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Craftsmen lament Tasmanian peace deal
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Craftsmen from Tasmania's speciality timbers industry say the forest peace deal announcement could be the death knell for their sector. They say an artificial and inadequate ceiling on timber production is not backed by research and $70 million's worth of economic activity and more than 2000 jobs are at stake. Source: The Mercury
The figure of 12,500 cubic metres of timber has repeatedly been quoted as being enough for the state's renowned fine furniture, home construction, flooring, woodcraft, boatbuilding, musical instruments and joinery, but nobody is able to identify how the figure was established.
It is a significant reduction on the 22,390 cubic metres cut in 1999-2000 and the 13,800 cubic metres in 2006-07.
Craig Howard of Heritage Furniture said he was finding it hard to find timber even before the deal.
"Tasmania's world-renowned for what we do with our fine timbers," he said. "If the Government doesn't let us have the amount we need – without rape and pillage, it has to be fair – the whole industry will be stuffed."
The bulk of the special species timbers cut under the expected quota will be blackwood, accounting for 10,000 cubic metres. Just 500 cubic metres each of the highly sought after silver wattle, myrtle, sassafras and celery top pine will be the remainder. Much is exported.
Kettering boat-builder Andrew Denman said despite repeated requests and lobbying, he was concerned a decision would soon be made without a proper understanding of demand for the resource.
"People come to us because we build boats with the best timbers in the world," he said.
Primary Industries Minster Bryan Green is confident the industry will be looked after.
"The speciality timbers market from the Tasmanian perspective is effectively an iconic industry and we want to continue to support craftspeople who make ... from that particular material," he said.