Australasia's home for timber news and information

PFT promotes agroforestry in Tasmania direct to landowners

Penny Wells

Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) took a proactive approach to promoting agroforestry and the Tasmanian private forestry sector with a forum Market Opportunities for the Northern Tasmania Private Forest Sector which was held on 3 July 2019. Source: Timberbiz

Penny Wells, CEO for PFT opened the event in front of the 75 attendees that came from a variety of backgrounds including politicians, farmers, foresters, landowners, forestry companies and timber processors.

The Hon Guy Barnett, a very busy man as the Tasmanian Minister for Resources, Minister for Primary Industries and Water, and Minister for Energy and Veteran’s Affairs attended and spoke about the huge increase in forestry production since 2013 saying the private sector was responsible for the majority of this upswing.

“We had strong representation from forestry companies on our panels and in the audience,” Dr Martin Moroni, Manager of Resource Development for PFT said. “I do know some landowners had business opportunities arise from the meeting including discussions with companies about log sales and also discussions on carbon markets.”

The event was held as two panel sessions; the first Opportunities in the Current Buoyant Market consisted of Darren Herd from Forico, Heath Blair of Reliance Forest Fibre, Stephen Rymer of PF Olsen, Phil Lloyd of Timberlink and Paul Heubner from Pentarch Forestry. Each discussed briefly where they saw opportunities.

From there the discussion turned to the reasons behind the recent price drop for export hardwood logs bringing in talk on the influences from Japan, Malaysia and China. Though the consensus was that the market will improve within the next three to six months due to increased demand for wood locally and internationally.

“The market for timber has increased significantly, even with the downturn in some markets, prices remain higher than they were some years ago,” Dr Moroni said. “We wanted to let private landowners know of market opportunities and give them the potential to realise it by selling their wood into the market if it was appropriate for them.”

Joint ventures and similar arrangements were discussed as a possible way to support the establishment of new trees.

“There were a number of companies present at this event who indicated a willingness to enter into joint ventures,” Dr Moroni said. “There are several companies in Tasmania that would be willing to enter into joint ventures right now.”

Land owners interested in exploring joint ventures that share the costs of establishing trees and the returns from harvesting trees with a forestry company are encouraged to contact PFT to explore this opportunity.

A short intermission allowed for further and more tailored discussions between attendees before the second panel convened for a discussion of New Market Opportunities. This panel consisted of Andrew Exton from Koppers Wood Products, Andrew Wye of Partiarch & Sons and Wood Based Products, Chris Skeels-Piggins of CLTP Tasmania and Dr Moroni for PFT.

Dr Moroni discussed the results of PFT’s collaboration with CSIRO and the University of Tasmania that investigated the agricultural production and financial gains from treed shelterbelts on farms. This collaboration showed that there was an increase in agricultural yields despite the trees occupying land space, it also showed reduced evaporation and efficient water use.

Once questions were open to the audience a number of topics came up for discussion and resulted in an update of the CLTP Tasmania and Patriach & Sons processing facilities’ progress. CLTP has chosen to use Eucalyptus nitens for CLT products and its first panel should be produced before the end of July. Following that is six months of testing with the panels hitting the market in early 2020.

A proposed Patriarch & Sons mill at Bell Bay will accept a combination of E. nitens and natural forest logs.

“We also wanted to let the market know of some of the upcoming investments like the CLT plant,” Dr Moroni said. “Landowners were asking questions about how to manage their forests, asking questions about carbon credits, which I covered in my presentation.

“A lot of the questions that came from the forum were around what trees should I plant, how should I manage them, should I thin, should I prune, what will be the future market for them, how do get involved in a joint venture or how do I get support to plant some trees.”

Forest certification was underlined as a vital part of the industry with smaller growers able to gain certification through several forest management companies or by developing a group certification scheme model. Template paperwork to support group certification with Responsible Wood is available from PFT.

“This event highlighted the opportunity for another event focussing on getting new trees in the ground by linking private land owners to support in the market for establishing trees,” Dr Moroni said.

“This event focussed on landowners who had trees in the ground, providing them with an understanding of the market for those trees.”