Trees grown on farmland provide a range of benefits and values to landowners and the community. Well planned tree plantings can increase farm profits by improving crop and animal growth and providing additional income from wood sales. Trees on farms also provide environmental and social benefits that often extend beyond farm boundaries. Private Forests Tasmania, in collaboration with CSIRO and the University of Tasmania, leads an Agroforestry program that will demonstrate the benefits of trees in Tasmanian agricultural landscapes. It is hoped that this will inspire private landowners to realise the benefits of Agroforestry.
Tasmania has an ideal climate and the skills base needed to sustainably grow trees commercially on farms. Trees can contribute to the traditional sawn timber and pulp wood markets, however the range of products derived from wood is now proliferating and many experts are predicting that the world is entering the ‘bio-economy’ era, with wood one of the more important feedstocks.
As well as engineered wood, a lot of the products and services we now get from fossil fuel are likely to be derived from renewable sources such as wood in the future.
We must continue to look ahead. Trees are a long rotation crop and what we plant today is for an industry 15 to 30 years out from now. Forestry can and should, therefore, remain an important part of Tasmania’s economy and the planting of commercial tree species on farms, carefully and sensitively integrated into the farms overall management plan (agroforestry), is one of the few remaining ways to significantly increase the State’s commercial forest resource.
As well as improving farm income through improved farm output and revenues for harvested wood, trees improve aesthetics and provide environmental outcomes. The shelter provided by trees provides significant benefits for livestock and crops. Unfortunately, the planting of commercial woodlots and shelterbelts by farmers is not currently a universal practice in Tasmania, notwithstanding these benefits. Apart from a small and passionate group of farm forestry devotees, it is not a well-established ‘matter of course’ activity for Tasmanian farmers to plant shelter belts and blocks – in fact, many fail to recognise the opportunity trees represent mainly through lacking access to credible information and experience of the benefits.
Private Forests Tasmania now has a focus on clearly demonstrating the benefits and providing solid science based information to encourage more farmers to plant commercial trees in shelter belts and small blocks to add value to their farming business while creating future resource for industry.
The benefits of Agroforestry are well documented elsewhere.
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