With exception of family and friends I have two other strong passions which most people know about.  One is Melbourne Storm, for that winning feeling and two is the timber industry, as I’ve grown up with sawdust in the boots.

Luckily, this weekend Melbourne showed me it still has it beating the Bronco’s, but the timber industry is testing my passion as it is for many fabricators in the country.

FTMA Australia has proudly been part of the timber supply chain but lately we have been wondering if the manufacturing supply chain is where we belong as our members continue to fight for timber resource.

In November 2017 we held forums and were told that the importers would make up the shortfall of resource and within three months we should be back on track.  Here we are, six months later and I still can’t get a uniformed answer on the timber shortage and this uncertainty results in fabricators looking at alternative building materials.

Last month we saw Australia hit record export levels for softwood logs with a whopping 5 million m3 per year being sent off shore.  When do we stop exporting softwood logs and begin processing “some” of these logs for the Australian market? I do not believe we can’t produce suitable timber to be used in construction. When businesses are struggling to secure their timber needs, affecting Australian jobs them something needs to be done.

Let’s look at it from a fabricators view point. They are visited by various timber representatives, all telling their story on the timber shortage.  The only problem is the ‘story’ varies depending on who is telling it.

For years I have told fabricators that their competitor is not the timber fabricator around the corner, but those that compete against our fabricators using steel and concrete.  Fabricators have come a long way in networking and recognising who their true competitors are, but I can’t say the same for the timber industry.

Australian Forest Products Association have their softwood chamber and they are all working together to address the shortage at an Australian level and John Halkett of the Australian Timber Importers Federation is also working hard to identify more wood to come to Australia.  AFPA & ATIF work well on many issues such as illegal logging so why can’t they work together to communicate the future timber supply levels to give a little certainty to our fabricators.

I know in talking to our Preferred Timber Suppliers that they are all doing what they can individually.  No one is sitting on their hands with this issue and there is massive investment and planning currently happening within the individual businesses, but we need to know the ‘whole’ story not a piece by piece story.

It is time for the timber associations to come together and not only address the future supply problems but to communicate it with one voice as that is what our competitors are doing. We simply need a time frame, a time frame which the fabricators can use to map their own future, as if they don’t get certainty from one source, they will chase it from another.

If, by the time of the next FTMA News, we can’t get a full picture painted for you, we will follow up with all our Preferred Timber Suppliers and get you an answer from them all compiled in to one fact sheet. The preference though is for a united timber message about the future of timber supply in Australia, so fingers crossed!

There’s a lot of passion in me, but not for steel to replace beautiful natural wood as I am a true conservationist and want our products to continue to store carbon for life.