Graph of the Day: Is Tasmania’s forestry industry really worth it?

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Tasmanians have been led to believe forestry is one of their state’s major industries. The statistics paint a different picture.

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When Tony Abbott restated his commitment to strip World Heritage listing from 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest – declaring that too much of it was already “locked up” in national parks – he was reinforcing the commonly held myth that forestry is one of the state’s major industries; a tree-lined avenue of untapped economic growth.

“We have quite enough national parks, we have quite enough locked-up forests already,” the PM said in a speech to the ForestWorks dinner in Canberra on Tuesday night. “In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked-up forest.”

But a new infographic from The Australia Institute challenges this view, illustrating the fact the forestry industry is really a very small part of the Tasmanian economy, generating just over 1,200 jobs – or less than 0.5 per cent of total employment in the state – and, perhaps, not worthy of the huge taxpayer funded subsidies it has been promised.


“Forestry and forest product manufacturing accounts for approximately two per cent of GSP, roughly half of which is attributable to native forestry,” said the TAI in a report published in December – Chipping away at Tasmania’s future: Alternatives to subsidising the forestry industry.

The paper, written by Andrew MacIntosh, argues that the ongoing emphasis on forestry by politicians like Tony Abbott “is misplaced and counterproductive, economically, socially and environmentally.”

“With conditions in the forestry sector likely to remain depressed, at least in the short- to medium- term, there is a need for policy makers to broaden the strategic options for Tasmania,” he writes.

“Part of this shift should include a staged wind-down of native forest harvesting, coupled with the use of the native forest estate to generate carbon credits. The revenue from the carbon credits could then be used to help diversify the Tasmanian economy and build a more resilient community.”

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  1. JohnRD 6 years ago

    If it is OK to to spend billions of dollars subsidizing the fossil carbon industry what is wrong with a lousy $100m given to the Tas forestry industry?

  2. Terry J Wall 6 years ago

    Ah ha but yer mate J D Rockefeller doesn’t own the Tassie forest does he!

  3. Colin Nicholson 6 years ago

    Doesn’t this contradict the “green army” ? If too much forestry is already locked away, why pay people to plant even more?

  4. Renier Nel 6 years ago

    One consequence of continual decrease in the rate of global photosynthesis oxygen production, is accelerated weakening of earth’s radiation energy shield and the sun-wind shield.

  5. Sean 6 years ago

    $20k per person per year? perhaps they would be better off finding a different industry

  6. Kevin O'Dea 6 years ago

    Tony Abbott’s crusade to reinvigorate the forestry wars in Tasmania is not about economics at all, it is a personal ideological obsession which he shares with his old mate Senator Eric Abetz (Tasmania) who has been a major player in these wars for many years. They are great believers in the power of market economics to sort out all the problems of the world.

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