Economic Benefits

The economic and social benefit of the special timbers sector is demonstrated by significant output, participation, centres and events.

In 2009 it was identified that the industry employed over 2,000 people along its value chain, (Source: A review of the Tasmanian Woodcraft Sector for The Woodcraft Guild & Forestry Tasmania, 2009)  while a further 8,500 participated in woodcraft activity as a hobby or on a limited commercial level.  This participation rate was some 37% higher than the national average participation.

The combination of knowledge and skills included within the industry, combined with the significant marketing by individual enterprises that leads to the strong value add makes a strong contribution to Tasmania’s economy.

Modelling utilising the “Furniture and Other Wood Production”, sectors within the ANZSIC code structure (excluding boat building and thus providing a conservative estimate of the industry) indicates that these two categories contribute approximately $700m in output to the Tasmanian economy, over $270m in value add and 2,900 jobs. (derived creating Preferred Futures, REMPLAN Economy, Type 2 Multiplier).  While this contribution is not solely based on special timbers, the special timbers are a significant input and as identified above central to their market position.

Special timbers also makes a significant contribution to Tasmania’s rapidly growing tourism economy. According to the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, the bi-annual Australian Wooden Boat Festival is the largest tourism event on the Tasmanian tourism calendar.  This event, which sees over 200,000 local, interstate and international people visit the festival over four days, provides a direct injection to the state’s economy of $30 million and an indirect injection of a further $80 million.

The Industry Structure

The Special Timbers Industry comprises a range of traditional trades, the designer/makers and the woodcraft sectors. The trades sector is made up of furniture production, joinery and boat building.  Designer/makers focus on bespoke individual items and some production.  Woodcraft groups include woodturning, giftware, bowls, boxes and instrument makers.

The sector is the major, local, commercial user of Tasmania’s Special Timbers.  A significant proportion of milled timber is exported from Tasmania.

The average value of purchases made by enterprises within the sector was identified in 2009 and is represented in the graph below.

(Source: A review of the Tasmanian Woodcraft Sector for The Woodcraft Guild & Forestry Tasmania, 2009)

This graph highlights the relatively larger scale of the of the furniture and joinery sectors within the industry.

The relative expenditure across the industry on the different key species is represented in the following chart.

(Source: A review of the Tasmanian Woodcraft Sector for The Woodcraft Guild & Forestry Tasmania, 2009)

This chart indicates that Sassafras and Blackwood account for more than 50% of the special timber purchased by the industry in Tasmania.

The Value Add

During the industry consultation associated with the 2009 report, discussion with Makers identified the following final sale value added relationships through a combination of design, craftsmanship and marketing:

  • Production Furniture  – timber valued at $800 is transformed into a $2400 Shelving unit;
  • Designer Maker – timber valued at $2500 is transformed into a $20,000 Table & Chairs setting for 8 people; $800 flitch transformed into a $28,000 table.
  • Small Products – timber valued at $13.50 is transformed into a $225 Pepper Grinder;
  • Boatbuilding  – CTP/Huon Pine  timber valued at $30,000 to $40,000 is transformed into a $350, 000 Boat;
  • Musical Instruments –  timber valued at $200 is transformed into a $3000 Guitar; and
  • Scrap timber is transformed into 100 timber pens with a retail value of $2,495.

The effort to further develop the range and volume of such products is worthwhile.

This difference between mass and niche, higher value markets becomes stark in terms of the final value of the object.  However when the ratio of timber to value is considered, the Pepper Grinders represents the highest overall value add ratio.

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