So what are woodchips?

Woodchips are the result of sending tree trunks up a conveyor belt into a gigantic shredder (that takes only 7 seconds to devour an entire log). Trees are quickly transformed into chips half the size of a matchbox, and are what is used to make paper for products like throw away drink cups in Japan or Reflex paper here in Oz. 

Woodchips, pulp and sawdust accounts for at least 91% of all products to come from our native forests. Yet we are told by VicForests that classic porkie that logging is all for the sawn timber for nice tables and chairs and the woodchips are just the waste. Sure. They say what a shame it is to leave it all laying on the ground. Well, if they hadn’t cut all those trees down to start with there’d have been no waste to have to ‘clean up’.

To add to this crime, the government have sold these logs for between 9c and $5 a tonne. If you or I wanted to go cut a trailer load of firewood for ourselves, they’d charge us $20! It seems that the Japanese buyers have an especially cosy deal. Nippon owns both the Reflex paper factory in the Latrobe Valley and the Eden export woodchip mill. Both have been responsible for systematically annihilating the Central Highland’s Mountain Ash forests and East Gippsland’s mixed forests for years.

Higher woodchip export prices in Australia, but Japan still hungry for them

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In 2008, the price of our native forest woodchips was more expensive than last year. Because of a shortage of wood supply from around the Pacific Rim and an increased demand in Japan, the mountain of chips sailing to Japan annually looks set to increase. However, the global economic turmoil could throw a spanner in many of these seemingly safe markets.

Russian tariffs affect Aussie forests

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The main pulp/paper producing region in Europe is Scandinavia, and up to a third of the raw wood used to make paper there has come from Russia. Since 2006, Russia has increased the export tax on its raw log exports to €15 per cubic meter from €2.50. But on January 1st, this tax is set to rise to €50, equal to about $300 per ton of pulp or paper produced. Such an increase will further add to the US logging industry’s cost advantage (and possibly Australia’s).

Pulpmill backer backs out

Friday, May 23, 2008

In May 2008, ANZ told Gunns it won’t be funding its $2 billion pulp mill in northern Tasmania. ANZ has been Gunns' main banker for 22 years but was facing a volcanic reaction from customers and shareholders if it helped get the mill built. This announcement was quite a body blow, but Gunns grimaced and said there were plenty of other financiers just itching to throw money at their project. Macquarie Bank was reportedly considering involvement.

The fire economy

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quoll - save me from politiciansBy May 2004, the Victorian Government had funded the clearfelling of forests burnt in the 2003 fires to the tune of $6.9 million.

Another $4 million was given to help the woodchip industry continue its access the following year.

Then in 2007 we taxpayers gave at least $868,000 to help the industry clearfell the 2006 fire-damaged forests.


Friday, December 14, 2007

The headline in the Sunday Age in early December 2007 was 'How to turn $99 million worth of trees into a $17,000 loss'. VicForests was exposed as incompetent economic managers of our public forests. Even with a state government gift of tens of millions of dollars to get it set up, it's still not profitable to cut down native forests.

A new era has begun. We have the combined trilogy of; 1) serious climate shift, 2) plantation wood in abundance and 3) a logging industry that continues to rely on public welfare to make a profit.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

if Forestry NSW survives in the red, then so can weForestry NSW is looking at how to counteract the effects of 'red oxide' in wood, just in case it's ever injected into woodchip trees. Apparently it renders wood useless for chipping and paper-making. Who would do such a silly thing?