OPINION: Tasmanian forest industry vital to economy

Nick Steel – Without certain industries during this pandemic more people would be without a job and Tasmania would be further in debt.

Forestry is one industry that has continued to provide direct and indirect jobs.

During my short time in the industry, I have found it to be a proud industry that through adversity continues to harvest, grow, and process trees for the many products and benefits that come with wood.

You will see Tasmanian timber from sustainably managed native forests on the floors of the basketball stadiums and adorning the walls, staircases and ceilings of our finest tourist buildings.

You will see it as solid timber and decorative veneer in the form of cabinetry, joinery and claddings in hotels, conference centres and Parliament House. Plantations are used for framing that holds up your house and are used for fibre in paper and cardboard.

Many businesses rely on the sawdust and chip residues to power their enterprise. Without locally produced wood residues to power these plants, their only option is conversion to gas or coal. Tasmania’s forestry operations produce responsibly sourced wood that is both renewable and sustainable. Once harvested the forests are regrown, reflecting the ultimate renewable status of wood, and providing a resource for future generations. As Planet Ark states: “Responsibly sourced wood products [are] part of the solution to climate change”.

As forests grow, they remove CO2 from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. When the wood is harvested and used to make wood products, the carbon remains locked in the wood for life.

About 50 per cent of the dry weight of wood is carbon, which means that by using more responsibly sourced wood in our built environment in place of more carbon-intensive materials such as steel or concrete, we can reduce carbon emissions and store it through this renewable resource.

Tasmanians can be proud that our forests are sustainably managed with some of the most stringent environmental protections.

The industry remains committed to maintaining these standards that help thousands of Tasmanians, which injects more than $1.2 billion into our economy.

We are all still feeling the effects of this pandemic, however, you can rest assured that Tasmanians are working in our forests, driving on our roads, in offices, in sawmills or in laboratories getting on with their job nurturing, managing, harvesting and growing our forest industry.

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