Where it all began...
In the 1980s and 90s we all applauded when governments across Australia began to lock up rainforests and disallow logging. A number of farmers responded to this by beginning to explore the idea of planting rainforest species for both economic and environmental purposes.
The government got behind this and there were a number of initiatives to assist farm foresters in establishing rainforest timber cabinet species.
Small groups formed for mutual support including Community Rainforest Reforestation Program (CRRP 1993 - 2000) in north Queensland, Subtropical Farm Forestry Association (SFFA) in northern NSW and more recently the Specialty Timber Growers (STG) in south-east Queensland.
Why a Collaboration?
In 2016 Carol Neal, the founder of STG, contacted Martin Novak from SFFA about collaborating to pursue the need to manage our rainforest stands in a more sustainable way, by supporting growers to take some of their product to market.
Mixed species woodlots were at a point where fast growing trees were dominating. Without selective thinning, the stands were locked up, suppressing the slow growing species. The result is poor productivity and no further contribution to climate change abatement. The answer is to create returns for the grower from a commercial selective thinning of the faster growing species, such as Quandong.
At a Field Day, held at Joe Harvey-Jones' property in northern NSW, with a focus on "Harvest to Market and Potential Carbon Offsets", the decision was made to work together to address this issue. Shortly after, we put in an application to the Farming Together Federal Government program based at Southern Cross University. This grant application was successful and gave us the funding we needed to formalise our relationship and led to the creation of Quality Timber Traders (QTT).
QTT Joint Venture
Thanks to support from the Farming Together Federal Government program, prior to our being funded, we were allotted a management consultant to guide us through the process of decision-making, around what form our collaboration would take. Each of the two groups is proud of it's history and achievements and wish to retain their own autonomy. It was decided, therefore, to form a Joint Venture, which may lead to a co-operative organisation in the future.
QTT Vision & Mission
QTT’s vision is for a progressive farm forestry industry in our regions, delivering environmental returns including carbon capture, soil improvement and ecosystem restoration. An important focus is on generating financial returns from sustainable selective harvesting, significant enough to attract grower investment into the future.
Our mission is to provide marketing and sales assistance to growers, with the aim of setting the highest possible premium price on our high quality timber products.
This will underpin our longer term strategy – to provide a guaranteed stream of timber to specialty markets with a wider range of species being marketed in the future. Species availability will become clearer to us as we quantify the resources available from our grower members.
Specialty Timber Growers Inc. (STG)
In 2012, she had brought small-scale growers together to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (Australia) certification for the timber so that market acceptability could be obtained.
Since then, the group’s purpose has been to collectively build capacity among group members and improve the marketing power of the specialty timbers, which are sustainability harvested from rainforest species in plantations.
With the support of Darryl Collins, who ran a speciality timber trading business for many years, STG has successfully harvested, processed and achieved sales of timber from member plantations. Darryl has set up a sophisticated processing and milling operation on his sizeable plantation.
Subtropical Farm Forestry Association inc. (SFFA)
SFFA was founded in 1993 following a regional Farm Forestry conference held in Dorroughby in northern NSW. From day one, Martin Novak has led the organisation to where it is today. During the early years, SFFA oversaw tree planting funded by the National Farm Forestry program, a Federal Government initiative. With more recent government funding, SFFA has continued to support members to grow planted mixed species forests for biodiversity, carbon and timber values;-
- Forest Links (2010 - 2012 $346,000 +in-kind)
- Biodiversity and Carbon Project (2011 - 2017 $2,237,000 +in-kind)
If all contributing members are taken into account, over 400 growers have been involved with SFFA over the years. Part of the key to success of the SFFA has been its strong links to Southern Cross University's Forest Research Centre.
SCUFRC has had a long and successful relationship with the SFFA and its members. The knowledge base of issues around rainforest cabinet timber plantings in the Northern Rivers region and beyond has greatly benefitted grower members of the SFFA. The Research Centre has shown strong support for QTT, and has agreed to provide knowledge support to the harvesting, processing and marketing objectives.
In return for a substantial portion of the Farming Together grant, they have researched timber properties to verify the product growers will offer in the future. We need to demonstrate that the timber we offer to the market is fit for purpose and of high quality.
QTT was given a generous grant of $200,000 from the Federal Government. This covered the period from August 2017 to April 2018. In addition, we committed to raising cash contributions from members, as well as significant in-kind contributions.
Quality Timber Traders Joint Venture gratefully acknowledges the financial and other support it has received from The Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program (Farming Together Program) which is supported by a $14,934,000 (inclusive of GST) grant auspiced to Southern Cross University to administer the program by the Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.