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.
The Govt have been forced to admit there had been major stuff-ups in the past, that’s at least something, but their solution is a new look disaster plan for forests which is worryingly similar to the Tasmanian government’s “woodchips-R-us” direction.
Again – the hype about crumbling towns and people starving in the gutter is deliberate industry hyperbole. There will be some people out of work – as there has been when any industry rationalises, but the numbers are blown out of all proportion, especially in relation to the public money the industry is demanding ($80 million is not enough they say).
High value forests targeted
The low yielding forests used to give as low as only 1m3 /ha (2 truck loads to 40 ha) because they had a market for the chips from these areas. The chip market has become fussier lately about quality, as overseas plantations are offering huge volumes of good cheap stuff. So the NRE have had to reassess their inclusion of all these low yielding ‘crappy’ forests. These areas will now be taken out of the equation and instead it will mean our forest managers will be targeting the higher volume/quality/valuable forests for sawlogs! Less waste y’see. These high quality forests also happen to be high conservation value areas like rainforests and the tall wet old growth.