Balancing the Backend Planting with Front End Demand

Simon Talbot, General Manager – Tasmania Forestry Hub

There have been some big announcements this week in Tasmanian with the Federal Government supporting $86 million investment in growing our plantation estates.

At the same time we also received some significant reports (both local and international) on the demand side for timber products. Fascinatingly, one of the largest audits of 500 leading architects by ThinkWood yielded the following opinions:

Tasmania’s own demand study (currently being finalised by the Tasmanian Forestry Hub and Indufor) found similar alignments.

However for me there are three key takeaways– all if which are being actively discussed in Tasmania:

  1. The trees to supply this future demand need to be right species, right location and right treatment. It can’t just be mass trees in ground.
  1. We are in somewhat of a ‘no-man’s land’ with our current plantation mix being able to support all the ‘built environment timber needs’ and we also can’t wait 15-25 years for the next cycle of planting – the solution is innovation and investment of what we already have.
  1. And lastly we ought not be overly consumed by the bright shining ‘new stuff ‘. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the strongest supporter for more value add and getting Tasmania’s export mix reshaped – but we must also maintain a highly competitive log and fibre export sector and maintain social license.

It’s a bit like the old beef farming analogy, ‘Anyone can sell a steak (primal cut), but if you can’t make money on the other half of the animal (mince and sausages) you’re in trouble’.