Forestry industry behind 76pc woodchip export jump, ‘not Tasmanian Government’, Greens say

Tasmania’s forestry industry, and not the State Government, can claim credit for a significant jump in woodchip exports over the past 12 months, the Opposition and the Greens have said.

The industry is emerging from years of turmoil and decline, with new operators like Forico taking over woodchip mills closed when timber giant Gunns collapsed.

Forico is a subsidiary of investment management company New Forests.

Tasmanian woodchip exports have increased by 76 per cent in the past year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Exports have grown to $43 million a year, a $19 million increase.

Acting Premier Jeremy Rockliff said it was a reflection on growing business confidence since the Liberal government was elected.

“It represents a lot of confidence in the wood industry,” he said.

“It’s my view that with a government that is very committed to growing the forest industry that is actually happening, confidence is returning and markets are improving which is terrific.”

He said it was clear the Government valued the industry and that was why markets were returning.

“We came with a clear plan to rip the job-destroying Labor-Green forest deal,” he said.

Forico identified as industry driver

Greens Environment Spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said that was laughable.

“Actually its the complete opposite,” she said.

“Its a disgrace that the Government’s taking credit for the hard work of the private forestry sector.

“This has all got to do with Forico and the fact that they have now got Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC).

“All of that 76 per cent as far as we can tell has come from private companies trying to do the right thing and have a sustainable wood supply.”

The Opposition has also taken issue with the Government’s assertion.

“Well its just a complete load of rubbish,” he said.

“The fact is that its the private sector through the plantations and the low Australian dollar that has led to the upswing in the sales of woodchip.”

He agreed the key to Forico’s success had been the FSC.

“That’s why the forestry agreement as an integral part of it had FSC at the heart of it,” he said.

“So good on them, but I think it’s a bit rich of the Government to claim that tearing up the forest agreement had anything to do with wood sales.”

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