Tag Archives: Farm Forestry National Action Statement

Transforming Australia’s forest products industry: recommendations from the Forest Industry Advisory Council

Transforming_FIAC

I would love to know how many hundreds of forest industry reports, strategies and reviews have been written in Australia over the last 50 years; how many thousands of dust-covered pages now lie forgotten on library shelves?

So here we have yet another new report to join the list:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4187545/Transforming%20Australia’s%20forest%20products%20industry%20-%20Recommendations%20from%20the%20Forest%20Industry%20Advisory%20Council%20May%202016%20(2).pdf (10.7 MB pdf file)

And straight away from the title of the report it is clear where the focus of the report lies, and why we have another industry report already consigned to the dusty library shelves.

The focus is the forest industry, the wood processors. Once again wood growers are the minor party in the scheme of things.

The maxim that the only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growing is completely absent in this report. In fact the word “profit” is completely absent from the report.

This report originated in the Tony Abbott government era when Richard Colbeck, minister responsible for forestry, established the Forest Industry Advisory Council. The FIAC was tasked with developing yet another vision for the future of the industry.

It’s a political document. It’s not a business plan. It’s not a report designed to engage the rural community, nor the broader Australian community.

So why am I bothering to review this new report?

Well at least the report does mention farm forestry, if not in a very encouraging manner.

Farm Forestry features on page 8 of the report under the heading:

Strategy: Expand the productive forest estate in strategic regions – Farm forestry

This is one of 8 strategies in the report, and here are a few of the more positive quotes from the section:

Farm forestry can provide an opportunity to contribute to the industry’s resource needs through increasing the volume of wood.

And another….

Landholders can derive financial returns from farm forestry through improved land values and on-farm benefits. Benefits include: shade and shelter for stock or crops; soil and water protection; erosion control; reversed salinity; and increased biodiversity, landscape and amenity values.

No mention at all of profits or good financial returns from tree growing, just secondary benefits from trees on farms. Are farmers expected to sell their trees at a loss to subsidise the forest industry?

Exciting stuff!!

That kind of talk will definitely ignite the interest of rural community!!

The report then talks about barriers to farm forestry investment and participation.

This confused discussion on farm forestry ends with the recommendation:

Recommendation 5: That industry develops a strategy for expanding the productive forest estate in strategic regional hubs through farm forestry, and identifies the role for government.

Well we already have a strategy developed including a role for Governments. As I identified in an earlier blog it’s called the National Action Statement on Farm Forestry (NASFF). It was written in 2005 and currently resides on one of those dusty library shelves.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/02/25/two-significant-forest-industry-reports-that-went-nowhere/

This new report has a list of references at the end that does not include the NASFF. Curious!

The new report finishes with the following recommendation:

Recommendation 19: That the Australian Government convenes a meeting of state and territory ministers responsible for forestry to discuss issues raised in this paper.

Yet another ministerial meeting. Another talk-fest!

Instead of expecting politicians to solve the industries many problems why doesn’t the report have a list of all the new initiatives that the forest industry is implementing to move towards this new/old vision?

Does the forest industry know anything about profitable tree growing?

Unfortunately there is nothing in this new report/vision for growers of high value timbers such as blackwood.

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Two significant forest industry reports that went nowhere

Combined

Both of these reports were published in 2005.

Both of these reports have (had??) significant potential impact upon the future of the Tasmanian blackwood industry.

Both of these reports contain important information and recommendations about reforms to the forest industry.

From what I have seen nothing from either of these reports has ever been implemented!!!

Ten years after these reports were published both are still available on Government websites as if they form the basis of current Government policy, but from what I can see neither of them are currently active.

The information and recommendations in these two reports has not been taken up and included in any forest industry policy documents (eg. FIAT), political party policies, nor in any farm lobby group policies (eg. the TFGA). Why not??

Tasmanian Government forest policy does not include any of the recommendations from these reports.

If only half of the recommendations from these two reports had been implemented the forest industry would be in a much better position today, and investment in the future of the blackwood industry would be a whole lot easier.

Here are the links to these two reports:

http://www.planningplantations.com.au/assets/content/plantations_sustainability/economic/ownership.html

(the link to the pdf report is at the bottom of the page)

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/australias-forests/plantation-farm-forestry/publications/farm_forestry_national_action_statement

Personally I think the future of long rotation plantations is looking more uncertain except in markets where high value appearance-grade timber is needed. Construction-grade timber is increasingly made from engineered wood products rather than solid wood; engineered from short-rotation plantation-grown wood.

But the market for long rotation appearance-grade timber is relatively small, especially if we are just talking about the domestic Australian market. The international market for quality appearance-grade timber is significant but is still dominated by the illegal trade in rainforest timbers.

The opportunity for supplying profitable, quality, farm-grown plantation grown Tasmanian blackwood into the export market is significant.

And this is where the Farm Forestry National (In)Action Statement (NAS) becomes important.

To achieve the vision, the Australian, State and Territory governments and the forest and wood products industry need to progress 16 actions, grouped under four action imperatives:

  1. Develop appropriate, integrated and consistent Australian, State, Territory and local government policies for farm forestry;
  2. Coordinate actions and build relationships to support farm forestry;
  3. Recognise and, where possible, quantify farm forestry’s economic, environmental and social benefits and costs;
  4. Promote the development of markets for farm forestry products and services.

The 16 actions are broken down into 33 measurable outcomes, listing deadlines and who is responsible for implementing the outcomes.

None of it has been implemented!!

The Federal and all State Governments and the forest industry all signed up to do this.

So much for commitment!

So much for leadership!

Perhaps the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian forest industry should revisit the NAS and recommit to implementing its recommendations.