The momentous announcement by Tasmania’s logging giant Gunns, to move out of all native forests should have a major impact on Victoria’s and Gippsland’s logging future.
“Just as the woodchip industry is suffering its biggest downturn in decades, just as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of endangered wildlife protection over logging, Victoria’s largest sawmiller, Gunns, has decided to shift out of native forests and into plantation logging”, said Jill Redwood from EEG.
Environment East Gippsland is now asking the Victorian Brumby Government to also move with the times and transition the state’s industry into the security of Victoria’s mature plantations.
“Purpose grown trees on private land are ready to go now and can supply 99% of all woodchips and timber needs”, said Ms Redwood “There is no reason to be clearfelling thousands of hectares of mature and old growth forests any longer. If Gunns can step into the 21st Century, so can the rest.”
“There are estimated to be less than 100 direct local jobs in East Gippsland logging industry now. Mills are struggling, orders are slow, and the demand for export woodchips is in rapid decline.
“Gunns has listened to the moral arguments, their shareholders, the public and the needs of their customers. If Mr Brumby still wants to fight public opinion, Victoria will look incredibly backwards.”
“The time is perfect for the long overdue shift into plantations and other less destructive uses of forests such as nature based tourism, water production and as the world’s greatest carbon stores. Mr Brumby can offer assistance to smaller players to exit with dignity”.
Gunns CEO Greg L’Strange said ‘the debate over logging native forests had been lost’ – ‘conflict must end’.
“We didn’t prop up whaling for sake of a few jobs. Clearfelling native forests is unethical, unpopular, uneconomic, very likely to be illegal, plus it creates 1/5th of Australia greenhouse pollution every year.”
“What’s makes it even worse is that 80% goes to woodchips. The woodchip market is down almost 20% on last year, and profits have been in free fall decline for years. There’s a glut of woodchips globally and there’s sluggish demand from Asian buyers.
“There’s no future in export chips and demand for sawn hardwood is very minimal and slow. Plantations dominate all wood products. Brumby should now stop fighting public opinion and let this dinosaur of an industry disappear into history. Annihilating the planets old growth forest for a dying uneconomic and destructive industry is no longer excusable”, said Ms Redwood.