Nov 19, 2012

Data crunch: how many (con) jobs are there in Tassie forestry?

The war over Tasmania's forests is painted as jobs vs trees. But how many jobs are there really in the state's forestry sector? Andrew Macintosh from the ANU and Richard Denniss from The Australia Institute investigate.

According to Rene Hidding, Tasmania’s Liberal spokesman for forestry, it is “insulting” to Tasmanians to inform them about the tiny contribution the forestry and logging industries make to that state’s employment. Presumably he thinks it would be better to deceive the people?

For all of the analysis about what the collapse of the state’s forest talks means politically, there has been very little discussion about what its demise means for the Tasmanian economy. Maybe it’s because the answer is so simple; the logging industry is virtually irrelevant to the state’s economy.

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11 thoughts on “Data crunch: how many (con) jobs are there in Tassie forestry?

  1. ulysses butterfly

    With the megafire impact on Victoria related to 50 years of conversion of wet schlerophyll to dry schlerophyll forest over huge areas of landscape, it would be criminally negligent to log any more wet forest in Tasmania, NSW or anywhere.

  2. Harry1951

    It’s astonishing that there is ignorance of the minor contribution of the Tasmanian forestry industry. Old perceptions die hard I can only conclude. It would appear that a “back to the drawing board” is needed by the Tasmanian Government. I don’t envy their task.

  3. dazza

    0.5% of Tasmanian workers seem very very vocal, and now these loudmouths have been caught out, at long last. How dare they put their own interests in front of the interests of the rest of the population not only in Tasmania, but Australians in general.
    Media also have a lot to answer for, especially when the editor of the ‘Australian’ has declared war on the Green Party, and consistently shows total disregard to scientific reviews/observations for a reason no one knows. Maybe it’s because the media is self regulated, therefore who’s going to ask!!

  4. Microseris

    UB, conversion of forests is probably more wet to damp however it is not just about key indicator species of each vegetation community. Age, complexity, edge effect and high water requirements of regrowth forests have a major impact on humidity and therefore flammability.

    Old growth mountain ash forests of Tarra Bulga National Park were showered with ember rain for several hours on Black Saturday and whilst there were several small spot fires, none established and the park did not burn. Compare this to the devastation of the central highlands where estimates of remnant old growth stands approximate 1%.

  5. Yorick Piper

    This is a highly missleading article. The bulk of ‘forestry’ industry jobs are in milling and processing. These workers are at the heart of the debate in tasmania, in sawmills, peeler mills, even wood chipping facilities. And if a pulp mill ever gets up there will be another 1500+ jobs there. To ignore these jobs when discussing this debate is very poor journalism at the least.

  6. michael crook

    good article,thank you. It is a bit like the very very few jobs on the mainland in mining and coal seam gas. we dont need either of these industries as the net benefit is very definitely a negative.

  7. NT

    This story has been running in a number of publications for a week or so now. Well done Crickey for regurgitating misleading figures and counting jobs in only part of the supply chain for Tasmanian timber products. A more comprehensive analysis of this issue can be found at:

  8. Nigel Catchlove

    The real numbers as recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics rather than an interpretation by a former adviser to Bob Brown.

  9. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Yorick Piper, you make a claim that the “…bulk of ‘forestry’ industry jobs are in milling and processing.” Do you have any evidence to back this claim? The article indicated that direct employment in forestry and logging (which seems to include truck drivers) was currently somewhere under 1000. Exactly how many people do you believe are employed in “milling and processing”?

  10. Nigel Catchlove

    I’ll answer Hugh McColl’s question. Wood Product Manufacturing 1771, Pulp, Paper and Converted Paper Product Manufacturing, 476 and Total Tasmanian forest industry employment 3410 (excluding employment in craftwood, furniture making and boat building dependent on special species timbers)
    Data source: ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011 as per article at:

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