Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Going Bush … err Bust (now with added notes)

Forestry Tasmania spends significant amounts of “commercial in confidence” monies on media propaganda such as the Going Bush TV series and TV adverts promoting it as a sustainable and responsible forest manager, however detailed scrutiny of publicly available information casts FT in a somewhat different light.

My analysis of FT’s latest wood volume and values in respect of 2009/10 (1) shows that the value generated by volume ranges from $61 per tonne for native woodchips up to $136 per cubic metre for native hardwood veneer and, inexplicably, special species timber only produced $120 per cubic metre demonstrating that it has been sold for far less than its true worth.

As a comparison, for every 100 native trees logged by FT in year 2009/10:

• 50 were burnt on the forest floor as residue/waste

• 36 produced further waste as pulpwood for Gunns/Artec woodchip mills

• 8 produced peeler logs for Ta Ann’s veeer mills

• 5 produced high quality sawlogs for sawmillers

• 1 produced low grade sawlogs for sawmillers

• 0.33 produced special species logs for the furniture and crafts sector

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I can only conclude that there is something intrinsically rotten with a GBE which is legislated (1A) “to optimize the economic returns from its wood production activities; and the benefits to the public and the State of the non-wood values of forests” yet:

• Generates annual income of less than $1.5M for our iconic special species timbers which are valued at only $120/cubic metre which is similar to the price Tasmanians pay for firewood – FT claims (2) that more than 2,000 people are employed full time within the sector and a further 8,500 people participate in woodcraft activities as a hobby or on a limited commercial level which means that they must be paying less than an average yearly amount of $150 for some of the world’s most precious and beautiful timber species

• Signs a long term wood supply agreement with Ta Ann (3) which provides wood so cheaply that it was more economic for Ta Ann to establish, with generous taxpayer funded assistance, and operate its veneer mills near Smithton and Geeveston than in its own Malaysian homeland (4)

• Signs long term wood supply agreements with Gunns (3) but fails to pursue Gunns for $33M in unpaid debt (5) for breaching its agreements caused by its own business decision to move out of native forests (6)

• Is the major contributor to an industry that has recently been estimated to burn 7.2M tonnes of wood as waste on the forest floor (7) which is more than double FT’s entire annual wood production volume (1)

• Is the major contributor to an industry that emits more carbon dioxide from planned burns alone than the rest of Tasmania’s current emissions of 8.4M tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (8)

• Sells high quality sawlogs for processing into low grade veneer because it cannot find another buyer whilst it carves up and trashes World Heritage value forest such as that in the Upper Florentine Valley into woodchips on the pretext of meeting market demand for sawlogs (9)

• Significantly exceeded, with apparent impunity, the minimum legislated requirement to supply 300,000 cubic metres of sawlogs and veneer logs annually in each of the four years from 2005/06 to 2008/09 (1)

• Obstinately refuses to accept the Forest Stewardship Council accreditation system as a globally recognised benchmark for sustainable forest management (10)

• Undermines the Statement of Principles to which it is supposedly bound by opening up new areas of HCV forests, extending contracts and actively seeking new low value Chinese markets (11)

• Misuses tens of millions of dollars of TCFA public funds converting thousands of hectares of native forests to plantations (12) despite claiming to have ceased converting in 2007 (13). This has also resulted in “the most expensive plantations in the world” according to evidence given by Greg L’Estrange to a parliamentary committee (14).

• Spends in excess of $100M on years of research and establishment of genetically improved (sic) non-native eucalyptus nitens plantations which were reputedly meant to provide high quality sawlogs (15) but now claims that an additional 94,162 hectares of plantation forest and investment of $500M would be required if Tasmania moved from native forest harvesting to plantation timber and that the existing 18,000 hectares of eucalyptus nitens would need to be converted at maturity to frost-sensitive eucalyptus globulus (16)

• Misuses tens of millions of dollars of TCFA public funding for working capital to avoid trading whilst insolvent and fails to expend the monies as intended (17)

• Pays no dividends and loses millions of dollars of taxpayers monies every year (17)

• Demands further open ended multi million dollar taxpayer funded assistance when critical front-line public services such as health, education, ambulance, fire, police etc. are being subject to savage budget cuts (16, 17)

• Dismisses a carbon trading offer which would protect our native forests and generate $50-100M for Tasmanians every year for the next 25 years (18, 19)

• Attempted to assist the recent insidious proposal by Aprin to buy the defunct loss making Triabunna woodchip mill with the aid of taxpayer funded assistance by signing a letter of intent to supply wood to a shelf company with no assets (20)

• Spends millions of dollars on self-promoting media propaganda yet fails to repair washed out roads, bridges and tracks to visitor sites on the pretext that it “does not have the resources to commit to the extensive repairs” (21)

• Is unable to account for almost 200,000 hectares of Crown land which appears to have gone missing after a series of unusual transactions (22, 23)

• Is protected and never held to account by impotent Tasmanian bodies such as the EPA, Auditor, Ombudsman and Integrity Commission (24)

It is even worse when the Minister directly responsible for the dysfunctional performance of this GBE is criminally negligent in his duties and responsibilities to the Tasmanian people.

And the final insult is when the intergovernmental Heads of Agreement fails to recognise let alone address any of this litany of gross failure (25).

References

(1) Forestry Tasmania Stewardship Report 2010 – Appendix 2 Sustainable Forest Management Data Tables

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/uploads/File/pdf/pdf2010/appendix2_data_tables_2010.pdf

(1A) Forestry Act 1920 – Section 7

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/tas/consol_act/fa1920139/

(2) Forestry Tasmania Special Timbers Strategy February 2010

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/uploads/File/pdf/pdf2010/special%20timbers%20strategy%20ssml.pdf

(3) Forestry Tasmania Wood Supply Agreements

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/forest-management/wood-supply-agreements

(4) The Mercury article 9 July 2010

http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/07/09/157601_tasmania-news.html

(5) The Mercury article 22 July 2011

http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/07/22/247401_tasmania-news.html

(6) Gunns announcement to ASX 10 September 2010

http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20100910/pdf/31sfk1fmdv189d.pdf

(7) Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy 2006 – Revised Contribution of PM10 Emissions from Forest Industry Burns and Domestic Wood Heating December 2009

http://www.environment.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=7609

(8) Tasmanian Government Media Release 26 July 2011

http://www.media.tas.gov.au/release.php?id=32859

(9) The Mercury article 14 January 2009

http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2009/01/14/49611_tasmania-news.html

(10) The Mercury article 27 January 2010

http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/01/27/124141_tasmania-news.html

(11) ABC News article 27 July 2011

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-27/20110727-new-market-for-tas-logs/2812532

(12) Forestry Tasmania Right to Information Release December 2010

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/uploads/File/pdf/rti2010/rti_10_13_mars.pdf

(13) Forestry Tasmania Media Release 1 June 2007

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/news/2007/06/end-of-conversion-of-native-forests-to-plantations-1st-june-2007

(14) The Mercury article 16 June 2011

http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/06/16/237981_tasmania-news.html

(15) Forestry Tasmania website article

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/science/research-stories/new-seed-orchard-advances-e-nitens-genetic-improvement-program

(16) The Examiner article 29 July 2011

http://www.examiner.com.au/news/local/news/politics/plantation-expansion-predicted/2241776.aspx

(17) Tasmanian Times article by John Lawrence 11 July 2011

http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/worth-the-wait-a-look-at-the-auditor-generals-review-of-forestry-tasmania/

(18) Reddforests letter to FT 10 June 2011

http://mps.tas.greens.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Jun14_REDD-Forests-Deal-Good-for-State_K-Booth_ATTACH.pdf

(19) Forestry Tasmania Media Release 30 June 2011

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/news-room/media-releases/redd-forests-and-forestry-tasmania-meet

(20) Forestry Tasmania Media Release 14 June 2011

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/news-room/media-releases/ft-welcomes-new-owner-for-triabunna

(21) Forestry Tasmania Media Release 12 April 2011

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/news/2011/04/forest-visitor-sites-closed-indefinitely

(22) Tasmanian Times article by John Hayward 18 June 2007

http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/article/the-great-land-swap/

(23) The Age article 18 September 2005

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/gone-missing-200000-hectares-of-tasmania/2005/09/17/1126750170193.html

(24) ABC news article 11 June 2010

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-06-11/no-charges-over-forestry-burn-offs/862822

(25) Prime Minister of Australia media release 24 July 2011

http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/australian-and-tasmanian-governments-support-future-tasmanian-forestry?t=dXNlcmlkPTM4MTQxNyxlbWFpbGlkPTIzMg==

Notes:

This article has been drawn together to summarise some of my recent disparate comments posted on TT. PB is a Tasmanian-based free spirit independent of any political party. Pb on the other hand is the chemical symbol for the element lead which is one of 92 naturally occurring chemical elements in the Universe.

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

7 Comments

  1. john hayward

    August 6, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “Stop, thief” is apparently too subtle for Tasmania.

    What can we do?

    John Hayward

  2. PB

    August 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    #4, I’ve also asked the Ed to add the missing links.

    With regard to the conversion of native forest to plantations, FT claims to have stopped in 2007 but page 10 of its latest report shows that it has subsequently converted:

    4,550 hectares in 2006/07
    3,200 hectares in 2007/08
    2,191 hectares in 2008/09
    701 hectares in 2009/10

    http://www.forestrytas.com.au/uploads/File/pdf/pdf2010/appendix2_data_tables_2010.pdf

  3. Barnaby Drake

    August 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    #4 …but it had clearfelled much more than that area of native forest in the same period, which could have been converted to plantation, but was not, as this practice was outlawed by the TCFA and stopped in 2007.

    That statement is a forestry lie. They continued to clearfell and convert to e.nitens plantations long after that date. I documented some of this on TT about the Liffey Falls area where they clearfelled right up to the World Heritage areas and converted to plantations and also a couple of other areas I observed around the Great Western Tiers. I believe the same thing happened in the Tarkine.

  4. lmxly

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Reference after #16 seems to have been omitted. Could they please be added, Editor.

    And incidentally, ref #12 does not prove that FT has continued conversion of native forest to plantations. It simply gives the amount of money spent by FT out of TCFA funds on “Intensive Forest Management’ which includes plantation establishment and maintenance. In fact, FT only planted about 12,000ha of its intended 16,000ha of plantations under this program because it had no more land – but it had clearfelled much more than that area of native forest in the same period, which could have been converted to plantation, but was not, as this practice was outlawed by the TCFA and stopped in 2007.

  5. John Biggs

    August 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    A very comprehensive analysis: congratulations. And your clincher: “And the final insult is when the intergovernmental Heads of Agreement fails to recognise let alone address any of this litany of gross failure (25).”

    There is an awful lot wrong with the HoA but that sums it all up: Gillard as ever wanted a quick fix so she could move forward to put her finger in the next leaking dyke, and Giddings, in thrall to the timber industry and her messmate Paul Lennon, and no doubt also wanting to see the mess as fixed. Neither saw the big picture and all its complications, although Lara keeps alluding to them without evidently understanding them.

    Not surprising then that there is massive misunderstanding on all sides: on the forestry and farmers part for thinking (or rather asserting) that 470,000 ha have been “locked up” when they haven’t; on Gunns part, where “misunderstanding” becomes downright delusional, for thinking this gives them the social licence for the mill + $100,000 compensation for making their own misjudgements; on some of the ENGOs side for seeming to think that we should support the HoA seemingly on the grounds that this is the best we’ll get.

    It’s a cliche but this is the blind-men-and-the-elephant stuff: each is convinced what they touch is the complete truth. I never thought I’d live to agree with Dick Adams but this is essentially what he is saying.

  6. John Wade

    August 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Ta Ann – Howard – green appeasement – Gillard – illegal immigrants – continued and extended wood supply agreements in Tas forests – the hand-over of government cash ?

    Lots of questions in this mix.

  7. Barnaby Drake

    August 4, 2011 at 7:23 am

    It has also drastically failed to fund its retirement benefit schemes for all its (ex)employees – something like $500 million needed to cover this amount.

    Fails to present anything like a decent annual accounts and blocked the annual reports for the last three years.

    Keeps their ex bosses on as consultants long after they retire on high fees.

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