Economics of Logging

Government keeps bailing a sinking boat

Friday, September 14, 2007

The native-forest-logging boat is sinking. It's old and leaky but the Government keeps burning out bilge pumps trying to keep it afloat. Yet another costly pump is about to be installed.

An Industry Transition Taskforce (ITT) Mark 4, will be established to try to help logging workers deal with the 'challenges' they face.

The Minister for Agriculture Joe Helper visited a Gippsland mill in late July and flung around the promise of even more money to prop up this failing industry.

FOI victory in NSW

Thursday, September 6, 2007

For years, NSW conservationists have been fighting to find out the price Forests NSW gets for the logs that are woodchipped and shipped to Japan. After a long battle to obtain these figures under Freedom of Information, Gerry Watt, a Tilba conservationist, scored a victory in early September.

VicForests - cutting forests, costs and corners

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It'll save money to get rid of 20 foresters... and hire another 5 spin doctorsAfter three years as the new semi-corporate arm of the government logging agency, VicForests was going down the economic gurgler.

For the first two years after its creation, VicForests was given an easy run with DSE picking up the tab for many costs, but year three was to see it 'off the dole' and making a profit. To balance their books we saw Vic-Forests planning to cut corners and costs. Unfortunately, this also meant cutting their obligations to look after public lands.

VicForests oversees the logging of public forests and is meant to make a profit. In the past, forest agencies (of various names) have relied on hand-outs to operate. Now VicForests' plans to reduce overheads to stay in business could cost the environment dearly.

Auctioning sawlogs brings in some revenue, especially now it asks for a half-decent price for them. But sawmills aren't needing as many logs these days as there is decreasing demand for hardwood timber. However, thousands of tonnes of smoke-damaged ash forests were being knocked down as 'salvage' at ten times the normal rate. Solid logs were split to sell as woodchip fodder at a reduced price. Despite this 'fire sale', the bills were still mounting.

If you go down to buy wood today you're in for a big surprise

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Timber yards just don't bother stocking hardwood timber any more. Why?

It is because no one wants to buy hardwood timber. There are no uses for native forest hardwoods which pine and other plantation products cannot replace, and at a lower price.

Many sawmills that cut native forest logs are teetering on the brink of receivership. The industry is collapsing quickly. Here are some examples:

Saw-miller sore over prices

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Bob Humphries, owner of the big Cann River sawmill, is sore over new prices for logs and wants the government to reduce royalty prices to below cost price . He says demand for native forest timber is falling and they can't get as much for sawn timber any more. After decades of receiving welfare in the form of cheap resources and industry assistance it must be hard to get back into the world of commercial realism.

He complained that VicForests, which is supposed to look at commercial aspects, has gone and 'lifted the price of logs on a downward spiralling market'.

A spanner in the woodchip works

Saturday, August 6, 2005

What we see going on with Tasmanian woodchips could well set the scene for the rest of us battling to save our forests.

When a 10% drop in orders for Tasmanian woodchips was announced, green groups were blamed. The reduction and subsequent job losses are squarely the result of green groups telling lies to overseas buyers, according to Forestry Tasmania anyway.

Aussie dollar gums glut

One logging worker = a $65,714 'dole'

Saturday, July 2, 2005

In 2005, the old Black Forest Timber mill at Woodend and the CRC for Wood Innovations were given $1.1 m from the then Premier Steve Bracks to set up a 'pilot program for rapid shaping of wooden components for furniture'. Is there really such a huge demand for coffee tables with legs shaped out of one piece of wood that we need to give another million to the industry to investigate it? We hear the mill also scored another million-dollar-plus grant earlier in the year for some other wood microwave project.