Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The forestry assault

By Mike Bolan - posted Tuesday, 22 June 2010

If someone wanted to damage you, your property, your lifestyle, your future and/or your business how would you feel about it if they also expected you to pay them to cause the damage?

Unenthusiastic? Hostile?

That’s basically why so many Tasmanians oppose forestry as it’s conducted here.


Overall it seems that the shift of focus of Tasmania’s timber industry from valued timbers to wood chips has fuelled a range of dysfunctional results, including huge losses to the industry involving multiple bankruptcies (e.g. Great Southern, TimberCorp, FEA) and lost profits for Gunns. The ongoing efforts to shoehorn the idea of turning trees into their lowest common denominator of fibre, has corrupted our political system and threatens a massive community revolt.

The forestry story has previously been focused on environmental objections versus forestry interests that decry objections as “green” (and therefore presumably irrelevant). Without paid representatives and professional media spokespeople, the stories of communities and ordinary individuals have been swamped by paid spinmeisters.

I will try to tell the story simply - complex and extensive though it is - and to go beyond the name calling, accusations and assumptions of entitlement that are usually contained in forestry’s self-interested narrative.

The island …

… of Tasmania is about 63,000 sq km much of which is inaccessible. Overall, it offers one of the few remaining places on the planet where some natural wilderness still exists along with low population densities that promise rural lifestyles that could be enjoyed in peace and tranquillity.

Because there are still some natural forest areas that remain beautiful and offer peace and tranquillity, the island offers the opportunity for relaxed lifestyles, intimate relations with nature and innovative industries (for example, self sustaining retirement centres) except for …

The forest industry

… which dominates Tasmania’s landscape, resources, infrastructures and governments and enjoys multiple exemptions from the laws that apply to, and protect, the rest of us; that judges public grievances against it and finds itself blameless; that depletes the landscape and our water catchments at our expense; and that constantly expects more money and more resources from us in order to feed global fibre markets and line the pockets of a few.


Astute readers will note that trying to compete in a global low margin/high volume commodities market from a small island with relatively high costs was always a very dubious proposition. It seems to fit a 19th century “big is good” mentality but doesn’t fit Tasmania.

The only way that forestry has been able to maintain any semblance of profitability is via generous subsidies and exemptions from laws coupled with low or no cost resources and other forms of public assistance. Forestry describes their heavily subsidised state as “sustainable”.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

25 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Mike Bolan is an independent complex systems and business consultant. Mike worked for the Tamar valley community and others to prepare materials for the RPDC in which he spent about a year visiting Tasmanian communities, businesses and individuals to learn the impacts of forestry operations and the implications of a pulp mill on them. The lessons learned from that period are still relevant today and are used in this story, which is told to inform not to gain income.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Mike Bolan

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 25 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy