Tasmanian Times


Forestry on the credit card

This is a carbon-replacement snapshot of what’s happening in Tasmanian Forestry. Data courtesy of the Tasmanian Government, Forestry Tasmania and the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). This is how the year 07-08 shaped-up for the industry:

TOTAL FOREST PRODUCT HARVESTED = 7,404,500 tonnes. (1)


(Does not include carbon from residues)



The Numbers

The amount of carbon sold in a year, cannot be replaced by the entire commercial forestry estate in a year. There is a shortfall of 1,702,570 tonnes of carbon. Incredibly, if residue was also included, with similar amounts to Forestry Tasmania, the carbon storage of the entire forested areas of Tasmania would not be enough to sequester the carbon needed. Forestry Tasmania’s carbon audit consultant MBAC, divides by a half to convert the 7.4 million tonnes harvested timber to carbon. That gives us 3.7 million tonnes of carbon. MBAC uses an amount of 2.083 tonnes of carbon per hectare, per year as a carbon replacement value for all of Forestry Tasmania’s forests. This value was then used for the whole commercial estate.(4) That gives us almost 2 million tonnes of carbon able to be sequestered per year on the whole commercial forest estate.

The Situation

The logging industry is constantly promoting, lobbying and influencing policy-makers, while at the same time contradicting critics. This has allowed them to deflect scrutiny with an ‘us and them’ mentality. Carbon is a good indicator of whats really happening, because the carbon added annually is a measure of tree growth. Anybody who claims Tasmania has a carbon-sustainable forest industry today, must be including national parks, land they don’t own and carbon in products they have already sold. The industry also replaces real carbon with ‘virtual carbon’. Little trees that are claimed will replace carbon at some time into the future. Data published by Gunns Ltd shows amounts of sequestered carbon way below amounts they are selling.(5) They also include carbon stored in product they have already sold. It’s worth remembering that half the product Gunns sources from Forestry Tasmania comes with a ‘carbon debt’. It could not be carbon-replaced by FT before it was sold.

The Future

National parks will be next in the loggers sights. The PR machine will go into overdrive and Peter Garrett will be convinced that jobs are more important than national parks. A sad aspect of Tasmania’s unsustainable timber industry, is that they are destroying forestry jobs for future generations of Australians. This will also be blamed on conservationists. The real culprits are the foreign investors of Japan, Sweden and the US, banking the wealth of Tasmania’s lost carbon. This is the reality behind the relentless denigration of any Australian that has ever marveled at a giant living tree in its natural place.


(1) Production figures for the year come from HERE.
2,500,000 tonnes of pulp logs from public forests.

404,000 tonnes sawlogs/veneer from public forests (converted from .809 million cubic metres using MBAC’s average density of 500Kg per cubic metre formula)

2,800,000 tonnes private forest harvest.

1,700,000 tonnes private plantation harvest.

7,404,500 tonnes total harvest.

This was a good year for the Tasmanian timber industry. A downturn was to come, but the industry has only ever been slowed by a lack of demand. The political will has always been there.

(2) Total carbon harvested for that year. The figure was multiplied by 0.5 as per the MBAC method of converting tonnes of timber to tonnes of carbon. That document can be downloaded HERE

(3) (4) Total land available for timber production in Tasmania. Courtesy DAFF and available HERE (30% of 3.2 million hectares = 960,000 hectares).
Atmospheric carbon stored on available land. The formula used was 2.083 tonnes carbon per hectare, per annum. It was extrapolated from Forestry Tasmania’s figures of 720,000 tonnes per year returned to the total estate of 1.5 million hectares. This was used for the entire commercial estate because of a lack of any other available data. FT’s figures are available HERE Forestry Tasmania’s carbon replacement figures should be a good starting point for the whole Tasmanian forest industry. Their estate size is shown HERE.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Gerry Mander

    November 16, 2009 at 10:42 am

    The other thing that does not appear in these calculations is forestry waste, which according to FIAT is about fifty percent of the volume harvested. Then there is also the soil disturbance and burning which destroys even more carbon, so you can at least double the figures for carbon losses in the primary forest harvests.

    Meanwhile the wheels spin and and all the little spruikers born of the forestry womb are out there telling us how wonderful they are and what a good job they are doing and how many jobe we can expect in the future. These little bodies set up at basically our expense are FT itself, the Government, Gunns, Stewards of the Forests, FIAT, PTR’s, Mill Task Force, DAFF, FSC, AFS and a few other I have forgotten. Busy little bees, all of them. All of them out there defending their basic rights to pillage and destroy and protect their money.

    ‘And I say to myself, it was a wonderful world!’

  2. phill PARSONS

    November 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I think there is an error although I am only going on memory. Have you not left out the ears of private forest land available for production this althering the volume of Carbon sequesterted.

    Of course the real test is the area of private land set aside as a PTR as that is allocated to production whilst it remains a PTR.

    Privately owned Carbon dense Tasmanian forests may move into the Offset market if one is established without much incentive as an annual rising income stream is very attractive against waiting for the price paid on harvest.

  3. Pretender News

    November 15, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Stewards of the Forest
    Forestry Tasmania holds a very special position in the Tasmanian community.
    The people, through its Parliament, have entrusted the care of its State forests to Forestry Tasmania.

    It is a big responsibility that we accept with great pride. On behalf of the Tasmanian people, we seek to
    maximise the environmental, social and economic benefits from the forest assets that we manage.
    Most importantly, we seek to hand on to the next generation of Tasmanians a forest asset in even
    better health and value than the forest this generation inherited.

    How about this for make believe – catch us if you can?

  4. Steve

    November 14, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    500kg per cubic metre is not kiln drying, it’s more like kiln cooking! Yes, it’s not impossible for Tassie hardwood to be in this area, but 600 – 650kg would be more honest.

  5. Pete Godfrey

    November 14, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Nice work Karl, I am curious about the weight given in the figures for sawlogs. The value of 500 kg per cubic metre must be after kiln drying.
    I have always been told that most hardwood harvested in Tassie comes in at about 1.1 tonnes per cubic metre. I guess when doing carbon calculations it is best to use the dried wood figure and leave the moisture content out.
    So much for the rubbish of being carbon negative.
    I knew that the trained scientist they kept in the dungeon had been cooking the numbers.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Receive our newsletter

Copyright © Tasmanian Times. Site by Pixel Key

To Top