Forestry and tourism in Tasmania are now and always have been intrinsically linked and complementary to each other. Tasmanian timber has been the centrepiece of the state’s unique and very marketable identity for decades.
Surely the hypocrisy of the Tasmanian Greens and a handful of tourism operators latest claim, that Tasmanian forestry is damaging the Tasmanian brand, is not lost on the public.
From the famous, soaring, wave-like celery top pine ceiling in the award winning Saffire Freycinet to the beautiful aroma of Tasmanian specialty timbers through Salamanca Market Tasmanian timber is and always has been a tourism showpiece.
I challenge anyone to find a Tasmanian tourist attractions or icon that does not use or showcase Tasmanian Timbers, portraying a natural Tasmanian brand and using this point of difference to market their business.
Simply look at the stunning Tasmanian Oak Veneer adorning the new Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. Or Pump House Point where (and I quote direct from their web site) “common spaces subtly give way to more refined Tasmanian timber veneer panelling.” “Material and product selection is subtle in its response to environmental stewardship with natural materials favoured where possible”.
What could be better than local timber? Imports from Indonesia? Perhaps plastic cladding from China? I have never seen plaster or concrete feature on a tourism icon’s web site as a point of difference.
Wall in the Wilderness, The Abt Railway, Three Capes Huts, Derby’s Floating Sauna, more hotels, wineries, cafes and restaurants than I could even mention showcase Tasmanian timber.
Then there are our distilleries, art galleries, museums, university, airports, football and basketball stadiums, all adorned with Tasmanian timber.
Our tourism businesses don’t just use timber, they drape themselves in Tasmanian timber and then yell it from the rooftops to promote what we have.
This latest claim is not just wrong, it’s damaging to the tourism businesses who choose to showcase these timbers as part of their brand.
The Greens and some in tourism want to stop harvesting in our diversified mixed forests and instead limit the choice to single species plantation timbers or imported timber only. Try promoting that on your web site.
This hypocrisy and political opportunism must stop.
The people in our industry who produce these timber products know that the forest practices undertaken in Tasmania today are world leading and that our plantation forests are well managed and our public native production forests will remain as native forests forever.
Sometimes managed forests will grow close to bike tracks or other attractions, just as some bike tracks might grow close to managed forests, but rest assured that forestry in Tasmania has no intention of destroying the livelihood of anyone operating tourist operations, in fact, we want to continue our close association to strengthen a Tasmanian brand based on natural and sustainable local products.
Lastly, congratulations to all the winners of the recent Tasmanian Tourism Awards who were lucky enough to take home a trophy made from Tasmanian myrtle, a beautiful and sustainable Tasmanian specialty timber worthy of representing the highest honour.
Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association