Tasmanian Times

Adventure and Wilderness

Tasmanian TREE FERNS … an Indicator of corruption ?

Photograph - Samuel Clifford ’Fern Tree Gully Near the Huon Road' -  circa 1873. W.L.Crowther Library, SLT

Firstly, a short history by Gwenda Sheridan, the eminent Tasmanian garden historian, as written for The Companion to Tasmanian History

Tree Ferns (Soft tree fern, Manfern, Dicksonia antarctica) form part of the under-storey of tall wet forests and rainforests in Tasmania, and they can live for up to 250 years. An early reference to tree ferns in Tasmania comes in 1827 when Thomas Scott, a merchant of Launceston in a letter to Dr Hooker in Glasgow, alludes to an ‘extraordinary fern, (the fern Tree)’. By 1832, John Glover painted tree ferns on the foothills of Mount Wellington, while Baron von Hügel commented on their large fronds in 1834. Skinner Prout and others painted them in the 1840s, while Louisa Meredith described an enchantingly exquisite northern valley thus: ‘we were in a world of fern-trees, some palm-like and of gigantic size’. Such references predate tree fern interest in Victoria.

Piguenit used tree ferns to decorate his Salmon Ponds lithographs and work for the Cascade Brewery. By the latter half of the nineteenth century a whole micro-landscape using the fern tree theme at Fern Tree Bower, Mount Wellington,  had been created, and captured well in a painting by AH Fullwood. Fern groves were favourite photographic subjects by many in the latter half of the nineteenth century. As fern fever mounted in Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s, tree ferns became an exchange plant for the Royal Society‘s Garden, and sent overseas in Wardian cases. They were used widely in the beautification of huts on Mount Wellington for decorating many important civic occasions, and even today on the British market they can fetch from £99 to £599 (about A$1,500).

Gwenda Sheridan – Copyright 2006, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies.

The outside world was first alerted to the uncontrolled export of Tasmanian tree ferns by an essay written by Stephanie Roth published on 6th March, 2002 in The Guardian:

It is estimated that 90,000 Tasmanian fern trees are exported each year. Tasmanian environmentalists now fear that many have been taken from the wild, and that the increasing demand for the plant will serve as a catalyst to log even more old-growth forests in order to “rescue” even more tree ferns.

Dicksonia antarctica is a valuable commodity for good reason – it only grows up to 5cm (2 inches) in height per year, and reproduces for the first time after about 23 years. Gardeners buy by the trunk length and prices start from £20 for a 20cm (8in) high plant. Both the Royal Horticultural Society and BBC Gardener’s World websites are currently offering plants that have taken 30 to 40 years to reach between 75cm and one metre (3-4ft) for between £145 and £166.

Yet in Australia and in Britain, the tree is marketed as having been “saved” from Tasmanian forests where ordinary trees have been felled for wood chips. And Environment Australia, the national environment body, has refused to issue export permission for any fern trees taken from Tasmania’s unregulated market. So how did the Tasmanian trees find their way into Europe?

The state of Victoria has a regulated system for fern tree harvesting. Due to the constitutional right to free trade between the states, Tasmanian fern trees were sent to Victoria where the Victoria Department of Natural Resources and Environment simply tagged them as ‘Victorian’ and issued them with export permits, thus circumventing Environment Australia’s soft-ban …

A promise was made to change the situation last January when the Tasmanian government introduced legislation to control the fern tree laundering and to get its share of a market estimated to be worth £12 m. Fern Trees from Tasmania now will be issued with export permits and a Tasmanian tag. Fern tree harvesting has been brought under the control of the Forest Practices Code (FPC) which will monitor the industry closely. For the next five years or more, the taking of fern trees will only occur as ‘salvage harvesting’ from forests which are to be clear-felled,

Forestry Tasmania estimates that there are over 17 m tree ferns in formal and informal reserves, and over 26m in other forests. Graham fears that the Tasmania tag would see a glut of commercial exploitation. “Such a programme would allow substantial economic return to the state in the next five years,” reads the Forest Practices management plan.

The introduction to a disgraced forestry industry of a tagged licencing system for the sale of Tasmanian tree ferns provided Richard Flanagan with a hard-hitting introduction to his iconic essay published in The Monthly in May 2007 – The tragedy of Tasmania’s forests …

This story begins with a Tasmanian man fern (Dicksonia antarctica) for sale in a London nursery. Along with the healthy price tag, some £160, is a note: “This tree fern has been salvage harvested in accordance with a management plan approved by the Governments of Tasmania and the Commonwealth of Australia.” If you were to believe both governments, that plan ensures that Tasmania has a sustainable logging industry – one which, according to the federal minister responsible for forests, Eric Abetz, is “the best managed in the world.” 

The truth is otherwise. The man fern – possibly several centuries old – comes from native forests destroyed by a logging industry that was recently found to be illegal by the Federal Court of Australia. It comes either from primeval rainforest that has been evolving for millennia or from wet eucalypt forests, some of which contain the mighty Eucalyptus regnans. These aptly named kings of trees are the tallest hardwood trees and flowering plants on Earth; some are more than 20 metres in girth and 90 metres in height. The forests are being destroyed in Tasmania, in spite of widespread community opposition and increasing international concern … 

The responsible body for appointing and supervising the contracted Forest Practices Officers (FPOs) that oversee the harvesting of Tasmanian tree ferns is the state’s Forest Practices Authority (FPA). The FPA authorises the issuing of a Forest Practices Plan (FPPs) a document that details the number and size of the tagged harvest in the field as per the recommendations of the FPO:

The harvesting of tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) is strictly regulated in Tasmania and is confined to the salvage of stems from forests that are being cleared for infrastructure, agriculture or plantation. Harvesting may only occur under an FPP that authorises salvage. Operations must be conducted in accordance with a management plan for the sustainable harvesting of tree ferns that has been endorsed by the Australian and Tasmanian governments. All tree ferns must have tags issued by the FPA affixed to their stems prior to removal from a harvesting area. These tags must remain on the stems at all times to ensure that the origin of tree ferns can be tracked to approved harvesting areas. The majority of tree ferns harvested in Tasmania are exported to national and international markets. 

I have extracted the following figures from the Annual Reports of the Forest Practices Authority of Tasmania for 2017-2018 regarding the harvesting of Tasmanian tree ferns, and the introduction of tags gifted then and now for a pittance to this rapacious industry.

2002 -2003 tree fern tags issued: 64,182 and this when the legal harvesting of tree ferns was at a maximum as Tasmania wood chipped at a loss 6 million tonnes of forests a year allowing their salvage.

2003 – 2004 tags: 54,866.

2004 – 2005 tags: 61,368.

Then the numbers fell every year as the logging of native forests imploded and Gunns headed towards bankruptcy leaving Forestry Tasmania unpaid and bankrupt until bailed out by the 2012 Tasmanian Intergovernmental Forest Agreement.

2010 – 2011 tags: 10,729. This coincidentally was the year of the one and only FPA compliance audit when the tags produced an income stream of $37,000.

As usual in Tasmania, as soon as that moment of compliance had passed things rapidly changed:

2011 – 2012 tags: 22,177 – income $24,000. How can the number of tags double and the money received drop?

Currently … 2017 -2018 tags 26,100 with income $32,000.

 

These tags give legitimacy and value to the tree fern in the hands of the purchaser and the final vendors. Without the tags the product is virtually worthless, if not unsaleable. They were issued in 2018 at between at 79 cents and $1.58, according to tree fern size, by the FPO on behalf of the FPA as per his FPP. This is down from $2.34 in 2006.

How very Tasmanian that the taxpayer receives a reducing pittance for a valuable forest commodity in a world of escalating prices. The forestry insiders have reduced the price by an average of 100% over the last 12 years.

The sum received for the tags by the FPA in 2017 -2018 of $32,000 is supposed to fund:

  • Administration of the tree fern system within the FPA.
  • Database and record keeping within the FPA.
  • Monitoring within the FPA.
  • Enforcement within the FPA.
  • Research into options for sustainable tree fern harvesting.

From the FPA chart below it can be seen that the harvesting of the Tasmanian tree fern closely matches the collapse of the Native forest demolition industry, and mirrors the falling numbers Salvaged.

The clear felling and burning and then the conversion to plantations of Tasmanian forests has fallen off a cliff since 2007, as can be seen from the above FPA chart. It is now virtually zero, yet the number of tree ferns harvested has shot up for the year 2017 – 2018 to a 26,100. This tagged figure correlates to the forest harvest in 2008 when clear felling and burning, hence salvage, was some 16 times higher.

I have recently been in discussion on Tasmanian Times with Martin J Fitch (MJF),  a former Tasmanian Forest Practices Officer (FPO) and pro-forestry comment contributor on Tasmanian Times.

He is both articulate and well-resourced, and good at defending and/or promoting the arcane world of the logging industry in Tasmania which, with its twists and turns and specific complex details, are set to trap and divert the researcher.

Before he weighs into the debate to point out my errors, I have a number of questions he may care to answer …

  • Who set the price of FPA tags, the Minister or the FPA?
  • Who determines in the field which of two sizes should be used?
  • Who measures each tree fern and attaches the appropriate tag?
  • The tag gives the tree fern a considerable commercial value – do you think the price of a tag is sufficient? It is less than the cost of single cigarette.
  • Where are today’s tree ferns coming from?
  • With no Native Forest logging, do they come from Crown Land, and if so, who authorises their removal when harvesting may only occur under a FPP that salvages?
  • The 2017 – 2018 FPA Annual Report – Sale of Goods and Services notes that: Amounts earned in the exchange for the provision of goods are recognised when the significant rewards of ownership have been transferred to the buyer As a Forest Practices Officer can you explain exactly what this means?
  • After the issuing of tags, and the collection of those that were unused, is the harvest inspected and counted to tally with the FPP by the responsible FPO?
  • Have you ever been offered, as a FPO, a reward in a Brown Paper Bag to increase the numbers of tree ferns allowed to be harvested in your proposed FPP,  and if so, did you report the matter?
  • If the market was assessed to be worth A$12 million in 2002, why does the FPA settle for a return of $32,000 in 2018?

The number of tags issued for the harvesting of Tasmanian tree ferns for 2017 – 2018 was 26,100 and they can only be harvested as salvage.

I suggest, based on the historical numbers salvaged which closely correlates with the hectares logged, that the tree fern is the perfect indicator of corruption over due process in the Tasmanian logging industry.

What say you, Mr Fitch?

John Hawkins was born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 16 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and over 100 articles on British and Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 76 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.

General Robley with his unique collection one of the world’s iconic photographs of an island native culture

As Silent as a Darwinian Fitch in a Tasmanian Tree Fern

Fitch you are a working Tasmanian Forest Practices Officer with a detailed and complete knowledge of the Tasmanian tree fern and the forest industry on this island, an industry which as shown by your comments on this site you are anxious to promote and protect. Your deafening silence on the subject of tree ferns shows you in full damage control as you duck and weave through past those who try to hold you and your industry to account.

To tempt you into answering the fern tree questions I will expand on the hint I gave you over General Robley. You raised the subject of heads as a throwaway line during our initial windmill tilting, a matter over which I have some knowledge.

General Robley wrote two books relating to his time in New Zealand, Moko or Maori Tattooing in 1896 and Pounamu: Notes on New Zealand Greenstone. I happen to own a very fine collection of New Zealand, gold fields, greenstone jewellery, created by Scottish and German lapidaries in and around Dunedin (The ancient Gallic word for Edinburgh) in the 1870’s a result of the gold rushes of the 19th century.

In the General’s first book, as well as demonstrating and explaining the art of Māori tattooing, he wrote in detail about the drying and preserving the tattooed heads of great warriors defeated in battle then kept and celebrated. From his time in New Zealand during in the Maori wars the General built up this unique collection of 35 heads.

The General with his unique collection one of the worlds iconic photograph’s of an island native culture.

In 1908 he offered them to the New Zealand Government for £1,000; his offer was refused. Later, with the exception of the five best examples which he retained, the collection was purchased by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for the equivalent of £1,250. He died in London on 29 October 1930. The missionary Samuel Marsden was seemingly the only Australian owner of a Maori head, collected during one of his 6 visits to NZ before his death in 1838.

As an aside, NZ has completely destroyed its old growth forests containing unique, rare and valuable cabinet timbers which like ours will never be replaced.

Then it never had the advantage of a Forest Practices Authority full of such exalted beings as the –  Forest Practices Officer!

 

 

 

 

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

38 Comments

  1. Rob Halton

    February 10, 2019 at 8:38 am

    MJP, please be well aware that Mr Hawkins has now made it clear that his is a head-hunting quest to add an FPO or two to his zoomorphic collection, and that you are definitely within his sights!

  2. MJF

    February 8, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Hey Spikey, There’s no cause for alarm as your Facebook account holds zero interest for me. My people are similarly inclined. If your fern harvester confidante Facebook communicating aficionado mate chooses to only gather up the easiest ferns and leave others behind, isn’t that their call ? It is a salvage matter, after all. No-one twists their arm to go get them.

    If you could confirm that via a Facebook chat with your registered tree fern harvester informant then please do so. We are not debating which ferns to take and which to leave, are we ?

    Mr Hawkins thinks the tag price is way too low for what is a monumentally rich trade as exposed in a Green essay featured in The Guardian back in 2002. Yes, 17 years ago at the peak of the woodchip wars. Those were the days, Spikey.

    I now ask .. where is the ever observant Mr Holloway to point out how old that evidence is ? He takes great delight in exposing that kind of thing.

    What does your preferred tree fern harvester informant say about tag prices, Spikey ?

    In fact, if you, your mystery person and Messrs Hawkins and Mead get together, then this whole messy affair could be resolved, I think.

    You gone a bit limp Spikey, with not one fascist to be seen in your last couple of posts. The sun is more in favour now.

    I’m having trouble keeping up with you.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Martin, it’s the addressing of readers by their surnames alone that is objectionable here. It is deemed contemptuous, which in many instances is obviously intended. Tasmanian Times is not a military installation.

    In this instance, Spikey is taken as the poster’s preferred first name, peculiar as it is, so please drop the sarcastic ‘Mr Spikey’.

    — Moderator

    • spikey

      February 9, 2019 at 7:54 am

      Mr Fitch, the facebook reference, was merely an indication that my knowledge comes from personal experience and the harvesters themselves. Not 2nd 3rd or 4th hand as you suggested, in the manner of discrediting me and my information sources.

      Its hardly surprising a bloke may need to talk to the actual harvesters about what is going on, when the usually ‘full of facts’ Mr Fitch clams up, attempts distraction and links totally useless uninformative propaganda websites.

      I notice you failed to answer any of my questions.
      I notice you failed to answer most of Mr Hawkins.
      I notice Robin seems as ignorant on these matters as you.

      Why would FPO’s study psychology, as an exit from unsustainability, with no intention of becoming psychologists?

  3. John Hawkins

    February 8, 2019 at 9:50 am

    As Silent as a Darwinian Fitch in a Tasmanian Tree Fern.

    Martin Fitch, you are a working Tasmanian Forest Practices Officer with a detailed and complete knowledge of the Tasmanian tree fern and the forest industry on this island, an industry which, as shown by your comments on this site, you are anxious to promote and protect.

    Your deafening silence on the subject of tree ferns shows you in full damage control as you duck and weave through and past those who try to hold you and your industry to account.

    To tempt you into answering the fern tree questions I will expand on the hint I gave you over General Robley. You raised the subject of heads as a throwaway line during our initial windmill tilting, a matter over which I have some knowledge.

    General Robley wrote two books relating to his time in New Zealand, namely Moko (or Maori Tattooing) in 1896, and ‘Pounamu: Notes on New Zealand Greenstone’. I happen to own a very fine collection of New Zealand goldfields greenstone jewellery, as created by Scottish and German lapidaries in and around Dunedin (The ancient Gallic word for Edinburgh) in the 1870s a result of the gold rushes of the 19th century.

    In the General’s first book, and as well as demonstrating and explaining the art of Māori tattooing, he wrote in detail about the drying and preserving of the tattooed heads of great warriors defeated in battle, then kept and celebrated. From his time in New Zealand during the Maori wars, the General built up this unique collection of 35 heads.

    The General, with his unique collection, had one of the world’s iconic photographs of an island native culture.

    In 1908 he offered them to the New Zealand Government for £1,000 but his offer was refused. Later, with the exception of the five best examples which he retained, the collection was purchased by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for the equivalent of £1,250.

    He died in London on 29 October, 1930. The missionary Samuel Marsden was seemingly the only Australian owner of a Maori head, collected during one of his 6 visits to NZ before his death in 1838.

    As an aside, NZ has completely destroyed its old growth forests containing unique, rare and valuable cabinet timbers which, like ours, will never be replaced.

    But then, it never had the advantage of a Forest Practices Authority full of such exalted beings as .. Forest Practices Officers!

    • MJF

      February 8, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      Re Gobley … a most interesting tangent Mr Hawkins, but I think well off topic. I don’t want you to provoke a lecturing from the Moderator as poor old Mr Halton did a little while ago.

      Re the special timbers. Yes, the British colonists were particularly ruthless and short sighted with NZ’s native woods. Fortunately in VDL, it will never disappear. As you know, 40% of public forests are reserved and counting. If the truth is ever revealed, a lot of rainforest in formal reserve remains unburnt and always will.

      You have my suggested course of fern action. In fact I have offered two, now. Your good self, Mr Mead, Mr Riddoch and his mystery preferred fern harvester, are well placed to resolve it all between you. Hell, even invite Mr Capper and Ms Rosser along for good measure.

      Goodbye.

      • Rob Halton

        February 8, 2019 at 4:14 pm

        Stick with us Martin dont let those snakes in the grass drive you out there is a lot of different opinions that clash, I have endured my share of insults but never directly from John Hawkins who I would like to meet when he throws one of his dinner parties at Bentleigh. Its a matter of an invitation coming our way!

        I had a smirk on my face when you were reprimanded by our Commanding Officer “Tasmania times is not a military installation”! What not Commonwealth property!

        We both a needed to resolve the wildfire situation our messages are an invaluable contribution for keeping TT alive and interesting.

        The man ferns will bounce back so there should be abundant to safeguard the species into the future, we can all take it easy!

  4. John Hawkins

    February 7, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    MJF – Martin J. Fitch … Are you related to TGC – Trevor Cowell the Examiner Poster Boy?

    His moronic comments did him no favours.

    I extracted the above from my ongoing research on the Lilydale water supply for which you were the Forest Practices Officer.

    I am glad you find my discoveries to be reasonably accurate. Where are my mistakes?

    One question .. did you resign or were you asked to resign as a result of the outcry over the Lilydale FPP .. or is your leave of absence not related?

    Or am I being being mischievous?

    • MjF

      February 7, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      No Mr Hawkins, but I think I’m distantly related to sometime LCC attack dog and one time alderman Basil.

      Why have you ignored royalty payments from manfern harvesting in your half-baked article ?

      Have you been to see the Regulator yet ?

      I’m not aware of any informed and accurate opinion or ensuing fallout over Lilydale’s old water scheme.

      I am aware of scurrilous and baseless innuendo and gossip perpetuated by ignorant folk who actually know very little of the background to the long standing water issues in that community.

      Is that what you’re referring to, Mr Hawkins ? If so then yes, in my opinion mischievous, as it applies to you, is not too strong a word.

      I remember the occasion the Lilydale Action Group or Network or whatever it was called, brought over an old proclaimed heavy hitter hydrology expert from Victoria to tear the place up. Professor somebody. Anyway, because the operation was proposed for private property he needed the landowner’s permission to visit the site to avoid a trespassing charge. What do you recall the result to be ? Professor X was last seen posing on the Town Hall steps before departing, preaching to the media pack how he had been refused entry to said site and couldn’t apply his ‘science’.

      We laughed about that for yonks.

      Back to manferns.

  5. MjF

    February 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    “MJF … Gross mismanagement is the operative word here!
    If they are going to salvage Tree ferns then that should be done before a clear-fell massacre, as most of them would get trashed in the logging process of broad-scale insensitive harvesting.”

    They are removed prior to the clear-fell massacre Mr Mead, so it’s not mismanaged. How else would the contractors get undamaged ferns out ?

    Surely an old hand like you (experienced but not necessarily an expert) knew that ?

    • Ted Mead

      February 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      That’s put a good idea into my head. I will try and find a destined coupe with copious Tree ferns and do a time-lapse of harvesting from start to finish, something that I suspect will prove you wrong.

      What’s the bet that most of the current extraction is being plundered from the riparian zones or accessible stream-side reserves that are classed for protection?

      I doubt very few are being carried from deep within a coupe through heavy entanglement to the back of a waiting ute.

      I wonder if anyone has, or does, oversee this harvesting in situ?

      Decades ago it used to be open-slather, although I am sure there are some regulations now.

      Anything’s possible!

      • MjF

        February 7, 2019 at 4:49 pm

        Depending on the operator, they’ll use small 4WD tractors, trailers, and pre-cut tracks through the scrub, and loaded into containers at the roadside. You don’t know much about regulated commercial ferning do you, Mr Mead ?

        Some time-lapse would be sensational.

        • spikey

          February 7, 2019 at 6:20 pm

          Yeah, I had several good chats with one of our registered tree fern harvesters. His vocal support for logging contentious forests was amusing.

          What he struggled with was the reality that our fern harvest was completely unsustainable. That the fact he ‘needed’ to access more native forest was somewhat at odds with the reality that we’ve been harvesting timber for a long time now, and there should be plenty of the size he requires in current plantations.

          Other questions he simply failed to answer, and I’m sure Mr Fitch will be happy to provide a link to some useless forestry propaganda.

          Included:

          What percentage of ferns are removed? Personal experience of coupes is that the burn piles usually contain many large mature ferns.

          How old are they? Steady on there tigers, sure you can show me some ‘sizes harvested’ and ‘optimum growth rates’ but if optimum growth rates occurred often, our coupes would be full of giants. Reality is, 90 year rotation, following clear-fell and burn, is unlikely to provide the larger specimens. Reality is, 90 year rotation was a crock that nobody pretends to use in current management anyway.

          What I personally find hilarious, having looked into this fern caper since some demented forestry apologist dissed me, is that Mr ‘here’s a website’ is teasing others about not knowing the answers to some very pertinent questions.

          And it’s his job to know this stuff.

          • MjF

            February 7, 2019 at 7:05 pm

            No worries Mr Spike. Reality is that it’s completely accurate 2nd hand rubbish .. or is it 3rd hand or .. maybe 4th or even 5th by the time you arrive at some snippet you think worthwhile embellishing a little more and then typing out.

            What’s your favourite apple Mr Spike ? I can tell that you’re rather partial.

          • spikey

            February 7, 2019 at 8:02 pm

            No Mr Fitch, I’m talking about first hand conversations done on that Facebook thing.

            Fortunately I screenshotted the best bits, and perhaps I’ll share some as this investigation continues. As far as my other allegations go, they are based on first hand experience also. It’s hardly surprising the environmentally sensitive fern boys rip the easiest and the best, and leave most for the dozers and napalm. Perhaps now the ‘decimation/harvest’ rate of forest has waned they’ll pick a few more up here and there, but it just wasn’t economic to bother picking them all when the industry was rampant.

            Another hilarious aside: I bet the fern boys earned more for the state, at a ciggie a stem, than the tree and chip boys did. Apparently they cost the state, and the country and the world, a lot of money, and a lot of carbon.

          • Ted Mead

            February 7, 2019 at 8:06 pm

            Tree fern growth rates are approximately 1 metre per 40 years in ideal conditions, so even in regrowth forests at a 90 year rotation, after they take many years to establish, it means the ferns won’t grow to be big.

            This scenario is at an optimistic best considering the over-cutting rates of the industry in native forest, as it has been noted that the rotation rates maybe not be even half of their set objectives.

            Hardly sustainable in any form of the word.

        • Ted Mead

          February 7, 2019 at 7:52 pm

          You’re correct. I don’t know much about the extraction methods of Tree fern harvesting.

          What I do know is that the administration costs of the fat-cat STT dunderheads would certainly outweigh the royalty revenue received through such processes.

          It’s just more nature-plundering that comes at a cost to the taxpayer once again!

          This is how Tasmania operates.

          • spikey

            February 7, 2019 at 10:25 pm

            Hey Mr Fitch, while you and your advisors are in damage control mode and investigating my Facebook account, you may choose to bring up the strange tendency for FPOs to study Psychology as part of their exit from unsustainable practices.

            Were you by any chance, one of the many making use of free education whilst the sun shone?

  6. Brenda Rosser

    February 5, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    I would be interested to know the answers to your questions, John. Thanks for the investigative work that you’ve done.

    I don’t hold out much hope that you will find evidence of genuine regulation.

  7. Geoff Capper

    February 5, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    “Regulation of Tree Fern Harvesting in Tasmania” [1] does nothing to answer the questions raised.

    Perhaps you were instead thinking of: “Treefern management plan for the sustainable harvesting, transporting or trading of Dicksonia antarctica in Tasmania 2017” ([2][3]) though both versions I looked through also fail to answer any of the questions raised.

    I guess the problem is that explaining dodgy accounting defeats the purpose!

    Regardless, no matter how I look through these reports I can’t see anywhere an explanation as to why we’re giving away the tags for a pittance!

    [1] https://www.fpa.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/110205/Regulation_of_treefern_harvesting_in_Tasmania_-_summary_for_website.pdf
    [2] https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/605a78d8-a9a1-4a72-81af-046442573488/files/tas-treefern-2012.pdf
    [3] https://www.fpa.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/159809/Tasmanian_Treefern_Management_Plan_2017.pdf

  8. spikey

    February 5, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    eating popcorn emoticon
    at a card game
    with many jokers
    and a lot to lose

  9. John Hawkins

    February 5, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Martin J Fitch …

    You failed to mention that you have reapplied and been reappointed as a Forest Practices Officer with the FPA in December 2018, after an absence of years.

    You are therefore at the cutting edge in this matter. Further you know a lot about this subject.

    Many FPOs will not submit or create FPPs for tree ferns, and they specifically make reference to this in the statement of work that they are prepared to take on.

    Why is this? Are you one of these?

    Your failure to respond directly to my questions suggests that you have a lot to hide. Is this why you comment on this site as MJF?.

    Yes, I have read “Regulation of Tree Fern Harvesting in Tasmania”. Lots of weasel words .. and no meat.

    Maor General Horatio Gordon Robley is your man on Maori heads. Google him.

    • MjF

      February 5, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      Mr Hawkins …

      I choose to respond to questions if I find them reasonable and with good intent. You are a noted mischief maker and I’m certainly not obligated or inclined to indulge your fantasy ideas and conspiracy theories.

      Quite frankly your range of questions are largely nonsensical and poorly formulated. I think the treefern regs are completely self explanatory, to the point, and without a hint of a weasel word.

      Perhaps intentionally you have overlooked the royalties paid for manferns by focusing solely on income from the purchase of tags. Is it better for you to tell only part of the story to skew the results ?

      This is what mischief makers do.

      You could also Google the current (2017) treefern management plan for further reference, but alas I suspect you will find the wording not to your liking.

      Do you still employ a PA ? Is that person remunerated correctly and appropriately ?

    • Rob Halton

      February 6, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      John Hawkins, I had a good laugh at your expense. MJF deems you a mischief maker, you old devil, ha hah!

  10. MjF

    February 5, 2019 at 9:05 am

    This is what I say, Mr Hawkins …

    For a man as busy as you claim to be, what with the worldly demand for ivory based curios and trinkets, shrunken missionary heads, etc etc, you seem to have a lot of time to devote to Tasmanian forestry. I can only conclude that you have impeccable time management skills, much to my envy. I welcome your queries re the manfernning trade, none-the-less.

    For the most part you should direct your enquiries to the regulatory body, the FPA, in the first instance. You seem to have been busy cherry picking their annual reports of late. They have produced a document, that you may not have seen, entitled “Regulation of Tree Fern Harvesting in Tasmania”. You can source that with a simple internet search, and then most of your queries will then be satisfied, I feel.

    The minister may also be of some help if you can gain her ear. You have mentioned her in dispatches, after all.

    • Ted Mead

      February 5, 2019 at 10:04 pm

      In reference to shrunken heads, there must be a lot of that going down in STT and FPA these days because the IQ levels within the missionary forest industry are constantly on a rapid decline.

      “Anything and everything must and will be cut” is surely the motto so as to keep the archaic greased wheels forever turning.

      The so-called tree fern mismanagement plan is probably not worth the paper it is written on, and would only be contributing to the loss of more taxpayers’ funds at the end of the day.

      It’s just another ignominious rort, wretched scandal or pitiful use of free resources.

      • MjF

        February 6, 2019 at 6:07 pm

        My guess Ted, would be that the Tasmanian Manfern Management Plan 2017 is authored and revised by people with considerably more scientific knowledge in this area than you have. They possibly have formal education in ecology, botany, zoology .. and practical knowledge of harvesting and flora management etc.

        I know education ranks very high with you.

        It’s just my guess of course. Whatever you choose to call this plan has no relevance.

        • Ted Mead

          February 6, 2019 at 7:43 pm

          My pertinent point here is that I don’t oppose selective harvesting of Dicksonia, just as I don’t oppose the selective logging of native forest.

          The notable issue is a matter of sustainability and sane economics of which both FT were, and STT are presently, incapable of providing, as everything they cut is in attrition and comes at a loss to the taxpayer, so there is no rational logic to operate at all.

          Even FT stated last century that mixed forest, particularly wet communities, were likely to be exhausted in supply by 2025, and had Gunns and their insatiable ethos still be running rampant that would have been the case!

          All across the globe corporations throw shiploads of science, and its biased data, to justify their plundering agendas.

          STT’s harvest management strategy is just another cog in that blinkered wheel.

          • MJF

            February 7, 2019 at 10:55 am

            Clearfell is here to stay Mr Mead, as you well know, so from that scenario you don’t then support salvage harvest of manferns coming from clear-fells ?

            You would prefer to waste them in a hot burn (although some will certainly re-sprout in situ) ?

            The reality is that the export market determines piece size and shape for manferns, ie, some are too big, some too small, some are too bent, some are forked, some too oval, etc. etc.

            Ferns taken are in fact selectively targeted to meet specifications, regardless of the native forest silviculture employed.

            Domestic sales may account for some relaxing of shapes and sizes, but this portion of the overall trade is minuscule.

          • Ted Mead

            February 7, 2019 at 12:43 pm

            MJF … Gross mismanagement is the operative word here!

            If they are going to salvage Tree ferns then that should be done before a clear-fell massacre, as most of them would get trashed in the logging process of broad-scale insensitive harvesting.

            As for perpetual clear felling operations of native forests .. you are probably correct, and that is a major reason why STT will never obtain FSC, as it has been outlined in previous rejections.

        • spikey

          February 6, 2019 at 9:09 pm

          My guess is that fascist ‘industrial science’, in which nothing matters other than getting away with as much as possible, is likely in play here.

          They might not teach the difference at the sausage factory.
          They might not preach the difference at UTAS.

          I’m feel that the decline in quoll numbers might correlate better to fern harvest, and associated clear-fell, burn and poison, than warm wet events.

          I’m also fairly sure the widespread foxes must be suffering from smoke inhalation by now.

          • MjF

            February 7, 2019 at 11:07 am

            Ha ha! Nice one, Mr Spike.

            I was rather hoping you would pull out a fascist or two, but now UTAS is a complete bonus.

            You seldom disappoint.

            How is the lobster potting ?

    • Mark Poynter

      February 6, 2019 at 3:25 pm

      MJF … Your first paragraph is GOLD!! Dare I say Seinfield-esque!
      In the article, Mr Hawkins has described you as “articulate and well-resourced”. I agree with the first, but what is meant by ‘well resourced’?

      In the poisoned minds of conspiracy theorists it seems that informed commentary volunteered by someone with a professional interest must instead be the work of a be-suited, well-paid career lobbyist working from the city-office of a multi-national corporation.

      • MJF

        February 6, 2019 at 6:18 pm

        I don’t know exactly what Mr Hawkins meant, Mr Poynter. He still believes I work for STT though. He will not listen to anything I suggest.

        He also recently advised he used to employ a gardener at his estate when he didn’t have a garden ! I guess that means there’s no ornamental manferns out there, at least.

        He’s a bit of a worry.

        • John Hawkins

          February 6, 2019 at 9:09 pm

          Mr Fitch, I trust this will help regarding the matter of your employment. If I am wrong I am sure you will correct me.

          In my article published on TT: “The Annual Reports of the Forest Practices Authority” on 5 June 2017 you asked me to apologise for stating that you had been at any time an employee of Forestry Tasmania. This I did as a comment thus:

          John Hawkins June 5, 2017 at 11:23 pm

          “I apologise to Martin J. Fitch for stating that he has ever been an employee of Forestry Tasmania.”

          So there we have it for the second time.

          This desire to distance yourself at all costs from Forestry Tasmania is quite understandable, but somewhat inexplicable.

          Why do you hate them so much?

          In December 2018, Mr Fitch was re-appointed as a practicing Forest Practices Officer by the FPA, so he is clearly in a position to answer the questions regarding tree ferns as posed here.

          The fact that he will not shows a lack of fortitude and character, for he is a persistent provider of pro-forestry platitudes on this site.

          He will presumably charge his services as an FPO through his company:

          Real Forest Planning Pty. Ltd.
          130426309
          Australian Company Number
          85130426309
          Australian Business Number
          Registered
          Status
          2008/04/02
          Registration date
          Limited by Shares
          Class
          Proprietary other
          Subclass
          Australian proprietary company
          Type
          Registered on 2008-04-02 and given the 130426309 ACN, Real Forest Planning Pty Ltd is a limited by shares Australian proprietary company. It is headquartered in the state of Queensland, post code 4575. Previously company could be found in Tasmania post code 7249 (from 2011-09-13 to 2016-02-08), Tasmania post code 7249 (from 2011-09-09 to 2011-09-13), and Tasmania post code 7250 (from 2008-04-08 to 2011-09-09). Real Forest Planning Pty Ltd used a total of 1 ABN trading name namely: Real Forest Planning Pty Ltd – from 2008-04-08. The company registered for GST on 2008-04-08. The information on Real Forest Planning Pty Ltd was extracted from the Australian Business Register on 07-03-2018. The ABR database was last updated on 2016-02-08.

          PS: We do have tree ferns on our property.
          .

          • MJF

            February 7, 2019 at 11:42 am

            Mr Hawkins …

            This summary is reasonably accurate, and I applaud your attention to detail .. this time.

            “This desire to distance yourself at all costs from Forestry Tasmania is quite understandable, but somewhat inexplicable. Why do you hate them so much?”

            My only desire was for you to correct yourself and cease peddling a myth.

            I certainly bear no malice toward FC/FT/STT. I don’t agree with everything they have done, and do, but that isn’t hate, Mr Hawkins. I do respect their right to undertake lawful activities.

            Now back to your fern dilemma. I have provided a way forward for your posse of questions, so take advantage of it. Mr Capper and Ms Rosser are also welcome to approach the regulator in their quest for answers. Perhaps a combined effort might be the most effective way.

      • spikey

        February 6, 2019 at 9:15 pm

        Ha ha! Nice one, Mark.
        At least you’ve stopped with the world’s best practice one-liners.
        It’s 2019, Sunshine.

        Our governments our unashamedly run by corporations, and don’t bother pretending this is not so.

        Are you a bit slow on the uptake? Or does your statement actually seem legitimate from your well educated, one-of-the-boys position?
        Perhaps you should leave the career lobbying to Mr Fitch and his ferns.

        • Mark Poynter

          February 8, 2019 at 9:27 am

          Spikey, thanks for confirming my thoughts about conspiracy theorists, Well, I think that is what can be deduced from your strange rambling.

          • spikey

            February 9, 2019 at 8:06 pm

            Ok then, for those a bit slow on the uptake …

            I’ve pointed out many times what a ridiculous piece of propaganda ‘worlds best practice’ is, was, and thanks to your and others industries tarnishing, shall ever be.
            Those that choose to parrot this propaganda, and think they’ve made a valid point, don’t have much credibility, like perhaps zero.
            It’s 2019.
            Our government is unashamedly dictating corporate interest over the majority of voters’ interests, the environment, and the health of the planet we live on.
            Perhaps you should leave the career fern lobbying to Mr Fitch, or get someone else, because he’s not doing a very good job so far.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Receive Our Weekly Tas Roundup

Copyright © Tasmanian Times. Site by Pixel Key

To Top