Rob Smith offers his expertise to advance Tasmania and help the planet at the same time
Posted 19 July 2020
Originally from the UK, Rob Smith has been a Private Forester with PFT for the last 15 years. Bringing his passion for forests and the outdoors to PFT, Rob was in similar roles in Northern New South Wales and before that, across the UK. Combining his extensive knowledge in forestry, his love for nature and eagerness to help farmers and landowners, Rob’s enthusiasm for the message he has around planting trees is encouraging for landowners and the planet.
Growing up in rural and remote properties around the UK, as a young child, Rob sought out adventure in the outdoors. His fondness for nature led him to study forestry at university, receiving a national diploma in forestry and later receiving his Masters in Forest Products Technology. Ever since, Rob’s been in various positions around the UK and Australia, encouraging the planting of trees.
With decades of experience in forestry, fostering and advising the planting of trees on private land, Rob says he’s seen the industry transform, particularly in Tasmania.
“What used to be quite a contentious topic, forestry in now based around innovation. Formerly centred around native harvesting, modern forestry has transformed into a conversation around plantations and how they can be installed and managed for a multitude of benefits,” he says.
“Forestry has gone through its peaks and troughs but what we’re seeing now, especially in the south of Tasmania is a lucrative industry that we just didn’t have before. Thankfully, our industry has hardly been touched by COVID-19 allowing regional parts of Tasmania to keep going. The forestry industry has paid back in dividends over the last ten years and has been essential to the economy in these rural areas.”
As forestry has become an important part of the Southern Tasmanian economy, Rob says it’s more important than ever to be planting trees- anywhere in Tasmania.
“I don’t even know where to begin in sharing the benefits of having trees planted on your farm or private land. Trees are a valuable source of shelter, offer protection of soil and riparian areas, increase biodiversity, improve the landscape and can be a great source of income when harvested. These benefits can be seen across the agricultural industry and for private landowners.”
Connecting with farmers across Tasmania, one common misconception that he’d like to be put to rest is the idea that trees take up the space of productive farming land.
“This idea could not be further from the truth. The pros of having trees on farms greatly outweigh the cons and this has been proven and quantified on a national and international level. Agriculture productivity is greatly increased by having trees in the landscape.”
Rob says the success of having a thriving plantation begins with the landowner taking ownership of the venture, but he says PFT is there to offer guidance and support along the way.
“Each landowner should identify their own unique objectives they’d like to see from planting trees. Growing a plantation is not a ‘one size fits all’ method, but a highly individualised process where different circumstances need to be considered. From topography to climate to soil and available resources, there is so much that needs to be taken into consideration. And that’s where we can come in to help.”
Offering assistance to farms big and small and landowners of all sizes across the state, Rob says one thing is consistent.
“Tasmania is perfect for growing trees. It has everything- a great climate, lots of space and a receptive landowner base. The state has a history rich in forestry and I’m proud to progress it in this modern and sustainable way that’s helping farmers and the planet.”