Tag Archives: special timbers

Review of the DRAFT Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 2014: Director’s report and representations

The Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC) has just released the TWWHA Managememt Plan 2014: Director Report and Representations.

http://www.iplan.tas.gov.au/Common/Output/TrimWS.aspx?id=811538&ext=PDF

With UNESCO emphatically ruling out it out the issue of logging special timbers in the TWWHA is now dead and buried (at least until the next management plan review).

Timber Harvesting is discussed on pages 11-12 of the TPC report.

However the TPC is clearly confused. It interpreted my representation as supporting special timbers logging in the World Heritage Area!!

Ok! Maybe I didn’t explicitly say NO!

Maybe I was too analytic and not emphatic enough.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/02/10/draft-twwha-management-plan-representation/

So let me make this perfectly and emphatically clear –

In no way do I agree that the Draft Plan “allow[ed] the management of Tasmania’s unique special species timber for sustainable production within legislated categories of reserves …[whilst] not compromising the Outstanding Universal Values for the TWWHA”.

I do NOT support any special timbers harvesting in the TWWHA!!

I just wanted to clear that up and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind.

First Hydrowood Tender

hydrowood2

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/harvesting-lakes-sunken-treasure/story-fnj4f7k1-1227626537090

The first 38 lots of Hydrowood logs and sawn timber are now open for public tender. The sawn material is whole logs sawn into 50mm slabs.

http://hydrowood.com.au/

A total of 35.4 cubic metres of timber and logs are for sale of which 21.4 cubic metres (60%) are blackwood. Two of the blackwood logs are milled into 50mm slabs. Blackwood logs range in size from 0.4 to a massive 3.03 cubic metres. The Three of the 16 blackwood logs are noted as having feature grain.

This is a significant parcel of blackwood logs to go to public tender.

Details of individual lots and tender forms and rules are available here:

http://www.islandspecialtytimbers.com.au/shops/ist/logs-for-tender

The following table summarises the tender details:

HW1215

This is the first of what is expected to be 80,000 cubic metres of special timbers to be salvaged over the next 3 years. This is far more special timbers than has ever been supplied to market before. Most of this volume will be blackwood.

It is far more wood than the domestic market can accommodate. It will take some time before mainland and international buyers become aware of these sales and become involved. So I’m not expecting a great result from these first few tenders.

This material is available for viewing at Wynwood Sawmill, about 7 km from Wynyard.

I’m happy to promote these sales for a number of reasons, and look forward to seeing greater volumes, competition, and demand and price transparency in the special timbers market.

Hopefully demand and price will keep pace with supply.

Offers for this tender must be received by 11.00 pm Tuesday 8 December 2015:

  • by email to murray.jessup@forestrytas.com.au by 11 pm.
  • hand delivered to: Forestry Tasmania, 79 Melville St, Hobart, by cob, 5 pm.
  • mailed to: ‘SFM Hydrowood Tender’, Forestry Tasmania, Box 207, Hobart, TAS, 7001.

Reserve prices apply to material in this tender sale, negotiations with bidders will occur if an offer is within 10 % of the reserve price.

 

Specialty timber industry has Tasmanian Government support, despite [WHA] logging doubts

ST1

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/state-government-backs-speciality-timber-industry/6969944

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-23/hodgman-hoping-to-convince-unesco-delegation-of-logging-plan/6966218

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tassie-tourism-leaders-in-key-talks-with-united-nations-heritage-body/story-fnj4f7kx-1227620092494

Mr Hodgman was confident of changing the [UNESCO] delegation’s mind.

“We’ve every confidence that the delegation are open to understanding what we do in Tasmania and accepting, we believe, that an appropriate balance is in place,” he said.

“Any harvesting would be subject to considerable controls and environmental protection, including at a national level.”

But if unsuccessful, the Premier said logging would be banned.

 

The UNESCO delegation is in town to find out “what we do in Tasmania”.

what we do in Tasmania”…???

What we do in Tasmania is make stupid forest policy and then stuff things up, again and again!

What is perfectly obvious from the last 35 years is that politically-driven forest policy in Tasmania has been a disaster for both the forest industry and the Tasmanian community.

The “appropriate balance” in place is nothing more than wedging the community and winning elections.

It has nothing to do with good profitable sustainable forest management.

And as for “considerable controls and environmental protection” haven’t these been in place for decades but still the special timbers industry is in crisis?

It’s not about the controls and protection is it? The dominant issue continues to be the politics and conflict.

Our forest industry will never be profitable and sustainable because logging public native forests is just too political. There is no resolution to this problem except stopping the logging of public native forest. That is the fundamental lesson of the last 35 years.

One thing is absolutely 100% guaranteed. Any logging of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area would be an ongoing battleground that would further damage the Tasmanian community and our political system for decades to come. Not to mention the incredible waste of money and time it would entail.

Both of the major political parties DO NOT support the special timbers industry because they DO NOT support profitable tree growers.

Without profitable tree growers the special timbers industry has no future at all.

Tasmanian politics really does beggar belief!

When will Tasmania get a fully commercial profitable forest industry?

Hydrowood update

hydowoodS

The long anticipated Hydrowood project is finally under way on Lake Pieman on Tasmania’s west coast salvaging specialty timbers from flooded hydro dams.

http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3505999/lake-pieman-site-of-australian-first-underwater-logging-video/?cs=95

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-20/the-hunt-for-sunken-treasure-harvesting-underwater-timber/6957388?WT.ac=statenews_tas

Here is the projects new website.

http://hydrowood.com.au/

I have both hopes and fears for this project in terms of what it could do for the special timbers/blackwood market.

My hopes are that through Hydrowood sales the company will provide much needed special timbers price and market transparency. This is unlikely to happen but I will certainly be encouraging the company management to adopt a commercial/transparent model.

The main driver that will encourage Tasmanian farmers to grow commercial blackwood is if there is much more price and market transparency. Can I get Hydrowood on board?

Ideally I would like to see Hydrowood set aside the very best logs from the salvage operation and every 3-6 months have a major auction.

Let us put 1,000 cubic metres of Tasmania’s finest timbers on the auctioneers table every 3 months and see what the market is prepared to pay!

Let us clearly demonstrate that the forest industry has commercial muscle and is no longer a community service.

Let us use this opportunity to stimulate interest in the real value of quality timber, and growing trees as a profitable investment and primary industry.

The fears are that a) they will flood the market and drive down prices, or b) the ST oligarchy that are currently pushing for World Heritage logging will force the Government to put restrictions on the Hydrowood markets/prices, or c) given the history of the last 40 years that this will turn into yet another Tasmanian forest industry disaster.

Hydrowood estimates they will salvage 80,000 cubic metres of special timbers over the next 3 years, with the possibility of the project lasting another 5 years. This is far more special timbers than has ever been supplied to market before. I would be surprised if the Australian market can absorb this volume of wood. Some of it will have to go to export markets. Perhaps all of it should go to export markets.

Much of this 80,000 cubic metres will be blackwood.

I don’t have a problem with our valuable timbers going for export, especially if they are attracting premium prices and the market is kept informed.

What this huge volume of premium wood will do for the special timbers market and for prices will soon enough become apparent.

The Hydrowood project will definitely have a prolonged and significant impact on the profitability of a number of important Tasmanian businesses. Consequently there will be political repercussions.

So now the Tasmanian special timbers market has four different classes of suppliers:

  1. Forestry Tasmania and its subsidiary Island Specialty Timbers selling taxpayer-subsidised, community service special timbers from public native forests, for which the Tasmanian/Australian taxpayer contributes $80 per cubic metre to subsidise the sawmillers and craftspeople [unprofitable and unsustainable];
  2. Hydrowood supplying salvaged special timbers from Hydro dams, at a cost that reflects the cost of salvage [profitable (??) and unsustainable];
  3. Tasmanian farmers selling salvage special timbers from their farms at a cost that reflects the cost of salvage [profitable and unsustainable];
  4. Tasmanian farmers who are actually growing commercial, sustainable special timbers where the cost of the wood actually reflects the cost of growing, harvesting and replanting the trees [profitable (??) and sustainable]. These poor farmers now have a very difficult market in which to operate and compete. They have absolutely no support from the Government or industry. Do they have any support from the market?

If the State Government goes ahead with logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area there will be a fifth supplier in the special timbers market – taxpayer-subsidised, unprofitable and unsustainable.

If that’s not a buyers dream market I don’t know what is!

How can Tasmania’s special timbers and blackwood industries have any future with this mess of a marketplace?

The only business model for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growing. So where are the profitable tree growers in any of this mess?

Does Tasmania really want a special timbers industry? It sure doesn’t look like it!

Dear reader, please think carefully before making your next special timbers purchase.

It really is a pathetic joke!

But good luck to the Hydrowood team.

It’s a shame we can’t have a profitable, commercial and sustainable special timbers industry in Tasmania, as well as the clean-up and salvage.

HydrowoodBlackwood

Some Hydrowood salvaged blackwood – unique but how valuable is it?

 

 

Craft War!

Craft-War-Weekend-Australian

I just found this article in The Australian from 10th October 2015 by the Tasmania correspondent Matthew Denholm.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/tasmanian-forests-timber-craftsmen-and-another-looming-battle/story-e6frg8h6-1227563469827

Oh the sad stories of taxpayer-funded cultural and family heritage. It’s enough to make one weep with sympathy.

But as a forester after watching this fiasco for 35 years these stories don’t work for me anymore. My sympathy was consumed in the forestry wars of the last 20 years, and the ongoing blatant politicisation of the forest industry in Tasmania.

Forestry is just about wedging the community and winning elections – nothing more.

Now I’ve had enough of the sob stories. In fact I feel deeply offended by this ongoing stupidity.

The public native forest special timbers industry has never been and never will be sustainable nor profitable. And all the fine craftsmanship and beauty in the world will not make it so.

This is not a Tony Abbott moment revisited! Good [special timbers] forestry does not start tomorrow, nor any other day.

The past 30 years have clearly demonstrated that good, profitable public native forestry will never happen in this State.

Most special timber craftsmen lay much of blame for the emerging crisis on the politicians and timber barons who presided over a forestry industry that “wasted” vast volumes of special timbers in a head-long rush to clear old-growth forests.

Excuse me!! Ever since I can remember the special timbers industry has pretty much universally supported the industrial forestry orthodoxy and State Government policy, including the 1996 Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement. They didn’t really have any choice in the matter. All the forest policy was made for the big boys. The cheap subsidized wood provided by large scale industrial forestry is exactly what allowed the special timbers industry to thrive over the past 40 years.

So to turn around now and blame the politicians and greenies is disingenuous in the extreme.

…until the politicians squandered it!

The politicians did indeed squander it [our public native forest resource] and the vast majority of Tasmanians including the special timbers industry were right there in full support. Millions of tonnes of special timbers burnt and chipped over the last 40 years.

And now it’s time for tears and regrets?

Find someone else to blame? Don’t take any personal responsibility?

No! It’s now game over!!

No sympathy! No excuses! No exceptions! No Tony-Abbott promises of “good forestry tomorrow”!!

What little remains of our precious old growth and rainforest must not be used for further political games, waste, and stupidity.

However, Paul Harriss faces stiff resistance from many of the craftsmen in whose name he is -acting. They might be united in condemnation of previous “waste” of their resource, but they are divided when it comes to securing new ¬supplies from within the TWWHA.

“If a government decision was taken to harvest inside a World Heritage Area, I think we would suffer a backlash,”

Absolutely!

The community reaction would rival if not exceed the Franklin Dam blockade. The damage done to Tasmania’s reputation, as a recalcitrant belligerent State would take decades to heal.

Brand Tasmania would be completely trashed!!

The article finishes with what I regard as a complete falsehood:

Whichever way the issue plays out, the special timbers and traditional skills that shaped a state are in ¬danger of being consigned to its past.

It’s the usual dramatic scaremongering that the mainstream media loves to peddle.

This article did not cover anything like half the real story of the special timbers industry. It just repeated what has been repeated many times before. There are many aspects of the story that were completely ignored.

The special timbers and the skills will not be consigned to the history books and museums. They will be confronted with reality just like the ivory traders and whalers were. Those that choose too can adapt and change to the new reality. Those that choose not to change will no doubt chew their old bones for comfort.

My own proposal to develop the commercial potential of growing blackwood timber via a blackwood growers cooperative is just one of the many special timbers opportunities waiting to be developed. But it’s not likely to happen whilst the old wars and the old warriors continue to play their games.

When will Tasmania get a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

Labor backs special timbers logging in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/labor-releases-policy-for-tasmanias-special-timber-industry/story-fnpp9w4j-1227461792420

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-29/ltasmanian-labor-backs-specialty-timber-logging-in-wilderness/6656556

Green_Elrond

State opposition leader Bryan Green today announced a policy for Tasmania’s special timber industry, supporting logging within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).

After a brief hiatus the Labor and Liberal parties are once again in lock-step on forest industry policy in Tasmania.

Once again forest industry policy in Tasmania is driven by politics, waste and community conflict.

“tread widely, tread lightly”

The politicians want us to believe that special timbers is only about fairy land, a magic wand and elvish forest management.

There is no mention of UNESCO, the World Heritage Committee, Forest Stewardship Council, taxpayer subsidies, sacking teachers and nurses, or the last 30 years of politics, waste and community conflict.

Nor is there mention of private blackwood growers.

Instead our politicians will wave the elvish wand and middle earth will magically appear.

It’s just rubbish and deception.

Forestry is not a taxpayer-funded community service!

Nor is this middle earth!

Last month, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee urged the Australian and Tasmanian governments to ban commercial logging within the TWWHA.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/05/31/unesco-calls-for-changes-to-tasmanias-draft-world-heritage-management-plan-to-prohibit-logging-and-mining/

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/07/06/tasmanian-wilderness-world-heritage-area-logging-proposal/

So in good old fashion style our State politicians are once again joining forces to wage war over our forests.

The Tasmanian community will once again be the losers.

With classic political vote winners like “long-term security”, “consultation” and “striking an appropriate balance” we have heard it all dozens of times before.

Absolutely nothing has changed for our pollies.

Except now a lot more Tasmanians are sick and tired of the conflict and nonsense around the forest industry. Not to mention squandering $millions of taxpayer dollars and sacking teachers and nurses, and charging electricity users to help subsidise the forest industry. A lot more Tasmanians will express extreme displeasure if this nonsense continues.

Specialty timber groups believe they were left with an extremely restricted resource after the Tasmanian Forest Agreement was finalised in 2013 and new tracts of forests were declared off-limits. The agreement was repealed by the current Tasmanian Government in 2014.

What absolute rubbish! So called specialty timber groups were left without a (public native forest) resource because of 30+ years of failed forest industry policy; a policy that tied the industry to the election cycle and gave everything to industrial woodchipping leaving nothing but platitudes and tears for the specialty timber groups.

I must say after listening to this sort of rubbish for 30+ years I’m getting pretty sick of it. The culture of entitlement within the forest industry that former Gunns CEO Greg L’Estrange mentioned recently is certainly prevalent within sections of the special timbers industry.

The forestry wars are well and truly heating up once again.

Stand by for the media/community backlash.

The special timbers industry is on a hiding to nothing.

When will Tasmanian get a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

An invitation to participate in the Special Species Timber Management Plan

stsmp email

This email arrived in my inbox on Friday from Minister for Resources Paul Harriss. This may be interesting. Or else it will be the same old stuff we’ve seen before – or worse!!

I am not holding out much hope.

But I do pity the poor consultants who sign up for these jobs. Imagine helping to justify logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at taxpayers’ expense whilst we are sacking teachers and nurses. How on earth do you keep any sort of professional integrity or reputation in all of that?

I’m looking forward to having a discussion with “Mr Blair Freeman or one of his team”. I wonder if they understand that forestry is a business not a division of Centrelink Australia?

This management plan is not due to be completed/released before 2017 in time for the next State election.

One thing is absolutely guaranteed. This management plan will not contain any discussion of commercial issues. Nor will it consider the possibility of Tasmanian farmers growing special timbers.

The idea that Tasmanian farmers are already growing and harvesting special timbers, and would likely grow more if given the right market signals, will be completely ignored in this management plan.

The fundamental assumption will be that special timbers can only come from taxpayer-subsidised Tasmanian public native forests.

In other words it will not be a business plan but a glossy political/marketing document, like the 2010 Special Timbers Strategy.

I shall keep you informed as this proceeds.

Salvaged Timber?

Salvaged Timber Sign_s

I discovered this small inconspicuous sign in a business I recently visited in Hobart. I found the sign rather curious. Other customers also found the sign curious.

The sign says a great deal about the mixed, confused emotions and morals, and acute sensitivity that surround the special timbers industry in Tasmania.

The business, like many in Tasmania, features Tasmanian timber in the shop fittings.

So is the sign an explanation or an apology?

I’m not sure.

Or perhaps it is a statement of pride.

If so it leaves me confused.

Here’s what I think the sign is saying:

A patch of old growth native forest in North West Tasmania was clearfelled to feed the industrial forestry business model that dominates Tasmania. After the industrial clearfelling operation was completed, a second smaller operation recovered some craftwood from the site including the 400-year-old Myrtle stump. The logging coupe was then burnt and resown to native forest. Or perhaps the coupe was converted to plantation. The harvesting duo (industrial and craft) then moved on to the next old growth forest logging coupe to repeat the cycle of sin and redemption.

Is that what the sign is about? Sin and redemption!

It’s a pretty standard story about the fate of Tasmanian old growth forest.

Most people regard the clearfelling of Tasmanian old growth forest as unacceptable practice in the 21st century.

But somehow the idea of “salvaging” after the industrial clearfelling has finished attracts some crumb of virtue.

Why? Where is the virtue?

For the past 40 years the Tasmanian special timbers industry only existed because it was a minor subset of the industrial forestry business model. It needed the industrial harvesting to continue for its own existence.

But to improve its status and product differentiation from those industrial loggers the special timbers industry adopted the word “salvage”.

“Are’t we good people! We help save all that good special timber that would have been wasted.”

No that’s not quite true now is it?

Yes there has been plenty of waste. That’s to be expected when dealing with a low value commodity. But to call the special timbers craftwood operation a virtuous salvage is specious indeed.

No virtue attached at all.

Just a marketing con.

The old growth forest in North West Tasmania is gone. Where is the virtue in that?

But the market now believes the virtuous salvage story and continues to buy these special timbers.

So perhaps the sign could just as well read:

This timber veneer was harvested from a 400 year old Myrtle stump as part of an old growth forest clearfelling operation. It comes from North West Tasmania. The site was subsequently burnt, cleared and converted to eucalypt pulp plantation.

It would be just as informative and a lot more honest!

By the way what did happen to the 400-year-old Myrtle tree that sat upon the stump? Where did it end up?

A second point is that the word salvage should automatically imply to the reader there is no notion of sustainability. It’s a cleanup operation, that’s all! But in the forest industry you will sometimes see the phrase sustainable salvage being used. I don’t think so. Another marketing con job.

Now is there such a thing as genuine virtuous timber salvage?

Absolutely!

The Hydrowood operation on the west coast comes close. Unfortunately it is wrapped up in the wrong marketing spin.

http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2014/s4129593.htm

Dead, dying and storm-damaged trees can also be honestly salvaged. They do this under strict Government supervision and competitive tender on Crown Land in New Zealand:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278973

And private property in Tasmania:

http://tasmaniantonewoods.com/salvaging-old-growth-standing-dead-blackwood/

But a craftwood harvest that is part of regular industrial old growth forest clearfelling operations does not classify as salvage in my books. And certainly has no virtue!

Finally now that Gunns has gone industrial forestry in our native forests is looking pretty sick. But never mind, the mouse has now become the lion. The (public native forest dependent) special timbers industry now dominates and controls old growth forest policy in Tasmania, with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area firmly in its sights. It will be wrapped up in a glossy “strategy” and the language of virtue, but don’t be fooled.

Customers need to understand the consequences of their purchase decisions.

Ask for special timbers that are grown on private property. Let’s give Tasmanian farmers the clear message that they can grow and supply the profitable, sustainable special timbers market.

What do you think?

Post your comments.

Draft TWWHA Management Plan Representation

Tasmanian State forest industry policy continues to be highly politicised, divisive, destructive and costly to taxpayers.

The Draft Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan is just such a case in point with the plan by Government to start logging the WHA for special timbers. I wouldn’t care if it was gold or diamonds. The idea is just rubbish.

Here’s my submission to the Plan review. It’s not at all complementary. I could have said a lot more but this will do for beginners.

Cheers!

DTWWHAMP

Dear Project Team,

http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/conservation/tasmanian-wilderness-world-heritage-area/new-tasmanian-wilderness-world-heritage-area-management-plan

Special Species Timbers

As a forester and member of the forest industry for the past 35 year my representation is entirely confined to the issue of special species timbers harvesting as it is mentioned in the DTWWHAMP.

I will make my representation as clear and concise as possible since the issue of special timbers in Tasmania is so hopelessly clouded by confusion, passion and misguided policy and ideology.

It’s time for Tasmania to get real! Forestry (including special timbers) is business. It’s about commerce and profits. It is not community service or the provision of Centrelink services. And it is certainly not about wedge politics and crony capitalism.

1. The first mention of special timbers in the DTWWHAMP is on page 28. Special timbers harvesting is listed as an allowed activity in Conservation Areas and Regional Reserves.

So why is special timbers harvesting listed as a sustainable use in Conservation Areas, but only a controlled use in Regional Reserves? How are sustainable use and controlled use defined? Why the difference in use between the two reserve types? What other natural resources besides special timbers can be used in these reserve classes, or are special timbers the only resources available for use?

 

Reserve Class Purpose of Reservation

 

Conservation Area The protection and maintenance of the natural and cultural values of the area of land and the sustainable use of the natural resources of that area of land including special species timber harvesting.
Regional Reserve Mineral exploration and the development of mineral deposits in the area of land, and the controlled use of other natural resources of that area of land, including special species timber harvesting, while protecting and maintaining the natural and cultural values of that area of land.

 

2. The second mention of special species timbers is on page 74 where the zones where special species timber harvesting is allowed are listed – all zones except Visitor Services Zones.

Activity Visitor Services Zone Recreation Zone Self-Reliant Recreation Zone Remote Recreation Zone
Extraction of special species timber (in regional reserves and conservation areas only. Not including Huon pine salvage from the Gordon River area) Prohibited Permitted by authority or a licence issued by the Minister in accordance with the NPRMA Permitted by authority or a licence issued by the Minister in accordance with the NPRMA Permitted by authority or a licence issued by the Minister in accordance with the NPRMA

 

3. The third and final mention of special species timbers in the DTWWHAMP is in section 3.6.2 on page 81 where the main discussion on special timbers harvesting is located.

3.6.2 Huon Pine Salvage and Special Species Timber

The salvage of Huon pine from the shoreline of Macquarie Harbour pre-dates the declaration of the TWWHA. The activity is permitted under a longstanding arrangement between the PWS and Forestry Tasmania. Most of the timber originates from the Gordon River and is sourced from trees that were cut down many decades ago during the height of the pining activities in the western rivers that are now in the TWWHA. Salvage operations, which occur mostly in response to flooding in the Gordon River catchment, make an important contribution to supplies of this rare and valuable timber, and are important for the economy of the region. Only commercial salvage is permitted and it must be in accordance with the PWS-Forestry Tasmania agreement, which is reviewed every five years. Salvage operations will be considered by the RAA process and any other applicable assessment and approval process.

The objectives of regional reserves and conservation areas, as set out in Schedule 1 of the NPRMA, provide for the harvesting of special species timber. Special species timber is defined within the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forestry Industry) Act 2014 and includes blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii), celery-top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius), sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii), silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) and timber of any other species or timber with particular properties as may be prescribed through the associated regulations. Extraction of special species timbers will be considered through the RAA process and any other assessment and approval process or applicable legislative process.

 

Over 50% of section 3.6.2 discusses in the most general terms the current salvage of Huon pine from the shores of Macquarie Harbour. A number of unsubstantiated claims are made about this resource and its importance/significance. No supporting data is provided. These operations are undertaken in accordance with some PWS-FT agreement document. This agreement document is not referenced nor is it available to the public. Why not?

The remaining 100 words of section 3.6.2 tell us that special timbers harvesting is provided for under Schedule 1 of the NPRMA, and will be considered through the RAA and any other assessment and approval process as required!! Relevant special species available for harvesting are listed, along with any other species or timber with particular properties.

It is difficult to imagine a more opened ended and uninformative a statement as this. It serves no practical purpose whatsoever.

The 2014 Forestry Tasmania Draft Forest Management Plan provides us with a bit more information about special timbers management in Tasmania:

“The Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act requires the Minister for Resources to cause a special species management plan to be made before October 2017. The special species plan will specify the land to which it applies, the supply level of each species of special species timber in relation to the land, and take into account the management of conservation and cultural heritage values of the land.

Forestry Tasmania indicates its planned annual supply of special species timbers in its Three Year Wood Production Plan, which is updated annually. Forestry Tasmania’s future management of special species timbers from PTPZ land will be informed by the special species management plan when it becomes available.” Forestry Tasmania will not be involved in any way with any special timbers harvesting outside the PTPZ.

In other words special timbers management in Tasmania is in chaos! Forestry Tasmania is scaling down its special timbers commitments in line with its diminished capacity to supply. And a Special Species Management Plan won’t be available until the next Tasmanian State election in 2017!

The DTWWHAMP contains no statement of Government special timbers policy, no guarantees of any assessment, management or performance standards at all. Nothing but silence. It appears that this major change in TWWHA management is to be taken entirely on trust.

In summary the DTWWHAMP tells us virtually nothing about the existing special timbers salvage that does occur in the WHA, and tells us even less about the planned expansion of special timbers logging in the TWWHA. Given the bitter, long and ongoing conflict in Tasmania around the so-called commercial management of public native forests the special timbers provisions within the DTWWHAMP are entirely inadequate.

The subject of special timbers harvesting is of such enormous significance to the future of Tasmanias Wilderness World Heritage Area it is worthy of an entire chapter in the DTWWHAMP in its own right it.

As an absolute minimum if special timbers logging must go ahead (against all logic and reason) it should not proceed until the management plan and harvest operations have received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification, to guarantee forest operations are of the highest possible standards (as befitting a World Heritage Area) and meet with clear majority community support.

Completely inadequate is the only way to describe the special timbers provisions of the DTWWHAMP. Not at all worthy of the high standards of the World Heritage Convention. A thorough and complete rewrite is recommended.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Dr. Gordon Bradbury

Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative.

Destructive anti-commercial policies continue at FT

After an absence of a year the Forestry Tasmania 2013/14 Annual Report belatedly includes data on the mill door log value (MDLV) of the various product classes sold including special timbers (Appendix 2 – Supplement to table 3.1). This together with other data in the annual report has allowed me to update a chart I originally published in this blog in June 2013.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2013/06/13/pricing-blackwood-out-of-the-market/

As most readers will know Forestry Tasmania places a very low priority on commercial matters like getting the best possible price, and making a profit. It is difficult to understand FT’s approach to issues such as sales processes, pricing, markets, costs, supply and demand. None of these issues are discussed in their annual reports. What little information is available shows that good commercial management is absent at Melville St. By behaving in this reckless manner Forestry Tasmania is undermining the profitability and livelihood of all existing and potential future private tree growers and destroying the very industry it is supposed to be supporting. Such is the inevitable outcome of crony capitalism.

Of course Forestry Tasmania is aided and abetted in this behaviour by legislation and politicians that support crony capitalism.

Remember that Forestry Tasmania is by far the largest grower/supplier of premium quality special timbers logs in Tasmania/Australia. But it is not the only existing or potential future grower!

FT_MDLV_chart

The updated chart shows total special timbers and blackwood sawlog harvest for the past 9 years. 2006 was the first year that Forestry Tasmania published Mill Door Log Value data. For some reason no MDLV data were published in 2013.

As can be seen, blackwood makes up the majority of the special timbers harvest from public native forests in Tasmania. The chart also shows the total special timbers mill door log value (effectively what the sawmillers paid for the logs delivered to their mill). I have then calculated the average MDLV ($/m3) by dividing the total value by the total volume, effectively the per cubic metre royalty paid.

As can be seen the average MDLV is effectively a straight line with a gradient of 3.1%. In other words the price paid by sawmillers for these premium timbers is fixed in line with long term inflation. In other words their value does not increase in real terms – exactly the same real price today as 9+ years ago. That’s what I call a great deal!

In 2013/14 the average special timbers MDLV was $132 per cubic metre. That value includes all the administration and overhead costs, plus the costs of harvesting and transport to the mill. One can only guess what the effective stumpage price was, maybe $40 per cubic metre!! What a joke!!

The other obvious trend in the chart is that special timbers log prices are not affected in any way by market conditions – supply, demand, costs of production, etc. For example the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 had absolutely no impact on prices.

And finally the trend in special timbers revenue over the last few years suggests that 2014/15 will see revenue drop below $1 million. We have no idea what the costs are in special timbers management and harvesting because Forestry Tasmania does not provide separate accounts for these “non-profit” activities.

But it doesn’t matter because Forestry Tasmania sends the special timbers bill to the Tasmanian taxpayer! 10,000 cubic metres (or 500 truck loads) of some of the world’s best timbers sold for a song, AND teachers and nurses lose their jobs. Does anyone care? Apparently not!

Is it any wonder that many Tasmanians regard Forestry Tasmania as an albatross around the neck of the community?

Despite the fact that Forestry Tasmania deliberately operates its special timbers operations at a loss, it:

  • Fails to provide separate financial statements for these operations;
  • Fails to provide any commercial management model and objectives that might identify limits to costs and losses;

The Tasmanian community is left with an unmanaged out-of-control special timbers liability. And the situation is going to get worse with the proposed logging inside the World Heritage Area!