Tag Archives: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

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.


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.


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.

Tasmania abandons World Heritage Area logging plans on UNESCO advice



It’s time to break out the champagne!!

In a rare show of forest-policy commonsense the Tasmanian Government has apparently accepted the umpire’s decision and abandoned plans to log special timbers (including Tasmanian blackwood) in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).


News reports just in say the UNESCO recommendations will be accepted but that the Government was still committed to supporting the [special timbers] industry.

Here’s the Tasmanian Governments announcement on the UNESCO Report:


Here’s the single recommendation in the UNESCO report regarding logging the TWWHA and some worthwhile comments from the UNESCO Mission:

Recommendation 2

The State Party should confirm an unambiguous commitment that the property is off-limits to commercial logging in its entirety, and fully reflect this commitment in the Management Plan for the whole of the property.


The mission would like to put on record that it considers the interests of the special species timber sector per se fully legitimate and by no means excessive. Despite the regrettable lack of conclusive data, the mission finds it difficult to imagine that resource security could not be achieved in the vast forest estate available for logging outside of the TWWHA. While a mixed World Heritage property, recognized for globally significant cultural and natural heritage, is not the place to experiment in the view of the mission, there is every reason to further discuss and test sustainable forest management elsewhere in Tasmania in less polarized fashion. The political support to the special species timber industry should be channelled to areas available to commercial logging outside of the TWWHA, while fully considering that there are areas outside of the TWWHA, which are likewise of the highest conservation value, including in the Tarkine area. New approaches to manage the desired species can draw on longstanding research conducted in Tasmania and a growing body of knowledge about the ecology of the species (UNESCO, p. 13).


The concept of “outside the TWWHA” should include commercial private growers.

Here is the link to the UNESCO report:


To see my many blogs on this issue go here:


So now the State Government is faced with developing a Special Timbers Management Plan with next-to-no public special timbers resource.


What will be the next political play?

Tasmanian blackwood has been and will continue to be the backbone of the special timbers industry, and the only Tasmanian special timber species with the potential for a profitable commercial future on private land.

Will the Tasmanian Government and Parliament now look to a different future for the special timbers industry or will politics continue to reign supreme in Tasmanian forest policy?

Federal Government to abandon plans to log World Heritage Area if UNESCO will not ratify it


In yesterdays news media:


A UNESCO delegation recently visited the state to assess the practices and meet with stakeholders, with a final report expected next year.

The Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Senator Anne Ruston, said the logging plan would be scrapped if UNESCO did not support it.

“When they [UNESCO] bring down that report I would be really surprised if the Federal Government did anything other than respect those decisions,” she said.

With the hardline, anti-conservation Tony Abbott administration now gone the politicians are already softening up the electorate and protecting their positions in the likely event that UNESCO will continue to not support logging special timbers in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Senator Ruston said she had some sympathy for users of specialty species timber.

“They also have an argument which is reasonable, that they have very low impact where they take those timbers from,” she said.

To forget the lessons of the last 30 years of bitter conflict over public native forest management in Tasmania would be foolish in the extreme. Tasmania has not changed and neither has our forest policy and management. Opening up the WHA to logging would be yet another forest industry disaster to add to an already long list of disasters.

Within the context of the past 30 years promises of “low impact” are utterly meaningless.

“It’s a major concern that the [special timbers] resource is now essentially behind closed doors.”

The remaining public native forest special timbers resource is “behind closed doors” precisely because of what has happened over the last 30 years.

The taxpayer-funded logging of public native forest old growth and rainforest for special timbers is over [subject to UNESCOs report].

Now when will Tasmania get a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

Craft War!


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


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,”


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?

World Heritage Area logging: Boatbuilders need access to Tasmania’s protected forests due to lack of speciality timber, Government says




Here we go again continuing with the wasteful, divisive, political forestry wars.

“New analysis strengthens the argument that selective logging of speciality timber in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area is necessary to meet the demand from craft industries, including boat builders, the State Government says”.

As usual it’s not about profitable tree growing; it’s about tree growing as a community service.

It’s Centrelink Timbers!

How can Tasmanian blackwood have a profitable commercial future with Government policy like this?

Never mind the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement (TFA). It’s history! Using the TFA as an excuse to vilify your opponents and justify logging the World Heritage Area is complete nonsense.

Of course if you give away trees there will be a demand. But what would happen if the Government decided it was actually running a business and had to make a profit instead, like private tree growers, like Tasmanian farmers?

There is no discussion here about costs, prices or profits; and supply and demand are discussed as political not commercial objectives. Any relationship between cost, price, supply and demand is completely ignored. It’s a sad pathetic joke!

It’s the same with Forestry Tasmania as with the special timbers industry; the whole lot is run as a community service. Wasteful political nonsense.

As Vica Bailey of the Wilderness Society says “the specialty timber sector has traditionally been a by-product of clear-felling and woodchipping of vast areas of old-growth and rainforest, a model that glutted the market with heavily subsidised wood, there was never any expectation that historical levels of supply could, would or should continue“.

The public native forest special timbers industry has never been sustainable nor profitable.

The last 30 years have clearly demonstrated there is no such this as sensible when it comes to logging public native forests. Logging the World Heritage Area would be yet another forest industry disaster.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss said he would present the new analysis to the World Heritage committee delegation during its visit in November in a bid to reverse opposition to logging inside forests added to Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area in 2013.

Will Minister Harriss present the same analysis to the Tasmanian community for broader scrutiny?

The interesting thing in this news report is that blackwood is included in the discussion. World Heritage Area is now also about saving the blackwood industry. For the first time the Government admits the public native forest blackwood resource is not sustainable, only 12 months after the last blackwood resource review declared the resource sound and sustainable.


Forestry Tasmania’s own data clearly shows they have been overcutting the public blackwood resource for at least the past 25 years. And now as a consequence they want to try and justify logging the World Heritage Area. It’s just sickening!!

UNESCO must get the clear message from the Tasmanian community that logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is not acceptable.

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

Hooray for Peter Adams

The Talking Point in today’s Mercury newspaper by furniture designer/maker and artist Peter Adams is a rare and much welcome alternative opinion in the ongoing nonsense around special timbers and the prospect of logging the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.



It is just so rare for someone within the forest industry to come out and publically challenge the current industry and policy orthodoxy.

From today forward, all timber workers, myself included, have to re-examine their use of speciality timbers.

That said, what I will never do is use any timber cut within the boundaries of a World Heritage Area. Nor should anyone.

My suggestion to Peter Adams and others (including consumers) is to:

  1. Use only farm-grown Tasmanian timbers;
  2. encourage Tasmanian farmers to grow more quality wood;
  3. pay Tasmanian farmers a price for their wood that reflects its real value and encourages more tree planting;
  4. support organisations such as mine that seek to encourage and teach farmers how to grow commercial blackwood in both plantations and remnant native forest.

Wood is not a taxpayer-subsidised community service. It is a commercial product.

Planting trees and managing plantations and forests costs real time and money.

The only way for Tasmania to have a successful forest industry, and realise the vision of Peter Adams, is for tree growing to be blatantly and transparently profitable.

Only Tasmanian farmers can make this happen; farmers who are passionate about growing a quality product.

I was up in the north west of the State this week for the first time in a while, and driving around imagining a rural landscape dotted with well managed forest remnants and plantations of blackwood. Instead I saw opportunities being wasted. Most farms have wet gullies, steep slopes and small areas too difficult to manage. Good land going to waste. These areas are just ideal for growing commercial blackwood.

One of the key things missing is the right commercial and political context to get these areas planted.

Peter Adams points the way to the future.

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




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.



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?

Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area logging proposal

Tasmania’s forestry wars are well and truly back with a vengeance.



Groundhog Day.

The media has been buzzing the last week with the to and fro of political banter, bluster, vilification and hypocrisy over the outcome from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting last week.

It really does beggar belief.

The proposal to log specialty species timber in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is policy madness. Such a move would set Tasmania back another 10 years. The damage to the economy and the community would be significant. There is just so much community opposition to this proposal.

The State Government is clearly out to antagonize as many “green” thinking people as it possibly can with the sabre rattling and chest thumping. What better way to foster a social, cultural and economic boycott of the State. Wedge and polarise the community in order to win the next election.

Politics pure and simple.

Given the legacy of the last 30 years and the continuing political and community heat around this issue there is no way UNESCO will accept logging in the TWWHA. But elements of the special timbers industry and our politicians will push this regardless of the risk and damage.

The tourism industry understands that this conflict is not just about the forest industry. It impacts the entire economy making Tasmania a less attractive place for investors and business.

There is absolutely no notion of communication, negotiation, understanding respect or tolerance in any of this. The TFA and the last State election demonstrated beyond any doubt that any attempts at dialogue and negotiation will be quickly sabotaged and undermined. Once again we are facing another crash through or crash situation, and based on past performance the only outcome will be the latter.

Just how dysfunctional can Tasmania become?







World Heritage Committee delegates will visit Tasmania before the State submits an updated report [Management Plan] to UNESCO by 1 February next year.

Tasmania and the forest industry remain embroiled in the continuing conflict and going nowhere.

Trying to encourage farmers to grow profitable commercial blackwood while the special timbers industry is run as a taxpayer-funded community service is a tough challenge.

Here’s some of my previous blogs on this issue:



Deloraine Stringfest & World Heritage Area logging


This was going to happen sooner or later. But the Deloraine Stringfest is now becoming associated with Tasmanian State Government forest policy and the logging of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). This is courtesy of the Premier Will Hodgman and his press release associated with the recent launch of the 2015 Stringfest.


We want to ensure craftsmen like Daniel can continue to create instruments from Tasmanian timbers, which is why we are committed to rebuilding the forest industry.

As many people know, State forest policy now includes the planned logging of special timbers including Tasmanian tonewoods from the TWWHA. See my recent blog:




Daniel Brauchli certainly doesn’t support current Government forest policy, but the Premier seems happy to risk damaging the reputations of our craftpersons and artists.

The proposed logging of the TWWHA will become yet another divisive and destructive episode in the long running Tasmanian forestry wars.

Last year at Stringfest 2014 the elephant in the room was the ongoing supply of tonewoods to sustain the festival. That elephant was a mere calf.

This year the elephant has grown considerably into a cow elephant. The prospect of the Festival becoming associated with the logging of tonewoods from the TWWHA will see the elephant become a rampaging bull. It will destroy the Festival.

The Deloraine Stringfest depends on attracting major performing artists. Once the Festival becomes associated with TWWHA tonewoods, no major (and many minor) artists will want to be associated with the Festival.

End of Festival!

By all means please come along and enjoy the 2015 Deloraine Festival, but spot the elephant hiding in the room, or wandering the streets of Deloraine with deliberate intent.

It may even be hiding behind me. Come and look!

The Deloraine Stringfest is a fantastic festival, but given the highly politicised and conflict-driven nature of forestry in Tasmania, the future of Stringfest hangs in the balance.

Stringfest has now become a political weapon. The reputations of those associated with the Festival are now at risk.

Say “No” to World Heritage tonewoods!

[Come along and talk to me about conflict-free, farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood.]