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.

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'.

Is Japan shunning old growth?

Friday, September 2, 2005

After Mitsubishi announced it was considering not buying chips from old growth forests, Nippon (the company that buys East Gippsland's woodchips) announced it was also reviewing its policy on taking old growth woodchips.

Tasmania's logging industry group, FIAT, claims that Mitsubishi had been "influenced by the economic vandalism and treachery of extremist environmental groups".

Old growth = low quality chips

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

This year's approved carnage

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

DSE logging plans from July 2004 to June 2005 show 4,700 ha to be clearfelled in East Gippsland. Much of this is old growth or mature forest. This will supply 149,000 m3 of sawlogs and 385,000 m3 of chip logs.

Consider that a saw log averages 30% recovery (at least 60% is chipped as round edges, hollow bits, knots etc), which increases the pulp ratio to about 9:1 (485,000 chipped to 50,000 sawn).

Gunns trigger happy

Friday, April 1, 2005

Will protests against corporations become illegal?

Twenty Tasmanian campaigners speaking out against Gunns Ltd, the Tasmanian woodchip company, are being sued for almost $6.4 million. They are accused of conspiracy and interference with trade and business.

The 216-page writ was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on 14th January and targets outspoken environmentalists including Peg Putt, Alec Marr, Geoff Law and Bob Brown. EMA Legal will represent Gunns in their challenge to free speech on the environment.

Half of East Gippsland's sawlogs chipped - CSIRO report

Monday, January 3, 2005

The industry that gave us the National Park Logs Swindle now brings us the Residual Logs Rip-off.

Over the past few years, the CSIRO has been checking low grade logs delivered to East Gippsland mills - so called 'residual logs' that nearly all end up as piles of woodchips.

The industry is always whingeing about forests being 'locked up', but now we have clear evidence of a massive waste of good timber by their own grading methods. Current log grading procedures make it very easy for high quality logs to be downgraded and chipped.

Woodchipper's murky mergers

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Just what is going on lately? Woodchippers are hopping into the sack with other sectors of the logging industry all over the country.

Midways, the big export woodchipper near Geelong, is planning to merge with Forest Enterprises Australia (FEA), a plantation company operating out of Tasmania since 1985, which sells whole plantation logs and wood-chips overseas. Are they making sure they have two bob each way if native forests are finally protected or exhausted? FEA has about 40,000 ha of eucalyptus and softwood plantations.