Woodchipping

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.

Out of Old Growth say East Gippslanders!

Monday, July 1, 2002

Two out of three East Gippsland residents want an end to old growth logging.
This was the sentiment expressed when an opinion poll was carried out in April after the Goolengook camp was raided and the forests logged.

East Gippsland has traditionally been a very conservative region. Politicians have cultivated and pandered to this image for decades. But now this poll destroys the myth that they are merely reflecting community attitudes. The clear majority want an end to old growth logging, and a phasing in of plantations for timber needs.

Money trough refilled

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Just in the last 6-8 months the logging industry has received $800,000, $42.6 million, another $80 million and most recently $9 million has been given over to tart up logging towns that might lose out due to the cut-backs.

East Gippsland's predicament

Monday, May 6, 2002

Using East Gippsland as an example, a reduction in sawlogs does not mean an equal reduction in woodchips - f'rinstance, while there's been a 20% drop in sawn timber (from market forces), the chip volumes have increased 100%! In Tambo forests next door, they've had a 700% increase in chips!  Next year's plans for log volumes will see 20% of logs sold for sawing and 80% for chipping. So a 43% cut on 20% won't make a huge difference. Eleven and a half  thousand hectares are still on the drawing board for obliteration.

Big mess made bigger

Saturday, May 4, 2002

No one could have made a bigger mess of the problem than has just been announced.  Small voluntary cut back over umpteen years, introduce cable logging in steep old growth forests, hand out another huge swag of subsidies to a dying industry, allow unlimited woodchipping to continue, consider large consumers of wood like charcoal plants and biomass burners to be set up when STILL, no one knows how much is out there.

Logging regrowth for chips

Still using flawed figures

Saturday, May 4, 2002

The figures are as flawed as they have been for the past 30 years and this 'solution' is only pushing the problem further down the track. In not too many years, the government might be forced to admit to another stuff-up - too late. In the meantime, they'll be going hammer and tong as ever on the woodchip front.  

Greens and loggers agree

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

When greens and loggers join forces to try and find solutions, keeping away from government and pollies, it shows that there is no confidence in NRE or Bracks to sort out the mess. The one thing we both agree on is that the NRE are an incompetent lot of dills and the logging industry has had its heyday. It's time to look at other futures for the region.

Why value adding isn't the answer

Sunday, January 6, 2002

Would we approve of hunting Panda Bears or Siberian Tigers if their carcasses were used for high value products? No? So it seems strange that there is still a belief that if we could set up a value adding industry, all our problems with logging native forests and old growth would be over.

There is concern that if a large market was found, say overseas, for kiln dried hardwood (paneling or flooring), we could see the continuation of current clearfell logging, with the only difference being that the product would make more profit than woodchips do.

The end of the logging industry as we know it?

Friday, December 28, 2001

The Japanese economic downturn has seen orders for East Gippsland woodchips drop dramatically. The logging industry is now looking perilous. Strong rumours suggest this will be long term and serious. Coupled with this is the planned government cut-backs in log volumes due to past overcutting.

Chip trucks lying idle in Orbost, a blockade of the National Party members office by log trucks, demands for exit packages, stockpiles of chips, markets collapsing - who'd have thought wed see the day.

The environment Sweet RFA

Monday, October 1, 2001

The Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) sprang from the Earth Summit conference in Rio de Janiero in 1992 where Australia signed a ‘Global Statement of Principles on Forests’. The federal and State governments (excepting Tasmania) then signed onto the National Forest Policy Statement six months later. This policy stated that there would be a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system in place by 1995 to protect old growth and wilderness.

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