Forest experts say no benefit from a Great Forest National Park

Victorian activists are loudly beating the drum about the survival of the enchanting  Leadbeater’s Possum being solely dependent upon declaration of their proposed Great Forest National Park.

The activists have an enticing website, make lots of noise in the media and have attracted lots of supporters.

This is an important public policy matter.

Scientists aren’t savvy marketers or communicators and their voice is barely audible in the media. Kurrumbene looked into the views of expert scientists who know the forests and the ecosystem. The Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) appears to have made a detailed examination of the issues involved, coming from a scientific angle. The conclusions made can be summed up as – activists have gilded the lily in their effort to convince the Victorian government to adopt their park idea as 2018 election policy.

The IFA is the highly respected 80-year-old professional body for qualified foresters (including forest ecologists) in Australia. Find out what the IFA has to say HERE. Victorian readers – why not share this with your local MPs, council members and local media and ensure they are well-informed ahead of the election.

A further problem is that the Park proposal plays no heed to the huge community suffering that would impact every person and family associated with the sustainable production of timber in that region. The activists vision would see the industry shutdown and the human suffering has been seen time and time again in former timber regions when businesses are forced to close, jobs shutdown and families face financial and emotional trauma. Many blue collar workers never work again – that is devastating.

Activists ignore the suffering of those people further away in Gippsland and Melbourne too, who would lose their jobs processing, manufacturing, delivering, marketing, retailing and installing products from the Australian grown timber. They also ignore the fact that every indigenous tree harvested is regenerated (at law) and that legal timber production is not a zero-sum game – trees are all regrown – the cycle goes on and the carbon grown in each tree continues to be stored forever in the products made.

They also ignore that Australian families love Australia’s own indigenous timbers (adapted perfectly to our harsh climate) and want to use sustainable, renewable timber in their homes, decks, offices, schools, sports arenas and other public buildings.

Given the proposal comes from people who take pride in prioritising the environment above all else, it’s passing strange that they totally ignore a terrible outcome:-  ceasing  local timber harvesting will cause the equivalent amount of timber to be imported from Asian forests to our north. Those production systems are mostly inferior (i.e. not environmentally sustainable) to Australia’s. It would in fact be a poorer environmental outcome in a global sense to be shipping in more of that, burning more fuel to get it here and filling Australian homes with that product. Australia is already a net importer of timber and should never adopt policies that boost demand for unsustainably produced timber in poorer countries with poorer workplace safety and wages.

The Great Forest National Park is not a well considered policy and will not deliver good outcomes. It should not be supported.



Cape York forest tour

One of the privileged few to travel on the memorable three day southern Cape York tour, after the Institute of Foresters’ of Australia 2017 Cairns conference, I’m sharing a snapshot through the link to a 3 min video

We saw areas of country that are not accessible to the public because our hosts Daryl Killin and partner Lou Vanrikxoort have a trusted association with the Hope Vale aboriginal community, whom they work with, north east of Cooktown.

Daryl is a forest expert working with the aboriginal community to reinstate management of the land as their ancestors had for tens of thousands of years. The technique is cool burning of savannah lands to preserve and indeed encourage biodiversity. Cool burning burns the undergrowth not the canopy and protects against ruinous wild fire in the dry season.

Wild fire there, as everywhere, creates carnage for plants, animals, humans and waterways. These dramatically impact the ecosystem. The sheer magnitude, frequency and breadth of storm activity in that northern Australia Cape York climate ignites wildfire on a similar scale. You will have put two and two together that this is very much a carbon story – wild fires every year release into the atmosphere millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions. The savannah burns are a technique to reduce carbon emissions.

Innovation is in Daryl and Lou’s DNA – their firm Native Conifers Carbon Sink Pty Ltd, was the first carbon sink registered in Australia in 2012, under the Emissions Reduction Fund’s Permanent Environmental Plantings method

New FSC certification

Great to hear that Timberlink’s Australian South Australian and Tasmanian sawmilling operations are now certified by FSC for solid timber. CEO Ian Tyson noted the increasing demand for certified timber which is encouraging as certification provides assurance that the timber production process meets triple bottom line criteria – environmental, social and economic.

Clyde Agriculture

Kurrumbene’s principal Helen Murray was the Commercial Manager for 10 years with the Swire Group’s privately owned Clyde Agriculture. In that time the company acquired it’s outstanding portfolio of rural properties in NSW and Qld, which were all operated by company personnel.

It grew to be Australia’s largest wool grower, fifth largest cotton grower and a substantial beef and dryland grain producer. The company’s ethos was very much akin to a family company – with a focus on people, doing things well and being there for the long haul.  The people links keeping going on and many former Clyde staff occupy roles in agribusiness.  A little detail can be seen at

Some years later the entire portfolio was sold off over a period of years after Swire’s decided to exit primary production.


Innovation Award

Award night HMM with PMThe highlight of 2017 for Helen Murray, principal of Kurrumbene, was receiving the Forestry Industry Innovation in Training Award for the Young Community Ambassadors’ Initiative on behalf of Timber Communities Australia (TCA), when she was providing national coordinator services to TCA.

Helen created the concept and designed and delivered the initiative for this respected national network of timber communities. Some fine young future leaders within regional timber communities from four states graduated after completion of the Initiative.

The Award was presented at a Gala Industry Dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House Canberra which was attended by the Prime Minister and Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, who is responsible for and a great supporter of forestry and timber products. The night, attended by 500 people, celebrated the innovators in the industry across safety, business and training and it was hosted by the Australian Forest Products Association.

Chicago grain trip

Great memories of a visit to Illinois on a grain project. Visiting the Chicago Board Of Trade where much of the international grain pricing is driven… lovely architecture too. CBOT building in the background.