the board. Happy to talk about it if you are interested.

Cheers

I recently received this invitation to join the Australian branch of the FSC.

I’m making my reply to this invitation public because I believe the public and the marketplace need to better understand what is happening within the forest industry.

Hi XXXX

Thanks for the invitation for the Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative to join the FSC.

Twenty years ago I had hopes that the advent of the FSC would see major reform within the Australian forest industry.

Today I have no such illusions!

The fact that Bunnings/Officeworks will help shut down public native welfare forestry next year is indirectly due to the FSC, but otherwise the industry and the wood marketplace are utterly moribund.

Harsh words I know, but after a 40 year career that is the only conclusion I can come too.

The FSCs standards for “economically viable” are a joke. No they are worse than a joke! They are completely offensive and destructive to the future of the industry:.  

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2019/05/13/fsc-supports-illegal-forestry-in-australia/

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/10/17/competitive-neutrality-in-forestry/

Because of this “Standard”, private forest growers have no hope. Because of this “Standard” my Group has no future. How can it when annual taxpayer subsidies to public native welfare forestry are fully supported by the FSC and PEFC? Private growers don’t get FSC/PEFC approved annual taxpayer subsidies!!

Growing trees for wood production is a commercial activity. It is not welfare!

Should I join the FSC to help drive change within the FSC?

If Greenpeace resigned because it could not achieve meaningful change within the FSC what chance would I have of doing so?

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2018/03/30/greenpeace-leaves-the-forest-stewardship-council-fsc/

Greenpeace is right! Third party certification without transparency is a waste of time. It becomes a form-filling, label-sticking exercise of little value.

So why would I join an organisation like the FSC that deliberately seeks to undermine private forest growers?

Taxpayer subsidised welfare forestry and profit-driven commercial forestry cannot coexist in the same marketplace.

It’s that simple!

The FSC supports welfare forestry and therefore undermines commercial forestry.

It’s that simple!

If the FSC wants to support and encourage farm forestry in Australia then it needs to change its assessment standards.

It’s that simple!

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Bradbury

Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Special Species Timbers Fiasco

Looking at the just-released 2019-20 Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Annual Report highlights the plunder and fiasco of public native forest special timbers management in Tasmania.

https://www.sttas.com.au/

On page 89 of the Annual Report is Table 16 summarising the 2019-20 production of specialty timbers from public native forest.

The bullshit around public native forestry in Tasmania is never ending.

Here I will just focus on a tiny piece of the fiasco-bullshit:

The following table shows the data from the STT annual report (page 89) summarising the annual sale of specialty timbers from the plunder of our public native forests; together with my own summary of Island Specialty Timbers (IST) annual log tender results:

Assuming the accountants and the editors have done their jobs, the IST log tender results should be a subset of the STT sales results.

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

Island Specialty Timbers does not produce its own separate annual report. A few years ago STT used to report highlights of the IST tender results but not anymore.

STT has reduced its annual report to nothing but marketing rubbish!

Anyway my point here is to highlight three things:

  • Most specialty timbers from harvesting public native forest are sold “off market” at “government prices” = WELFARE!!. That is 7,800 cubic metres of high value logs were given away at mates rates; and
  • Assuming that IST tenders the “very best” of the specialty timbers harvested, the other 99% of the specialty timbers harvested must be absolute rubbish!!
  • Blackwood is by far the most important special species timber, but most of it is sold “off market”.

Tasmanians are not allowed to know the cost of logging public native forest. Public native forestry is not about business.

Logging public native forest is about WELFARE and POLITICS and BULLSHIT!

Which is why so many community organisations are trying so hard to shut this industry down!

Thoughts and comments welcome!

VicForests ‘hamstrung’

https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/story/6836029/vicforests-hamstrung/

This article appeared in a regional newspaper back in July.

Very few people would have read it. Even fewer people would have understood it or appreciated the wisdom (even if misinterpreted).

Vicforests is the State government forest agency in Victoria, Australia tasked with logging public native forests.

https://www.vicforests.com.au/

For the past 50+ years it has been the focus of increasingly bitter community opposition.

The article mostly expresses the opinions of Gary Featherston, a professional forester and apologist for public native forestry.

Mr Featherston wishes us to believe that public native forestry is “hamstrung” by its political masters.

But what Mr Featherston describes is nothing more than the chaos of politically driven public administration. Every day the objectives change according to the winds of politics. Every day the chaos increases!

The chaos of public administration is bad enough in areas like education and health. But when it comes to pseudo-commerce like public native forestry the chaos takes on a whole new meaning!

Up until the 1990’s forestry in Australia was a Government run welfare scheme. Native forest and plantations were managed to provide jobs in regional Australia.

Today only NSW and WA have Government owned plantations. Today most timber grown and sold in Australia is privately owned. Profit is the motive! As it should be!!

And yet industry and Government policy in Australia is still focused on subsidising sawmillers/wood processors; ie. Policy is still focused on welfare.

Vicforests is not “hamstrung” as Mr Featherston wants us to believe!

Vicforests (and public native forestry around Australia) is the very embodiment of 19th century ideology well past its useby date.

Vicforests can never be divorced from the chaos of politics.

Politics is the permanent enduring Achilles Heel of public native forestry.

The future of forestry is in profitable private forest managers and growers, and until Australia recognises that fact we will continue on this endless cycle of conflict, stupidity and waste.

Timber processor alarmed over ‘massive amount’ of softwood exported to China

A large truck carrying neatly piled wood logs enters a large yard with thousands of large wooden logs.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/softwood-resource-exported-to-china-amid-log-supply-insecurity/12617994

Here we are. Sawmillers who have spent generations being on the Government payroll are now complaining about having to exist in a global competitive market.

With the sale of Government pine plantations, the new plantation owners are free to sell their logs to whoever they like, including customers who are prepared to pay more than domestic customers/sawmillers.

Imagine that! Competition and free trade in the forest industry. Who would have guessed?

This is a classic forest industry sob story, about poor hard-done-by sawmillers who can’t compete in a global marketplace.

The softwood industry is no longer part of the Welfare Forestry System in Australia, except in Western Australia and New South Wales, where Governments have yet to privatise their plantation estates.

I just love the pity-me language:

Our forefathers planted the trees — they were planted with a plan to create jobs into the future. It wasn’t about growing wood for Asia.”

A classic example of Trees-as-Welfare, not Trees-as-Commerce. The idea of growing trees to make a profit is anathema to these poor folk.

These sawmillers are demanding welfare not trees!

They are unwittingly demanding the destruction of their very own businesses and industry.

Clearly the Green Triangle Forest Industry Hub (GTFIH) is not the cohesive single-minded group that their website wants us to believe:

http://gtfih.com.au/

Tensions between growers and processors are running high!

The GTFIH has a plan to plant 50,000 ha of new plantation over the next 10 years. That definitely won’t happen with stories like this in the media.

Who would want to plant trees knowing you cannot trade in an open competitive market? Nobody that’s who!!

Unfortunately the article does not talk about prices and markets, or any idea of the growers side of the story.

And as for an industry Code of Conduct, that would be the final nail in the coffin for the already struggling forest industry in Australia.

What other primary producers in Australia face a more hostile political environment than tree growers? I can’t think of any! Happy to have your comments!

Anyone growing trees for wood production in Australia, whether plantation or native forest, should be very worried right now. Your investment is about to be destroyed by your politicians.

What a total mess the industry is!!

“Let’s fast track that plan!”

FastTrack

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/special-reports/more-trees-will-grow-jobs-economy/news-story/8b4fd3b46144584213fd106525ee0d6e

That’s forest industry speak for “hand over the taxpayers money now” and more political protection and subsidies please.

This is a typical piece of forest industry windy hyperbole; full of bluster, promise, and foreboding. I’ve been reading this kind of rubbish all my long forestry career.

The forest industry cannot convince Australian farmers to include commercial treegrowing in their business models.

Why?

Because the forest industry in Australia has zero commercial credibility!

So who then is the audience for this article?

None other than Governments and politicians of course.

This article is not written for the farming community.

As usual the forest industry talks about growing demand and supply shortages but fails to talk about markets, costs, prices and profits.

Forest policy in Australia has always been about loggers, sawmillers and processors – regional jobs.

Forest policy in Australia has never, ever been about profitable tree growers.

This article talks about regional jobs and communities, and deliberately avoids any mention of profitable tree growers.

Saving regional jobs – ie. Welfare forestry – is a major focus of the forest industry.

But welfare forestry is a dead end; a road to failure.

The only truism in this article is “we need to grow the plantation estate significantly and strategically”.

If forestry markets are so positive as this article wants us to believe, then why isn’t the marketplace responding and farmers planting trees? Surely that is the way markets work is it not? More demand triggers higher prices triggers more supply etc, etc.. Classic economics!!

But Australia does not have a forestry market. There is no relationship in Australia between wood supply, demand, price, cost and profit. None!

And that is the result of deliberate industry and Government policy.

The end result is that the forest industry has no commercial credibility and farmers don’t plant trees.

And the forest industry has no clue whatsoever how to fix this problem except write blustering rubbish like this.

Sustainable Timbers Tasmania fails FSC audit again!

logging2

After being audited in May 2019, and the audit report being finalised in February this year, Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (STT) this week were finally courageous enough to publically announce that it had once again failed FSC certification.

https://www.sttas.com.au/

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/northtas/programs/drive/sustainable-timber-tasmania-fsc-certification/12567014

No one seems at all surprised!

It has been more than 10 years since STT promised to gain FSC certification.

That’s 10 years of failure!

With Bunnings Hardware promising to only sell FSC certified products after 31st December 2020, the future for STT is not looking good. Bunnings is the largest retailer of Tasmanian oak products from Tasmania’s public native forests.

On 1st July this year Bunnings announced they would no longer sell public native forest products from Vicforests.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2020/07/01/bunnings-stops-selling-timber-logged-by-vicforests-after-court-ruling/

The long, slow, bitter, costly road to oblivion for public native welfare forestry in Australia is entering its final phase.

Meanwhile instead of questioning its own failings, or plotting a new course for the future, the forest industry is now waging an all out publicity war on anyone it regards as an enemy, including the FSC and Bunnings.

The culture within the forest industry has become neurotic and hostile.

How the forest industry responds and behaves in this final closing down of public native forestry in Australia will impact the greater industry for decades to come.

If the industry continues its current hostile virulent campaign then the brand/industry damage will be severe indeed.

The private forestry sector in Australia is already starved of oxygen in attempting to generate a positive image and message to the marketplace and the community.

A few more years of negative hostile publicity will alienate more of the marketplace and the community, and further isolate the forest industry.

The Australian forest industry desperately needs to improve its support within the broader community. Right now the opposite is happening.

Will the private forestry sector remain silent as its future is destroyed in this battle?

  1. By the way this article had no impact whatsoever on the FSC audit:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/tasmanian-forest-agreement-delivers-13bn-losses-in-giant-on-taxpayers

Apparently the FSC is perfectly happy supporting fraudulent behaviour in the forest industry.

A proposal to develop New Zealand’s alternative, specialty timbers industry

cropped-p26-nicholas-presentation-blackwood-2011m.jpg

https://fgr.nz/2020/07/14/survey-a-proposed-industry-association-for-alternative-specialty-timbers-and-small-scale-sawmillers/

This sounds exciting!

As usual the New Zealand forest industry is generations ahead of anything happening here in Australia.

This new proposal to establish a NZ Specialty Timbers Association is just brilliant.

Unlike specialty timbers in Tasmania, the industry in NZ has nothing to do with plundering public native forests, or endless, repetitive political games.

New Zealand’s specialty timbers are farm-grown, and include plantations and managed native forest.

A discussion paper about the proposal is available from the above website. It is only 5 pages and well worth reading.

One of the interesting aspects of the proposal is the key role which portable sawmillers will play in the Association; providing the vital link between the marketplace and the thousands of specialty timbers growers in New Zealand.

The current focus of the discussion paper is on the NZ domestic markets which is fine. There are plenty of opportunities locally. But there are a few specialty species (incl. Blackwood) for which available volumes are already in excess of domestic demand, so that export markets must be developed immediately.

Two aspects that I believe are vital for the new Association to consider:

  1. An Industry Plan is needed, with objective, measurable goals and regular reviews. Having thousands of farmers randomly planting thousands of different timber species with no vision or coordination, will not build a viable future. The marketplace needs to develop a select list of preferred species, so that viable marketable quantities of quality wood from these species are available to the market.
  2. Lots of marketplace support and feedback, from builders, architects, craftspeople, etc., needs to be generated so that farmers can have a sense of what they are doing and why. Currently the marketplace completely avoids thinking 10, 20, 30 years into the future when it comes to timber supply. This must change!!

I will follow this story as it develops over the coming months and years.

Congratulations New Zealand!

You have done it again!!

A Change of Policy

BunningsBlockade

Having spent decades/generations complaining about protesting and blockading “greenies” in the public forests, and demanding legal and political protection from such activity, it seems the forest industry in Australia now openly supports a citizen’s right to protest and blockade.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-22/bunnings-logging-protest-after-ditching-victorian-timber/12479914?fbclid=IwAR1HFW46QenXcPH6egLqbAWwTMZZN3EAuVmatbi8wao16Q1ANP9d2fQGOPg

Who would have guessed that such a dramatic change in industry policy was possible?

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/21/tasmanian-anti-logging-protesters-banned-from-forests-over-unsafe-behaviour

Even politicians who have been champions of “lock up the protestors”, have changed their spots and are preparing to chain themselves to the nearest Bunnings charity barbeque.

Will that be white or wholemeal bread with your sausage Maam? Onions? Sauce or mustard? I hope your chains are comfortable Maam! Can I get you a seat?

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6846846/will-braddon-mp-hit-a-bunnings-jail-snag/?cs=12&fbclid=IwAR3yr7tdPMtrABF2Xz02fMTJODND20qQU8gf87ZpGo5buZuXeUQUcYfDK80

It’s not a good look for the forest industry. Bunnings Hardware is stepping out courageously and developing a social conscience, and the forest industry is demanding that they stop!!

I’m not going to mention the “H” word because people get offended by that kind of language. Instead I’m giving these people the benefit of the doubt and assume the forest industry is now a champion of freedom and democracy. The right to protest is a fundamental cornerstone of democracy….even when you are on the receiving end of the protest!

From now on the forest industry will welcome protestors to the public forests with open arms, divided by values but brothers and sisters in freedom and democracy!

And we will hear no more rubbish about Anti-Protest Laws in Australia from either the forest industry or politicians, otherwise I will be forced to use the “H” word!!

It’s a New Age!!

More industry-destroying salvage timber

Whilst wandering around the internet I came across some more Australian salvage timber prices that are completely outrageous!

Once again this is farm salvage macrocarpa cypress.

But these prices are beyond ridiculous.

These prices are total destructive of farm forestry and the greater forest industry.

“Structural” grade macrocarpa timber for $800 per cubic metre???

Even the seriously large sizes are the same cheap price.

These prices are for lengths up to 4.2 metres. Pay 20% extra for lengths of 4.2-4.9m, 30% extra for lengths of 5-5.9m, 40% extra for lengths of 6-6.5m.

Madd

This sawmiller’s motto is “quality timber at affordable prices”!!

More like “premium timber at give-away prices” buy now before it’s all gone!!

This sawmiller obviously believes he’s doing a good job helping farmers get rid of unwanted trees and turning them into something useful.

Instead they are guaranteeing that no one will have premium timber in the future!

When I made this chart up, I had to go back and check my figures to make sure I was doing it right. I could not believe what I was seeing.

No farmer is going to bother growing cypress (or any tree) for wood production when its “sold” on the market at these prices.

If the forest industry wants a future; if the marketplace wants to have premium wood in 20, 30 years time, then this nonsense must stop!!

This kind of pricing destroys your future!

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2020/06/13/salvage-timber-markets-and-their-destructive-impact-on-the-forest-industry/

Bunnings and the Forest Industry Extremists

PS. I just discovered that Bunnings is Australia’s Most Trusted Brand:

http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8199-roy-morgan-risk-monitor-november-2019-201911110700

So if the forest industry is going to pick a fight with Bunnings it is 100% guaranteed to go badly for the industry.

Cheers!

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative

Bunningshttps://ausfpa.com.au/media-releases/bunnings-short-sighted-decision-will-cost-aussie-jobs-and-lead-to-environment-destroying-imports/?fbclid=IwAR0jgN7DidmkyPHn2LjzQwbXjN-ccbWDJYxgEi7LWoeVBxb_–z16rK-SDk

Am I surprised?

No not really!

The exaggerated rhetoric and chest beating of the forest industry extremists is utterly predictable.

Is Bunnings short sighted?

Absolutely not.

They have long-standing company policies that seek to improve the ethics and legality within its supply chains.

Bunnings has for many years been supportive of Vicforests efforts to gain FSC certification, but after numerous attempts Vicforests has failed to achieve what so many other forest managers have.

https://www.vicforests.com.au/

In 2018 Bunnings announced that come 2021 they would only sell FSC certified wood products.

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

Vicforests has had plenty of opportunity to prove its credentials. It has failed!

The Federal Court ruling in May was a “last straw” which Bunnings could not ignore.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-27/leadbeaters-possum-federal-court-rules-vicforests-logging-breach/12292046

https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/online-files/friends-of-leadbeaters-possum-v-vicforests

Vilification

The vilification by the AFPA of Bunnings and the Victorian community who care about THEIR forests, is downright reprehensible.

It does the greater forest industry no good whatsoever.

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