Farm Forestry Field Day Report

November04

Farm Forestry Field Day Report

Farm Forestry Field Day – John Woodley

Bill and Joy Wearn and I went down to the Field Day at John Woodleys on Saturday. Johns place is
completely devoted to farm forestry, with only some strategic grazing happening at this stage. It was
impressive to see what different age trees looked like and the growth rates that can be achieved in
this 800mm rainfall zone. I was in Broken Hill on Friday and I think the Taggerty area was at the
opposite end of the spectrum! They are obviously having a great season so it was nice to see the
green grass and full dams.
We heard Rowan Reid speak about his operation and the work he does – its clear the messaging has
turned away from potential commercial returns as a motivator for planting more forestry to the
other benefits – aesthetic, accessing high value timber markets, biodiversity and offsetting carbon.
These two recognizing that this type of forestry is not about producing commodity timber and that
high value markets are where it is at. Recognising though that the native timber harvesting does
have a sunset (probably from a loss of social license but also as the old growth stock dwindle), then
there may be a time in the future that this changes but no one knows when.
One of Rowan and Johns clients spoke about his forestry journey – a 50 yr old surgeon from
Melbourne with family connections to Euroa, looking to plan a “purposeful” retirement with land
and an enterprise that was profitable (“not a vanity project” ) and his personal need to feel like he is
offsetting his lifetime carbon footprint. He was easily able to negotiate an individual tax ruling to
allow him to gain the tax advantages that were closed by the removal of the MIS schemes. His
overall view that there are a lot of young professionals out there who want to do this and we should
be encouraging people to plant trees. He is convinced his planting with be worth something in the
future and was talking of the need for producer cooperatives to market product. And he is the sort
of bloke that would make it happen!
For me the main take homes were:
– Farm forestry can be an option for shelterbelt type planting in the paddock – the spacing
and pruning regime can allow grass to grow
– Future is not in commodity timber – have to have a vision for marketing in the future for it
to reach its full potential as a source of diverse income and its still early days. Things like
CERES Fair Wood are emerging.
– It’s a long-term project – you have to love trees
– Can create some fantastic landscapes with it. A farm is a home and a workplace so it has to
be a nice place to be.

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