Leaves Silhouette

2017-18 Annual Report

Private Forests Tasmania’s Annual Report was tabled in Parliament today.  The report highlights the continuing strong role of the private forestry sector within Tasmania’s forest industry, with record private forest harvest levels being achieved this year.  The total log supply to market from the private forest estate was 4.25 million tonnes -  the first time the total private forest harvest has exceeded 4 million tonnes in any one year.

The message from the Chair and CEO of Private Forests Tasmania, which presents highlights from the Annual Report, is provided below for your convenience.  To view the full report please select the PUBLICATIONS> ANNUAL REPORTS tab or CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the link.

Message from the Chair and the Chief Executive Officer

On behalf of the Board of Private Forests Tasmania, we are pleased to present the Annual Report for 2017-18.

Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) continued to provide a wide range of professional advice and services to its stakeholders during the year under the able direction of its acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff Battersby.  PFT continued to build new, and strengthen current relationships with companies and stakeholder groups; and worked with a range of organisations to research, pursue and promote new market opportunities for wood.  PFT also continued initiatives targeting an expansion of the private forest estate; collected valuable data to underpin industry reporting and provided input and advice to government on matters of relevance to the private forestry sector.

The private forest estate continues to underpin further growth in the forest products processing sector with associated benefits in economic growth for regional communities and the State more generally.

At 1,104,000 hectares, the private forest estate comprises approximately 33% of Tasmania’s reported forest area.  The native forest component (841,000 hectares) comprises 25% of the State’s reported native forest area and the plantation component (264,000 hectares) comprises 87% of the State’s reported plantation area.  These metrics emphasise why the private forest estate (across all categories and ownership classes) is such an important asset for the forestry sector in particular and for the general economic, social and environmental well-being of Tasmania as a whole.

In 2017-18, the total private forest harvest rose for the sixth consecutive year eclipsing last year’s record high, increasing a further 9% on last year to supply 4.25 million tonnes of logs to the market.  This is the first time the private forest estate has delivered over 4 million tonnes of logs to market and is nearly four times larger than the low of 2011-12 (1.11 million tonnes).

The dominance of the plantation based sector continued with logs supplied from plantations comprising 97% (4.11 million tonnes) of the total Tasmanian private forest harvest, the highest proportion recorded to date.  Plantation logs have comprised >90% of the Tasmanian private forest harvest since 2012-13 having steadily risen from 15% in 1994-95.  In 2017-18 the plantation harvest comprised 69% hardwood (2.85 million tonnes) and 31% softwood (1.26 million tonnes).

A further modest increase in log supply from hardwood plantations is expected next year.  However, a reduction in the hardwood plantation area of 4,000 ha occurred in 2017-18 and further reductions are likely as second rotations are consolidated around higher performing sites close to markets leaving some uneconomic ex MIS plantations unlikely to be replanted.  While the overall impact on future plantation yield is difficult to predict, given that poorly performing plantation areas will comprise a significant proportion of this un-replanted area, the impact of these sites is anticipated to be relatively minor if productivity improvements in second rotation can be realized.

At 1.26 million tonnes the private softwood harvest level is considered to be within a long term sustainable yield range that is being maintained by replanting of harvested areas.  Minor year to year fluctuations are expected, including the decrease of 17,000 tonnes (1%) in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.

The private estate’s contribution to State forestry production continues to increase.  In 2012-13, through to 2014-15, the contribution had risen to, and remained at, 58%.  During 2015-16 the contribution rose to 67%. In 2016-17 the private forest estate’s contribution increased to 73% and in 2017-18 it further increased to 74%, confirming, once again the estate’s dominance in the market place and its strategic importance to Tasmania’s forest products sector.

A highlight of 2017-18 for PFT was the outcome of the State Government funded Agrivision 2050 Agroforestry Project.  The project was developed with the principle objective of increasing the extent of commercial tree plantings on Tasmanian farms.  PFT partnered with the University of Tasmania in collaboration with CSIRO to implement this keystone project.

Project results demonstrate that the addition of well-planned treed shelter into agricultural areas can significantly increase agricultural production in a manner that more than offsets losses from the area trees occupy.  These gains can be large and were estimated to be 2-3 times the value of timber grown. In the Tasmanian examples, incorporating trees into agricultural landscapes potentially increased farm enterprise profits by up to $3,000 per hectare per year.

PFT has continued to maintain networks and associations with a range of organisations and stakeholder representative groups in order to enhance the services provided to private forest growers.  Along with collaborative activities and projects, PFT has also continued to provide field days and forums to provide information to private growers and assist in connecting growers to market opportunities.

PFT has continued its role in collecting, maintaining and reporting forest resource information.  This data and information is a vital tool in underpinning PFT’s capacity to provide advice and assistance to private forest owners and government, and to assist in research, optimisation and other studies of potential value to the forestry sector as a whole.

PFT’s financial performance has continued to improve recording an operating surplus of $503k reflecting the improving private forestry activity levels and the close monitoring of expenditure.

With the retirement of Tom Fisk in late 2016, Jeff Battersby has been acting Chief Executive Officer for the majority of 2017-18, until Penny Wells was appointed as CEO from 4 June 2018.  We would like to thank Jeff for very capably holding the fort during a challenging year with limited staff and Board resources.

During the year PFT’s Manager Services, Arthur Lyons retired.  Arthur has contributed exceptional services to PFT and its stakeholders throughout his 21 years with the Organisation.  The Board and staff of PFT would like to take this opportunity to thank Arthur for his outstanding dedication and contribution to PFT in performing its roles and functions.

The Board has continued to operate during the year without a full-time Chairperson, and with vacant Director Positions.  In early 2018, one of the vacant positions was filled with Alice Herbon joining the Board in January 2018.  At the end of 2017-18 there remained one vacancy on the Board.  The process of recruitment and associated consultation with grower organisations had commenced by June 2018, culminating with the appointment of Evan Rolley in August 2018 who was also appointed as Chair of the PFT Board.

We would like to thank the Board members and would especially like to acknowledge and thank all PFT staff for their valued contribution, dedication and commitment throughout the year.

Our capacity to report on the character and yield from the private forest estate is totally reliant on the goodwill of forest owners/managers and primary wood processors and we will continue to work hard to maintain trusting relationships with these individuals and organisations.  We take this opportunity to once again thank them for their co-operation.

As new appointees, we see the role of PFT being crucial to assisting the growth and development of the private forest estate.  PFT will play an active role in communicating and pursuing opportunities that benefit private forest owners, the forestry sector generally and Tasmania as a whole.  In doing this we aim to deliver a clear value proposition for private forest levies and other investments.  Our strategic planning for 2018-19 seeks to ensure that the maximum value is delivered from the ongoing government and private financial support PFT receives.