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Branchline July 29, 2011


Looking to the future

It has been another action packed week, starting last Sunday with the signing of a Heads of Agreement between the Prime Minister and Premier Lara Giddings to start putting into effect the forestry Statement of Principles that had been negotiated by environmental groups, unions and sections of the timber industry. The Heads of Agreement <view agreement> will lead to an Intergovernmental Agreement, which will see further areas of Tasmania's native forest locked up and some cash for contractors and employees hurt by the commercial decision of our major customer Gunns to exit native forests.

There is no question Gunns decision, the Global Financial Crisis and the collapse of MIS plantations has cost Tasmania a lot of jobs, and continues to cause hurt in the community <view Schirmer report>. It's little wonder that a television commercial we are currently running on the importance of native forests to the economy has struck a chord with the community <view commercial>.

However, we need to remember that these are short term problems. There is a long term that we need to plan for. It might surprise some to learn that this week Forestry Tasmania asked its contractors to ramp back up to full capacity. We are finding customers for pulp wood in China and we expect over the next month to be loading at least one and possibly two export shipments. This should ease some of the pressure on sawmillers, who have been struggling to find an outlet for their residues. I do want to make the point that there is still a strong market for Tasmanian timber products, both here at home and overseas. In particular, there are emerging and growing markets for laminated veneer lumber and woodchips for rayon and biomass. We are in the process of producing a plan for the future and we would be interested in your feedback on our draft. <view here>

As part of planning for the future, a review into Forestry Tasmania is underway. Consultants appointed by the government met the FT board and senior management to begin the process of examining how the loss of resource, the Intergovernmental Agreement and market conditions might impact on FT and to then recommend the best structure to deal with those impacts. It is expected the review will take some months to complete. In the meantime, with the agreement of government, FT will continue to operate on a business as usual basis.

In partnership with Southern Cross television, our Community Assist Program will continue even in these difficult times. Community Assist provides support for individuals and groups who want to make a difference within their communities. Applications for funding will be open throughout August. <read more>

As the weather is starting to improve and spring is now only weeks away, FT has some great ideas on how to get out into Tassie's state forests to enjoy the spectacular sights or enjoy a weekend BBQ with the family and friends. There are many great things about our state forests including that access is free, you can take your dog, mountain bike or even a horse. As part of International Year of the Forests, bursary student Shannon Banks reviewed our 52 Places to Visit on state forest, take a few minutes to visit Shannon's blog on our website and grab some great ideas for a day trip or state based holiday. <read more>

Today marks National Tree Day for schools, and as usual seedlings grown at our nursery at Perth will be making their way to schools across the state. In fact, we are donating around 12,000 seedlings this year. Over the past five years more than 45,000 trees have been donated by FT, helping students to learn about and care for the environment, as well as being an important carbon store. Amanda from St Cuthbert's School collected her school's seedlings from FT yesterday. <read more>

These sorts of community activities are the main reason why Forestry Tasmania has such a good reputation in the community. We have been tracking how the community perceives FT since August 2008, and I have to say that given all the trouble we have been through, our brand is still very strong. <read more>

Until next time,

Bob Gordon

Managing Director
Forestry Tasmania



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