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Australian forest industry « Previous | |Next »
March 21, 2012

Tasmania is still caught up in the conflict over logging native forests for export woodchip, even though Gunns is on its last legs, half of Australia's chip exports now are plantation-based, and the native forest industry is on life support through government subsidy.

Lyndon Schneiders in The Age reminds us that it was in the 1960s and '70s that export wood chipping of native forests became entrenched:

Export wood chipping was portrayed to sceptical Australians as a sensible way of finding a market for those parts of a logged tree that could not be processed by a sawmill. But within a few years wood chipping became the only economic reason for logging native forests. By the 1990s, millions of tonnes per year of native forest woodchips were exported as sawmills quietly closed across the country. Now, with changing market expectations, the world has lost its taste for woodchips from Australia's ancient forests.

Demand has dropped and the native forest industry is dying. Without considerable government input the forestry industry could not survive.The time is opportune for governments in Australia to shift virtually all of the wood production out of native forests and into the plantation area.

Judith Ajani says that commodity wood production becoming a part of agriculture would allow native forests are valued primarily for their contribution to biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and water conservation. She argues that the forestry industry:

should be a plantation-based industry. That’s where the industry is actually heading to. I mean it’s struggled, of course, to get there, but it is getting there. And if we overlay the plantation resource with a processing [industry] policy which we all know has got the wealth and the jobs, and much more in the processing levels than exporting raw materials. Then we have got the potential to have a very vibrant and very prosperous and jobs-rich forestry industry.

I'm not sure what has happened to the ‘peace deal’ between the forestry industry and the environmental groups over 430,000 hectares of old growth native forest in Tasmania.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:28 AM | | Comments (4)


The Tasmanian forests agreement aims to provide more than a quarter of a billion dollars in finance to restructure Tasmania’s ailing forest industry. The agreement reserves large areas of high conservation value forests in national parks in return for financial compensation, continued logging in state forest, and “a” pulp mill.

It is hanging by a thread.

They'd still do over what's left of native forests, out of sheer spite.
They could have had their pulp mill decades ago, but were not prepare to use plantation timber rather than old growth, or allow siting and enviro protection legislation because they might have to spend a couple of bob on these,they wanted their cake and eat it.

Why does everyone keep saying that the native forest wood poroducts market are dead. This is just not the case for viable and sustainable sawmill industry. Infact the demand for dry timber products from old growth products is in high demand as people still want apearence grade flooring, furniture and skirting and archs from stable quality trees, not unstable soft plantation hardwood. We need to go back pre 1960s when native forest was all selectively logged. This biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and water conservation tact green groups push is very very dangeriouse as we need to keep selectively logging to mininise bush fires as well as maintain economic wealth in rural comunities.

Jonh says:
" we need to... maintain economic wealth in rural comunities (sic)."

Surely that can be done with plantations in which wood production is a part of agriculture.