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


The exotic plantation curse: an environmental and fiscal catastrophe …

*Pic: The once vast native grasslands, now denuded and converted into a biological desert. Surrey Hills.

First published October 25

Almost 3 decades ago the Tasmanian Greens advocated the growing of plantation-sourced timber as a means to supply future demands and encourage a transition out of logging native old growth forests. With specifically native timber species in mind, this was viewed by the Greens as a move towards a more sustainable industry. Since then Tasmania has become the plantation isle and what we see now is horizons of ubiquitous exotics, and disturbingly very little of it is owned within the state these days!

The ex-Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill director Greg L’Estrange recently stated in a parliamentary committee (enquiry) “If you look at the creation of the hardwood plantation estate in this State, I think the Federal Government has contributed $500 or $600 million to create 50,000 hectares, the most expensive plantation in the world’s history”.

Where is the return on such an investment? … the recent and highly questionable hardwood plantations sale, aka the Hodgman/Barnett dodgy deal of the century, will ensure there isn’t one!

Since the inception of fast-growing tree farms, little consideration was given by anyone towards the environmental and biological impacts of exotic species plantations, which were rapidly becoming dominant around the state, both on private and public land.

Exotic plantations are about quick investment return, not long-term sustainability of the environment.

Much of the exotic plantations in the north of the state were intended for the failed Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill project, which would have been another environmental atrocity in many ways had it proceeded.

Native wet-forest, cleared to plant Radiata pine adjacent to the Tarkine wilderness. The plantation is completely encircled by dense rainforest, which suggests what type of forest originated there.

Extensive soil disturbance has resulted in complete loss of biodiversity, and any organic matter. Parrawe.

Plantation harvesting over a classed stream at Takone. A Blatant disregard to the ‘so–called’ stringent Forest Practices Code.

Completely trashed landscape – Parrawe

The once wet forest near Waratah cleared and replanted with exotics reveals that no understorey species have reestablished in over 2 decades despite being immediately adjacent to virgin wet forest. The region receives an average rainfall of 2170mm with 245 rain-days per year.

Roadside weed infiltration.

As from the 1980s the Forestry Commission, like a plague, was already full swing into clearing native bushland, and then replanting with exotic species. Much of this activity was poorly thought-out beyond the fact and premise that the exotic species could be harvested far earlier than native eucalypts could be. This was a typical myopic view of the industry, which continued on until the end of the century with little environmental consideration.

On the edge of the Tarkine north and east of the Arthur River, and across the Surry Plains, plantations on private land prevail extensively across the horizon. The once-native grasslands, woodlands, scrublands, wet forests, and probably some rainforest areas have been converted to exotic species.

Late last century Forestry in Tasmania developed a fast-turnover, factory-farming ethos whereby patchwork quadrants are now blanketing the landscape with little regard towards maintaining ecological biodiversity of a region, though some plantations within the state have certainly been sown on land (disused farmland) that was already cleared.

Any forester worth their salt should know that removing native vegetation and replanting in exotics was never going to reinstate some form of ecological balance. But that’s not what modern foresters are trained for. Understanding ecology is not what foresters learn, they are simply indoctrinated into the ideology of merely cutting forests and replanting seedlings through silviculture, or to burn and reseed in monoculture, and in Tasmania’s case the exotic plantation regime seems to have prevailed.

Despite the unfounded claims and semantic arguments that native species will return to a disturbed site through seed dispersal, that appears not the case where exotics are planted. Some wet forests in Western Tasmania contain virtually no understory species beyond some ferns and allies returning to a forest decades after it was converted into plantations.

Other concerns regarding conversions from native forests to exotics plantation are the immediate loss of biota, the lack of flora and faunal biodiversity, the hydrological effects upon the land, the copious amount of pesticides sprayed over water catchments, and the disturbance and loss of humus and soil.

As for a sustainable timber industry, selective native forest logging, and regeneration thinning with long-term rotations is the only methodology that will see a native sawlog industry proceed into future, not the continuation of excessive clear-cutting of virgin forest, harvesting of immature trees, or planting of exotics, as what is presently happening throughout the state!

*Ted Mead claims exotic plantations are an abomination on the landscape, and has never considered them appealing as they are unaesthetic, mostly bland of biota, and void of the wondrous elements a well-balanced forest possesses. Ted sees the plantation obsession in Tasmania as another blight upon the mutilated landscape that Tasmanians seem to wantonly establish with little consideration to posterity. Ted believes the state’s plantations are a time bomb ticking away amidst exponential climate change when an imminent catastrophic wildfire will probably destroy most of them one day.

• Steven kons in Comments: Interesting … The Greens worked hard and effectively to destroy Gunns And Forestry Tasmania. The success has led to more wood chips and whole logs leaving the state and very limited downstream processing. Congratulations to the Greens Party. Before I get bashed as being anti Green Party I am just expressing an observation



  1. Mike Bolan

    October 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Well said Ted! During our detailed review of the so-called plans for the pulp mill, we were confronted by the plantation issue and its many problems. The Greens wouldn’t even listen to concerns about plantations, in fact they delisted one of their candidates for pointing out the inconsistency between mono-cultural plantations and the Greens charter supporting bio-diversity. Herein lies a major problem because tribalism (e.g. party politics) demands conformity from its members. Unfortunately for the tribes, the real world doesn’t conform to party dogma as your article highlights. It’s quite possible that our tendency to tribes will shortly bring us down.

  2. Frank again

    October 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    The images are a reflection of primitive thinking, short sighted greed, carelessness in society.

    However, when / after a small group of committed people with inter-generational responsibility in mined suggested in March 1994 at the AFG’s ‘Faces of Farm Forestry’ Conference in Launceston’s Albert Hall ProSilva: Quality Management in our Forests – the biggest flack came from the very people who became later on Market for Change …

    Ignorant, arrogant elitist actors. They are just as much part of the reason for why the alternative (plan C) was never given a chance.

    The logging chiefs just could fight the extreme end of the debate and just design their operations like hit and run operations.

    Google ProSilva or “the forest guild” or look for the way Slovenia managed its forests since 1948 – no clearfell – now they have more high quality timber than ever in centuries, biodiversity, pleasant landscapes, clear rivers and lakes, meaningful top quality jobs …

    Quality assurance and resource security and positive thinking.

    What a shame, Alistair & Peg!

  3. mike seabrook

    October 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    think of all the gdp in tassie and those lovely jobs in tassie funded for by the feds ( and the mainland mis investors) and also those jobs for fox hunters and more jobs when the feds hand out another $150 million to relocate the functional macquarie point sewerage treatment plant.

    tassie is entitled

    the feds could remove the fed veto on tassie building hydro/flood prevention dams if they wish tassie to be more independent/solvent.

  4. John Maddock

    October 24, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Not only Greens & Markets for Change..

    In the early 90s I remember the Wildos actively promoting plantations, presumably thinking plantations would save the forests. Wrong!

    In the early 90s, a group of us, including one of the Wildos leaders at the time, travelled in a car to Launceston for a meeting.

    While he was a “captive audience” three of us did our best to get into the Wilderness Society man’s ear on the negatives of plantations – specifically, damage to soils and the change of the water balance of the plantation area. We failed completely.

    As Frank said, what a shame.


  5. Ivo Edwards

    October 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I think we need to distinguish between Eucalyptus nitens which I agree is a disaster in the way it has been promoted in Tasmania, and Radiata Pine which I would describe as a great success, wee – apart from Forestry Tasmania practically giving away its plantations a couple of decades ago!.

    It is good in the sense that Norske Skog is going all out to utilise this species as a crop, which is profitable to them as immature pulp wood from thinning of plantations, which is a wonderfully easily worked, valuable and a fast growing renewable timber for construction and for furniture when semi mature at about 30 years old for treated pine preserved products, and for multiple other uses.

    I know people describe it disparagingly as just another mono-culture crop grown in “regimented ranks of sterile alien conifers” but I like it as a crop. It is no more a sterile crop to be despised than potatoes or pasture, in my view.

  6. Steven kons

    October 24, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Interesting …

    The Greens worked hard and effectively to destroy Gunns And Forestry Tasmania.

    The success has led to more wood chips and whole logs leaving the state and very limited downstream processing.

    Congratulations to the Greens Party.

    Before I get bashed as being anti Green Party I am just expressing an observation

  7. Peter Godfrey

    October 24, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    #7, interesting interpretation Steven.
    The woodchip exports now are nowhere near the records set when Gunns were happily sending our forests to Japan. At the peak they were exporting 5.4 million tonnes of chips to Japan.
    They were also talking about sending woodchips overseas as well as running a pulp mill and even talked at one stage of the possibility of having a second pulp mill to chip the Southern Forests.
    Whole logs have been being exported for many years, our Pine forests were being and are still being mostly exported as whole logs.
    So called sub standard hardwood logs were taken offshore to be fumigated by FT before being exported. So instead of releasing toxic gasses in our own airshed they were releasing them at sea.
    Can’t really say that I see that as a positive step.
    So yes the Greens worked to stop the stupid pulp mill but in the end the economics and bull headedness of Gunns did the job for them.
    Labor and the Liberals handed out hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to assist in that failed project.
    Now all the profits are going overseas from the mis managed MIS schemes.
    We have a super highway on the East Tamar that we never needed. We have a Meander Dam that we did not need. We have damaged upper catchments. Reduced water flows into our rivers, plus thousands of hectares of the worlds most expensive eucalypt plantations that were sold for 10% of what they cost to put in.
    I say great outcome from the Laborials there and congratulations to them too.

  8. john hayward

    October 24, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    For years, science has sought to discover the source of all-but-undetectable gravity waves.

    The mystery was finally cracked with the collision of two neutron stars over a billion years ago, which was worth the physics Nobel.

    The new scientific challenge is to discover why Tasmania continues to pour billions of public money into the rathole that is plantation forestry.

    There simply has to be an economic explanation as to why we have been pouring billions into an industry that could be fairly likened to a form of economic and environmental cancer.

    I suspect the answer lies within the depths of the Tas LibLab leadership, and that people such as Steven cons are privy to it.

    With no Nobel in the offing, it may be time to seek a local solution to the disease.

    John hayward

  9. Ted Mead

    October 24, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    #7 – Steven, I don’t see your comments as merely green bashing, what I see is a lack of understanding.

    The ubiquitous nitens plantations were always destined to be either pulp or woodchips exported overseas.

    Nobody in Tasmania has yet to come up with any viable commercial products from this fast growing timber as to downstream anything.

    As far as downstream of timber products in Tasmania goes, successive governments over the last half- century really haven’t shown any interest or willingness to invest or produce quality downstream products from Tasmania wood sources.

    The Tasmanian forest industry was woodchip-driven for about 4 decades, which beyond the subsidies and accumulative debt, was a very poor use of the state’s natural resources.

    Some sawn timber produced in Tasmania is exported but low volumes in ratio to the forests being cut and plundered, both in the past and present.

    Ta Ann is downstreaming Tasmanian timber, but the costs to the state both in subsidies, and the pillaging of the future saw log supply simply isn’t in Tasmania’s interest.

    In retrospect there was probably a viable downstream/export industry in the making once using selective logging of specialty timbers, but it is estimated that 62 million tonnes of it went up in smoke during the Gunns woodchip madness era.

    All up, governments had no vision for a viable and sustainable forest industry, and simply couldn’t see beyond the masks of their crony woodchip mates!

  10. MjF

    October 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I love plantations. You don’t need to be a forester. This is pure accounts forestry. Modelled growth rates, remeasurements, known pricing, mechanical harvesting gives predictable quotas. Easy re-establishment, plenty left in the soil, change the species if you want or grow spuds for a couple years.

    What the hell.

    Plenty of markets, good returns for owners.

    What’s not to admire and invest in ?

    Oh yes, all you recalcitrant plantation managers control your game, help fix the fences and keep your goddam fire breaks fu ctional. Nearly forgot those items Simon.

    Other than that it!s all upside.

  11. Simon Warriner

    October 24, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Fitch, you forgot about teaching log truck drivers manners.

    An industry whose risk management model contains a yawning chasm should not be so smug.

  12. spud

    October 24, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    yes, desktop accounts forestry has clearly done our state wonders fitch

    are you certain you’re not just a demented forestry apologist?

  13. Leonard Colquhoun

    October 25, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Comment #11 looks like an answer to a Life-of-Brian type question – ‘What has forestry ever done for us?’

  14. Frank again

    October 25, 2017 at 3:04 am

    After the war there is time for restoration action – beyond the blame game and finger pointing. Change is possible when we do something different.


    Scale-linking, salutogenic design for resilience

    The etymology of the word ‘health’ reveals its connection to other words such as healing, wholeness and holy. Ecological design is an art by which we aim to restore and maintain the wholeness of the entire fabric of life increasingly fragmented by specialisation, scientific reductionism and bureaucratic division. […] The standard for ecological design is neither efficiency nor productivity, but health, beginning with that of the soil and extending upward through plants, animals, and people. […] It is impossible to impair health at any level without affecting it at other levels.

    David W. Orr (2002: 29)

    The new science keeps reminding us that in this participative universe nothing lives alone. Everything comes into form because of some relationship. We are constantly called into relationship –  to information, people, events, ideas, and life. Even reality is created through our participation in relationships. We choose what we notice; we relate to certain things and ignore others. Through these chosen relationships we co-create our world. If we are interested in effecting change then it is crucial to remember that we are working within webs of relations, not with machines.

    Margaret J. Wheatley (1999: 145)
    Ultimately, the shift towards a regenerative human civilisation and increased human and planetary health will require a majority of global citizens to assume full responsibility for their co-creative involvement in shaping humanity’s and the planet’s future. To a greater or lesser extent, we are all designers of this future and we can intentionally choose to create healing relationships in the communities and ecosystems in which we participate. In 2006 my doctoral research concluded that if the basic intention behind all human design was salutogenesis, we would be able to facilitate a local and global shift towards sustainability (Wahl, 2006b).

    Valerie Brown lists two criteria that should guide human behaviour if we hope to avoid serious damage to the natural processes that maintain systemic health. We need to i) “consume nature’s flows while conserving the stocks (that is, live off the ‘interest’ while conserving natural capital”, and ii) “increase society’s stocks (human resources, civil institutions) and limit the flow of material and energy” (Brown et al., 2005). Both are central aspects of a regenerative culture.

    Salutogenic design aims to facilitate the emergence of health at and across all scales of the whole. It recognises the inextricable link between human, ecosystem and planetary health. Rather than primarily focusing on the relief of symptoms of disease or ill-health, this approach tries to promote positive health and a flourishing of the whole.

    In other words, the aim of salutogenic design is to support healthy individuals in healthy communities acting responsibly in healthy societies to nurture and maintain healthy ecosystem functioning as the basis for healthy bio-regions and ultimately a healthy biosphere. Scale-linking, salutogenic design aims to create resilient and regenerative systems at and across all scales.

    [This is an excerpt of a subchapter from Designing Regenerative Cultures, published by Triarchy Press, 2016.]

  15. MjF

    October 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

    $12 …
    I think fair to say drivers of all contraptions could display more manners. No-one is immune to risk management and that includes mums trundling down to the bus pickup an old mate in the tractor blissfully unaware he’s holding up traffic by driving down the middle of a back road.

    &13; Riddler
    The porridge dilemna ? ……give me a hand man.

    # How I love a plantation country and all its quirkiness. Refer above and below for examples.

  16. Peter Godfrey

    October 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

    #17 … Lovely stuff, Frank.

    Humans somehow get it mixed up and we cannot pretend that we are not a part of life. We are Life and we are a part of all things and we cannot exist outside of all there is.

    #18 MJF … I can agree on your road users take to a degree. Yes, all road users need to be more aware that they are at the helm of a deadly device.Being a motorcycle rider as well as a driver I am very aware of the dangers of using the roads. It is a far too common occurrence to come up to a corner only to find some lunatic who is cutting the corner because turning the wheel is too hard.

    It is nothing to find cars coming around blind corners completely straddling the centre line. It is definitely more dangerous when it is a driver of a large truck who is doing it.

    I took a photo of a fully loaded log truck going around a blind corner completely on the right of the double lines. The camber of the road meant that it was faster to just pretend he was an American.

    I have been wiped off the road by a log truck in NSW. I can attest it was not an experience that I want to repeat.

    Thanks Ted, for the work you are doing and for the effort you take to bring these matters to the attention of others.

  17. Leonard Colquhoun

    October 25, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Ah yes, what seems to be that unique Tasmanian reverse camber (#19) something we always alert mainland visitors to, as well as the ‘something in the air’ which deranges turning indicators in Tasmanian cars.

  18. Tim Thorne

    October 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I would like to remind readers that since the early 1970s I, and any relevant organisation to which I have belonged and whose policies I have been able to influence, have been completely opposed to the woodchip industry and to large scale mono-culture plantations (even, Ivo at comment #6) spuds.

    The more urgent it becomes to mitigate climate disruption the more rapidly we should be closing down industries which accelerate and exacerbate it. Growing trees in order to produce paper rather than products which would have a longer carbon retention time than the original tree constitutes an assault on the planet which cannot be sustained and should not be tolerated.

  19. john hayward

    October 25, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Fitch #11 … My factcheck started smoking while on your posting.

    How can you make money from spuds after spending a cold grand grubbing out stumps and replacing fences?

    Good returns for owners? The owners of our state forests and MIS plantations will be surprised at that. Did you mean the owners of our LibLabs?

    Controlling hungry game is doubtless harder after you have pulled down the fences to minimise your valuation and have lost the big 1080 subsidy which disappeared about the same time as Gunns.

    The firebreaks were mainly for the benefit of those who started most of the fires – you and your mates.

    John Hayward

  20. MjF

    October 25, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Jonny Half-wood above

    See what I mean? You’re a perfect example of my plantation quirkiness and potentially even a nuance but not yet an aberration. You have an objective in life now.

    I can tell you’ve never been a student of the forest sciences.

    You do a terrible cover-up.

    Are you a fats domino fan ?

  21. TGC

    October 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Whatever is happening to the logs – there’s a constant stream of trucks driving into Bell Bay/Forico – presumably it’s part of an industry.
    Could’ve been heading into a pulp mill until …

  22. Frank again

    October 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Shifting from quantitative to qualitative economic growth


    Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product, […] if we judge the United States of America by that — counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

    Senator Robert Kennedy, 1968

    We have known for a long time that judging an economy’s progress and success in quantitative (financial) terms leads to dangerous distortions and misplaced priorities. In 1972, Limits to Growth warned of the potentially devastating environmental effects of unbridled growth and resource depletion on a finite planet. While some of the predictions made were delayed by the extraordinary resilience of the planetary system, recent research suggests that we are now very close to witnessing the collapse scenario of ‘business as usual’ that the authors warned of. In their 30 years up-date to Limits to Growth the authors emphasized:

    Sustainability does not mean zero growth. Rather, a sustainable society would be interested in qualitative development, not physical expansion. …

    The distinction between good growth and bad growth can be informed by a deeper socio- ecological understanding of their impact. While bad growth externalizes the social and ecological costs of the degradation of the Earth’s eco-social systems, good growth “is growth of more efficient production processes and services which fully internalise costs that involve renewable energies, zero emissions, continual recycling of natural resources, and restoration of the Earth’s ecosystems” (p.10). Capra and Henderson conclude: “the shift from quantitative to qualitative growth […] can steer countries from environmental destruction to ecological sustainability and from unemployment, poverty, and waste to the creation of meaningful and dignified work” (p.13).

    Nurturing qualitative growth through the integration of diversity into interconnected collaborative networks at and across local, regional and global scales facilitates the emergence of regenerative cultures.

  23. Mark Poynter

    October 26, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    #2 Frank again …

    At the risk of departing from the topic of the article (which – lets face it – is a bit silly even though I love a bit of “green-bashing” probably more than most!), your ongoing advocacy of Pro-Silva for Tasmania deserves some response.

    I was in the audience at Albert Hall that day in 1994 when you introduced the concept of Pro-Silva. Since then, on innumerable occasions, it has been put to you that although it may be a worthwhile concept applicable to European forests and perhaps some Australian dry forest types. The wettest southern Australian eucalypt forests are simply not suited to it because they naturally require drastic disturbance (usually by fire) to successfully regenerate.

    You have stoically resisted all attempts to make you see reason, and while not wishing to again regale you with all the research effort that has gone into verifying the truth of that over several decades, I would draw your attention to the following scientific paper published recently in a peer reviewed journal.

    Australian Forestry Volume 78:1 (March 2015):

    Is continuous-cover silviculture, as practised in Bavaria, suitable for use in wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania, Australia?
    by J. Hickey, M. Neyland, A. Rothe, J. Bauhus

    Part of the Abstract reads as follows:

    “Appropriate silviculture, based on natural forest dynamics and ecological attributes of tree species, is fundamental to the sustainable management of native (natural and semi-natural) forests for wood production.
    Continuous-cover silviculture works well in shade-tolerant spruce–fir–beech forests of Central Europe (in this paper, we use the German state of Bavaria as a typical example) and can be regarded as ‘close-to-nature’, particularly where there is a focus on maintaining some old-growth elements for long-term retention.
    Continuous-cover silviculture, however, cannot be regarded as ‘close-to-nature’ for Australian wet eucalypt forests, which are dominated by shade-intolerant eucalypts that are dependent on intensive disturbance, usually associated with fires, for their regeneration”

  24. Frank again

    October 26, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Dear oh dear, Mark Poynter again, as we have not had plenty of discussion opportunities.
    When I read the “Bavarian Continuous Cover…” article at the time years ago (well before 2015) I was very disappointed that the two Tasmanian authors of that article were able to hoodwink the visiting German Foresters into this simplistic comparison. I had never pointed to a Bavarian Forestry model! If Neyland & Hickey had the guts and the ethics all these years ago, they would have arranged for Rothe & Bauhus to meet with me in a Tasmanian Forest. It was just done sneakily, cunningly, or let’s call it within their selected knowledge silo.
    Anyhow I am not interested trying to change you Mark Poynter. How can you respond and defend the mismanagement of the Tasmanian and Victorian Forests and the conversion of so many formerly species rich, age diverse and high quality forests into simplistic flammable tree crops.

    Needless to say that eventually and more recently I had the pleasure to meet and walk with Andreas Rothe into a Tasmanian wet forest here in the Tamar Region, and we had a very good time and a very professional discussion based on mutual respect and agreement.

    ProSilva stand ‘for the forest’ and if these total quality approach would have been adopted all these years ago we would no longer argue about what a forest is and the 1959 invented term “Wet Eucalypt Forest” would be just history.

    You were trained to focus on Eucalypts, or on pioneer species, ProSilva style forest management, as demonstrated best in Slovenia, is not just limited to the English invented term “continuous cover forestry”.

    But just sticking to your outdated Eucalypt agenda has created the situation that the Tasmanian and most Australian Forest Industries have created. We now import more and more solid timber from overseas because the good stuff is gone Mr. Poynter. The proof is out there.

    Have a good weekend.

  25. Russell

    October 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Re #7
    “The Greens worked hard and effectively to destroy Gunns And Forestry Tasmania.”

    Um, no. Gunns, Forestry Tasmania AND the Tasmanian Government worked tirelessly hard and effectively to destroy themselves and the state’s economy.

    Re #11
    “This is pure accounts forestry. Modelled growth rates, remeasurements, known pricing, mechanical harvesting gives predictable quotas.”

    Then how come Gunns went arse up, all the MIS investors lost their money and FT has run at multi-million dollar losses for at least three decades?

    Forest science obviously doesn’t include real-world accounting, maths or good business management.

  26. MjF

    October 27, 2017 at 11:54 am

    The old Forestry Commission first started planting broadscale plantations in the 1940’s on abandoned farmland cleared primarily on State Forest under lease and by also acquiring freehold blocks including unsuccessful early soldier settler ventures.

    This investment in P radiata had twin purpose.

    Firstly it was in response to a perceived need for a local softwood supply based on trends and demands in other countries and which could be grown in quick time. Perceived demand for sawn timber post WW11 in a rapidly developing Australia was not rocket science as we were on the winning side after all. Surely positive spinoffs after that result.

    Secondly and importantly it was initiated for employment purposes so that returning soldiers and localised labour then in the doldrums could immediately return to employment and acquire some degree of prosperity.

    Can you wowsers imagine that ?

    Governments of the day being concerned enough over unemployment to undertake investment in a resource development industry to keep men and women actively employed and off the scrap heap.

    No multiple degrees, further education and peer reviewed papers needed.

    No consideration for loss of biodiversity, threatened species, local road issues, monocultures, fire hazard, water consumption, weeds (which were largely present to start with),
    liss of property values (???), ” trashing of the landscape”, soil degradation and my fave, catchment devastation (LOL) etc etc

    People were more important in those days.

    Whatever were our political masters thinking ?

    Initiating all this long term environmental degradation and harm surely.

    Funny that one about soils which the author likes to bang on about, 75 years later pine trees are still powering out of the ground in NE and NW Tasmania after multiple rotations. I guess it’s all just a mirage and can’t really be happening as the soils must be completely impoverished by now, right ?

    If not when does soil nonproductivity actually kick in ?

    Plantations have been part of our rural landscape and social fabric for 3/4 of a century and still there’s a ‘story ‘?

    I don’t think so. Let the trees grow, let the harvests continue and let the replanting begin. Land gets bought and sold, always has, always will.

    Eventually a status quo will be reached, then it’ll all change again.

  27. Mark Poynter

    October 27, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    #28 Frank …

    A predictable response from you I guess. So I’ll limit my response to your claim about supposedly mismanaged Tas and Vic forests:

    For this to be true, there would be a state-wide landscape of logged-out and poorly regenerated (or unregenerated) forests. Yet what we have is a situation where the vast majority of forests – particularly in Victoria where 94% is effectively reserved – are not even used for timber anymore. While the areas that are used are typically comprised of vigourous post-logging regrowth. It is therefore drawing a pretty long bow to label this overall situation as ‘mismanagement’ stemming from timber production.

    This wasn’t always the case though, and in the aftermath of WW2 when our native forests were still our overwhelming source of wood products for domestic use, the wettest eucalypt forests were often highly degraded because of past uncontrolled partial cutting for sawlogs-only and a related failure of regeneration. This was due to the shade intolerance of the eucalypts and the overpoweringly luxuriant regrowth of understorey spp in the absence of fire, thereby preventing the formation of suitable seedbeds for eucalypt germination.

    The introduction of the clearfall-burn-sow process was in large part designed to restore these wet forests from the unnaturally degraded state that they had descended into. Again I would suggest that this is an example of good management even though you clearly disagree. Sadly your description of them as ‘simplistic flammable tree crops’ is at odds with the reality of how most of these forests regrow after fire in even-aged stands that over time naturally recapture their biodiversity and structure.

    I’m not saying that these forests are perfect and it is clear that, especially in Victoria, they are like every other forest type threatened by invasive pests plants and introduced carnivores, and by the prospect of unnatural fire regimes. However, to suggest that this is overwhelmingly due to logging which is limited to only a minor portion of their extent is clearly wrong.

    I agree that it would be interesting to have walked with the German foresters in a wet eucalypt forest. Even more so if they had been provided with access to all the past research effort which has been already devoted to examining and trialling alternative silvicultural approaches to their management.

  28. Mark Poynter

    October 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    #29 … Dear Russell

    Have you heard of the Global Financial Crisis?

  29. MjF

    October 27, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    #29 … A reasonable question from you langfield, something of a rariety.

    Gunns and all others failed because they were too highly leveraged. They borrowed too much and couldn’t repay it. Same as any business that falls over.

    At the end of the day, too much going out, not enough coming in.

    The respective ex-boards, CEO’s and CFO’s still have a lot to answer for.

    I’m equally amazed how the well paid executives and so called business people of these orgs all fell into the same trap and seemingly didn’t see it coming.

    One local company had already failed once but traded out of administration then failed again to finally collapse. Nothing learnt we might conclude.

    One can also question the ethics of the business banking world as well which heavily supported the forest companies until they eventually had to call in the debts.

    STT is truly an enigma, I am not familiar with their business model but I cannot understand how they continuously run at a loss while working with a free asset and increasingly reduced overheads. It defies logic.

    Plantations can still operated more accountants rather than foresters if the proper principles of assets vs liabilities and profit/loss are followed. Most of the variables are so predictable across a relatively short time frame. You can even insure against total loss.

  30. Simon Warriner

    October 27, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    re #29 …
    Isn’t there an old axiom about having eliminated all other possibilities, whatever remains must be the reason?

  31. Tony Stone

    October 28, 2017 at 10:34 am

    A long term viable forestry plan is a very simple thing to achieve. You can also create one which takes into account many other environmental improvements and safety issues.

    First we have to look at what we will face in the future – environmentally, economically and socially, and then devise a plan which covers as many bases a possible so they can blend to give us a cohesive approach and outcome.

    Our future will consist or increasing temperatures, wind speeds and accumulating fire danger. We not only need to address those scenarios but rather grow our economy and protect our homes and environment.

    Instead of clear-felling and chip mill eucalyptus quality plantations, we could establish plantations of Tas specialty timbers that will help mitigate fire storms and protect communities with Blackwood and green wattle plantations around communities and strategically placed corridors of fire resistant trees throughout the state to slow and stop fires. These plantations could be culled and regrown thereby providing timber for specialty crafts and fully value-added products.

    This way we don’t affect our native forests dramatically and develop long term industry while protecting communities from fire storms and increase employment. We could grow commercial cannabis for paper, cloth, ropes and foods. This would remove the need for chip plantations and would provide our farming industries with another easily grown cash crop as as well as establish mew rural industry and businesses.

  32. Ted Mead

    October 28, 2017 at 11:51 am

    #35 – Yes Tony, a logical vision there!

    The problem with logic and foresight in forestry matters is that it doesn’t exist in this state or many other places.

    Native Forestry in Tas has always been about pillage and plundering.

    Plantation forestry is about quick turnover through subsidised processes.

    Climate Change will compound the problems the industry faces in the future, particularly if there is a broad-scale wildfire that destroys production forest areas. This seems inevitable!

    The future for wood related products such as pulp fibre will probably be derived from the likes of hemp plantations.

    As for quality sawlogs, the supply is basically on the skids with Ta Ann and the ongoing myopic clearfell mentality.

    Like many aspects of industries there is always change, but with forestry that won’t happen until they have exhausted all possibilities through self-destruction of resource supply.

    I’m sure they are currently investigating the same modus operandi for Tasmania’s so-called rainforest reserves because they can’t help themselves and they know of no other way!

    It’s frustrating to sit and watch all this happen, but I think they know they have no future markets.

    The wheels should have fallen off the Forestry train-wreck a decade ago, but unfortunately governments keep underwriting it.

    And just like a religious faith, the native forest plundering zealots live and hope for a second coming!

  33. max

    October 28, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    What Forestry Tasmania has failed to grasp in their clear-fell mentality, is that 90% of special timbers are a one-off harvest. There will never be another crop as they are not sustainable. Sooner rather than later they will be gone and future generations will only be able to see surviving antique furniture examples or trees in un-plundered parks and reserves.

    It must verge on a criminal activity to continue to deplete a vanishing commodity for a few more boats or tables and chairs. There are other beautiful timbers that are sustainable. These people would still shoot the last Tasmanian tiger for a rug.

  34. Tony Stone

    October 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    #36 … Ted, you are right and that’s why we have to get rid of the current political parties and then the system by replacing it with online people-voting and governance which would take 1-2 years to accomplish.

    There is no other choice because otherwise we have no hope of a viable, sustainable future.

    We can easily get rid of Ta Ann and all other future destroying industries and replacing them with sustainable 21st century industry, small business and viable approaches.

  35. Tim Thorne

    October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    #38 … Tony, I like your optimism – “We can easily get rid of Ta Ann …”

    Similar organisations have self-destructed in the past, often through greedy over-reach, but if you are suggesting that “we” can achieve this, and presumably not have them replaced by something similar, then I am interested to know who you include in your “we”, and how “we” are going to go about it.

  36. TGC

    October 28, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    #25 … “Yes, a constant stream to tax-payer subsidised brand new log trucks.”
    I think it is likely most Tasmanians and most Australians would be against government subsidies of any kind, and for anything – unless of course – such a subsidy could benefit ‘me’!

  37. spikey

    October 28, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    followed by not letting any of the players anywhere near our resources
    ever again
    if they get out of brighton detention centre

  38. MjF

    October 28, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    The ‘we’ can only mean one thing – the A team of “thinking Tasmanians acting hereabouts for the good of all” so announced recently by the officer and gentleman, Mr J Hawkins of Chuddley district (on an alternate thread).

    I’m sure I’ve heard this mantra before as a Greens platform. Or was it one Nation or maybe the Shooters and Camping Party ?

  39. MjF

    October 28, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    # 41;.1
    Spikey ? who ?…I get it… It’s steve.
    The ideas man.

  40. spikey

    October 28, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    lighten up fitch
    when proven knowingly irresponsible
    at behest of foreign interest
    you’ll be glad of brighton over nauru
    and happy to be prodded in that direction
    best hope i’m not up front
    my fork skills been honed

    guess it depends who’s got the contractual keys
    for the fletcher memorial home

  41. Tony Stone

    October 29, 2017 at 8:13 am

    #39 Tim, “we” refers to the people of Tasmania and no one else. How do we do it, by placing the running of government directly into the hands of the people, via online policy and direction voting.

    The technology is available, it would take less than a year to develop and build an extremely secure, safe and stable governance online system, only accessible by registered voters.

    You can’t trust parties or supposed independents, they all have agenda’s revolving round fantasy land. So the only other approach is for the people to be in full control and that could only happen if we elected those who put that into operation.

    Won’t happen though, to late and everyone is out for themselves. So finding those who are willing to be elected, so they work towards losing their jobs, is probably impossible

  42. Tim Thorne

    October 29, 2017 at 10:32 am

    #45 … Tony, this seems a swift drop from optimism to despair. If the vast majority of “the people of Tasmania” have consistently been voting Labor or Liberal for decades, why would you trust them to suddenly want to change the system?

    Perhaps you need to think all this through again.

  43. Frank again

    October 29, 2017 at 11:51 am

    And then there are alternative examples to the usual cynicism displayed under Down Under:

    Introductory film to the SEKEM Initiative.
    Published on Jan 25, 2012
    Restoration, rebuilding, – growing and building a healthy community from the ground up. …

  44. Jack Lumber

    October 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    sorry , just bothered to reread after first looking at Ted’s trieste awhile back

    Yep wasn’t much of a paper from the start and hasn’t improved .

    Thanks Peg , Christine , Bob , Alistair , Vica and Phillip for the continued support of plantations

    Havent the rest of you got some fish farms to whine about 🙂

  45. Tony Stone

    October 29, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    #46 … No optimism or despair, just putting forward a solution and stating facts regarding the mentality of the ideological human race.

    One look round the planet shows we are stuffed as a race and incredibly destructively irresponsible. One look at people’s shopping trolleys shows we have no compassion for other life, sustainability, or environmental responsibility.

    It’s perfectly understandable why the people won’t change anything and so things will continue as they are. No amount of suggestions put forward to break the fatalistic mold that everyone seems locked in will be taken up.

    Only empty daydreams, lies and false promises will be accepted by the people. Forestry will continue clear felling and subsidising wasteful, destructive industry.

    The people will accept the lies and deception of the ruling ideologues; their parties will be re-elected no matter how badly they continue to fail the future and thus means that our society and environment will sink rapidly into oblivion amidst sociological turmoil, environmental collapse, devastating weather and fire storms.

    I’m being positive in looking for alternative ways to improve the forestry situation and make it a positive for our island and future, rather than a complete negative as it is now.

    Forestry Tasmania operations and methodologies are a major contributing factor to forest fires, and if they had half a brain between the lot of them they would be developing protective forestry rather than destructive wasteful forestry.

  46. MjF

    October 29, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    #44 … KO, steve – I’ll see your fork and raise you jousting sticks.

  47. Frank again

    October 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Tony Stone #49 “… developing protective forestry rather than destructive wasteful forestry.”

    That sounds very logical and this is why I keep providing links to a best practice example of restorative forest management practices, practicing commercially + socially + environmentally responsible forest management practices.

    Anyone not interested in positive change may just skip my contributions rather than complaining about my quality focus.

    1. Statistical overview of Forests in Slovenia:

    Forests cover more than half of the territory of Slovenia, not to mention the large population of trees growing among fields, meadows and settlements. Despite the major exploitation of forests, especially notable in past centuries in this part of central Europe, Slovenia has to a large extent managed to preserve the original forest communities and populations of indigenous trees as well as the numerous associated plant and animal species.

    Now, even more than in the past, forestry is faced with a number of problems that make sustainable forest management yet more demanding. Wood, as an important renewable natural resource, is unfortunately being replaced by other, environmentally less friendly substances which reduce its market value. The proposal has even been made that, for environmental reasons, forest management should be completely abandoned. Our nature-based, multipurpose forest management, which accords with environmental protection principles and with the protection of natural values, must meet all the expectations of modern times to the maximum possible extent. …

    Under Slovenian geologic, climatic and hydrological conditions, the protective role of forests is reflected in the protection of settlements, technical infrastructure and agricultural land against natural disasters. The present situation, enabling the use of land for relatively stable agricultural production, can only be maintained in Slovenia through a relatively high forest cover.

    The economic significance of forests for Slovenia – which lacks other natural resources – is therefore of major importance.

    Tab. 1 – Changes in the forest area in Slovenia in the period 1875 – 2003
    Year: 1875
    Forest area: 737000 ha
    Forest cover: 36%)

    Year: 2005
    Forest area:1169000 ha
    Forest cover: 58%

    2. Responsible forest planning and practices:
    How to conserve forests by using them http://www.zgs.si/fileadmin/zgs/English/Publications/ZGS-SonarG-ANG_small.pdf

  48. Leonard Colquhoun

    October 29, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    About interpreting #49’s “the ideological human race”: is “ideological” used in a similar sense to ‘the two-legged human race’? Or as in ‘the red-haired human race’?

    If the former, it’s a nonsensically unnatural generalisation; if the latter, it’s largely irrelevant to the point being argued.

    Clarification, anyone?

  49. mike seabrook

    October 29, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    # 33 yeh, the financiers and investors etc. etc.(to my regret) thought that gunns was too big to fail and that the state pollies would always support them – we woz wrong.

  50. MjF

    October 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Other way round seabrook
    The pollies thought the banks would always support them. It was to be easy for the pollies then with a never ending bankroll, life was to be good.
    Handshakes, press conferences, ribbon cutting, photo opportunites etc

  51. Tony Stone

    October 30, 2017 at 8:14 am

    #52 … Leonard, both if you have the capacity to understand that form of logic.

    It’s facts which determine veracity and the definition of an ideologue as one who supports, believes in, sticks with and hopes for a certain fantasy outcome against the reality.

    One look at the entire human race, and in our case Tasmanians, shows factually that we are all desperately sticking with the status quo political, social and life approach which us destroying our future.

    What is natural is the denial everyone is steeped in with the mantra, it’s not me – it’s someone else’s problem and fault, or someone else’s job to fix things.

    That’s why we have the forestry crisis and determination to continue with ever increasingly destructive practices. Whilst the population does nothing but electorally provides these fools with the power to continue with their fatalistic works.

    You claim it is not an ideologically controlled society. Denial is the hallmark of an ideologue Leonard, and a ideological religion in itself. Combine it with monotheistic religion, religion of economic growth at any cost, and we have a prime example of extremely fervent ideologues.

    However I’m sure you and others have many ideas of how to fix the problems we face with forestry and the rest of our society. So let’s just leave it as it is, not rock the boat and see what we end up with in 2 years, by putting our faith in the current political and bureaucratic system, again.

  52. Russell

    October 30, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Re #30
    “Governments of the day being concerned enough over unemployment to undertake investment in a resource development industry to keep men and women actively employed and off the scrap heap.

    No multiple degrees, further education and peer reviewed papers needed.

    No consideration for loss of biodiversity, threatened species, local road issues, monocultures, fire hazard, water consumption, weeds (which were largely present to start with),
    liss of property values (???), ” trashing of the landscape”, soil degradation and my fave, catchment devastation (LOL) etc etc”

    And nothing has changed has it Martin? EXCEPT that we aren’t so stupid to believe such crap. It was, and still is, done at the beckoning of a handfull of lobbyists.

    And for your “fave”, ever heard of land salinity and water degradation and their main cause? Yes, tree/vegetation loss.

    “If not when does soil nonproductivity actually kick in ?”

    How come more and more land has to be cleared of trees if that land is so productive, yet most of it seems unused? There is already enough cleared land to grow all the food we require so it seems your “soil nonproductivity” has ALREADY kicked in.

    Plantations, like cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, plastic and chemical pollution and political corruption have been part of our rural landscape and anti-social fabric for 3/4 of a century, but that doesn’t mean they are good or should stay.

    Re #32
    “Have you heard of the Global Financial Crisis?”

    Yes and you know damn well that had nothing to do with Gunns going arse up and FT continually running losses for three decades which was also decades before any GFC.

  53. Brian

    October 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    A lot of half-truths and simple non-truths appearing here.

    As somebody who was there at the time I can state with certainty that the position of the Green Independents (as they were then) and TWS on plantations was based on EXISTING plantations and a great deal of work and effort went into preventing further plantation establishment, especially when clearing native forest was a prerequisite.

    The argument was always about how best to utilise what had already been established. This is not nuance; it is and was the central argument. To try and state otherwise is wrong and misses the point. As such, the opening sentence in this article is simply incorrect.

    This was also a time when the Green Independents spent years bringing to the public’s attention issues such as the Forestry Commission debt, the subsidies being directed into logging and so on. It is certainly much easier to sustain arguments against the industry now these arguments have been run and won but it is a bit unfair to throw shade on those who did that hard work in the first place!

    Anybody who is attempting to place any blame for plantation establishment on the Greens or the environment movement is either deliberately or mistakenly misleading people. The Greens did not establish plantations, no matter how much history is bent and twisted.

  54. MjF

    October 30, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    #56 … Hi Russell,

    Hard to know where to start with your latest offering. I guess sensibility was only gonna last so long, hey ?

    Firstly I congratulate you on your ongoing ability to copy and paste lengthy amounts of text. Good control of the touch-pad or do you cheat and use a mouse ?

    I do. Can’t stand touch-pads. Like Facebook.

    Secondly, yes I am familiar with land salinity. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is not a problem experienced in Tasmania as a result of conversion of native forest to plantation.

    We do not have the Murray-Darling issues in Tasmania as a result of clearing remnant woodland for agriculture, but thanks for trying to expand the debate.

    Not a product of Forestry.

    There is no more clearing of native forests in Tasmania for plantation establishment to speak of. I am personally aware of 20 ha being additionally cleared last financial year for new plantations statewide. It’s effectively over.

    Check the latest PNFE policy numbers.

    The only cutting down of plantation trees is for 2R or 3R or 4R, That’s what happens when planted trees have been around for 75 years or so.

    The rest of your ramble is nonsensical. I do suggest that, apart from the obvious financial returns of plantations, they are good and should stay.

    What else are serial whingers like you going to whine about otherwise ?

  55. Russell

    November 2, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Re #58
    “Secondly, yes I am familiar with land salinity. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is not a problem experienced in Tasmania as a result of conversion of native forest to plantation.”

    No, but it is a result of land clearing which is the business of the timber industry.

    ” I do suggest that, apart from the obvious financial returns of plantations, they are good and should stay.”

    And FT has recorded ANOTHER multi-million dollar loss, and is going to flog off (gift) to the lowest bidder the most expensive plantation estate on the planet.

    Well done FT, well done Martin.

  56. MjF

    November 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    #59 Do your research langfield

    Accumulation of excess salts in the soil is as a result of poor agricultural practices on weak and vulnerable soils which are typically devoid of any significant natural vegetation to start with.

    Land clearing of vegetation including trees is not a forest activity.

    Regenerating native forests and establishing plantations (which are good and should stay remember) are forest activities.

    You’re up the wrong creek old timer.

    Agree, another poor result for STT.

    Little point in congratulating me but, I have nothing to do with that organisation and can’t affect their results.

    FYI, they aren’t “going to flog off to the lowest bidder”…….blah blah

    They have sold a portion of the estate to the successful bidder several weeks ago – if that bidding party was the lowest bidder or not, you have no idea but would just like think that because negativity suits you best.

    Same as you have no idea if the plantations are/were the worlds most expensive or not. How do you come up with that one ?

    Got anything remotely true, relevant, current and of general interest to anyone ?


  57. Russell

    November 7, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Re #60
    “Accumulation of excess salts in the soil is as a result of poor agricultural practices on weak and vulnerable soils which are typically devoid of any significant natural vegetation to start with.”

    In conjunction with raising the water table due to deforestation and land clearing. Go take a walk along the Murray, it used to be Red Gum forest as far as the eye could see. Plenty of old photos on pub walls showing just that.

    “Land clearing of vegetation including trees is not a forest activity.”

    Really? Take a drive along the Surrey Hills/Murchison Highway. What do you call the practice of firing the landscape to be void of even grass?

    “FYI, they aren’t “going to flog off to the lowest bidder”…….blah blah”

    $60million for the most expensive plantation ‘estate’ in the world IS giving it away to the lowest bidder, otherwise they would sell it in smaller lots to make more money OR give it back to the public to whom it belongs.

    Listen! I hear someone whistling you.

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