An important issue at the upcoming election will be how Tasmania can continue to support and grow its vital forestry industry.
Tasmania is fortunate to enjoy both a sustainable native forestry industry and a diverse plantation timber sector.
As an industry we are utilising the resources and land available to produce a multi-mix forest industry that balances market demand and the sustainability of the industry for the long term.
Recent talk of a transition to a “plantation only” model is unrealistic and misses critical points. Why should the industry focus on just one product and ignore a sensible “whole of market” approach? And why are the broader benefits such as carbon storage, economic activity and societal benefits being ignored in this argument?
Plantation timber is a significant part of the Tasmanian timber industry, with more than 80% of Tasmania’s timber products sourced from plantation timber. These renewable plantations ensure a consistent supply of high-quality softwood and hardwood for applications such as framing timber for the building industry, to building that pergola and deck in the backyard, and for use as for fibre in paper and cardboard products.
In contrast, the mature hardwoods and the special species timbers that Tasmania is famous for are harvested from managed native forests. These forests produce high-quality flooring, joinery products, architectural timbers for restaurant, retail and office fit outs, high quality furniture and specialty veneers.
Superior quality, high value and high demand products being produced from sustainable forest practices.
History tells us that if these products are not sourced and manufactured from our own natural forests then they will be imported from regions where environmental and social outcomes are very poor compared to the high levels of compliance and accreditation that we have in Tasmania.
In addition, the Tasmanian timber industry plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions, and the scientific evidence to back this up is significant. Native forestry and plantation forestry are carbon positive industries, industries that should be embraced and expanded as part of Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy.
The forest industry has grown and improved dramatically over the past decades to become an important part of the solution with forest managers holding sustainability certification to internationally recognised standards and with traceability of wood products from the forest floor through to the end product for accountability.
Managed forests in Tasmania also deliver many social benefits, in addition to marketable timber outputs. These non-market benefits include space for recreational activities such as mountain biking and bushwalking whilst at the same time protecting biodiversity, cultural artefacts and sites of significance.
Forestry also provides many highly skilled jobs and much needed economic activity in rural and regional economies.
We have a long and proud history of outstanding forest practices in Tasmania and it’s time to take a fresh look at our modern and sustainable industry, we produce world class timber products, we contribute to our standard of living and we deliver sensible, science based environmental outcomes.
This is why we will be asking all political parties for their support to grow our strong domestic forest and timber industry.
Nick Steel is the CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association.
Media & Public Relations Manager, Tasmanian Forest Products Association.
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