Logging cut-back – con job

Don’t be deluded, the latest logging ‘cut-backs’ are little more than a huge spin-doctoring excercise. It’s business-as-usual for the big boys with a few small players out of the show. Not one tree will be saved. Their slight reduction in the small end of the industry doesn’t mean a reduction in area, it’s just a slight reduction in the time it will take to obliterate our forests. There’s a few hidden nasties in there too.

The government did a neat job at turning a disaster plan for forests into ‘green win’ that many people swallowed. Even people in the conservation movement were conned. Here’s what we got – 1) new plans to cable log to ³process previously … steep terrain timber², 2) the cute term ‘advanced harvesting’ where they log more now to log less later (?!), 3)  a sawlog only reduction (43% in East Gippsland – no change in the Tambo) with no reduction in woodchipping or area logged.

Add to this the call for a charcoal plant to offset jobs lost in cutting up trees to burning them, as well as a medly of mindless calls to log more reserves, and things look the same as ever. It will slow down the small end of the problem in possibly a few years time (too late for the Wombat forests even at their 80% cut-back), but the big culprit, woodchipping, remains untouched. In fact, both Daishowa and Midways have publicly stated they won’t be effected at all. And why should they? Sawlogging has never driven woodchipping, despite the worn out claims to the contrary.

To help all this along Bracks hands over another $80 million to ease a few blokes to get out and boost those that are left.

Slow acting outcome – in line with markets

The government plan is to ask log license holders to volunteer to sell their licences back, no one will be forced to cut back – and they have three years to think about it.

The average cut-back on sawlogs is 30% across the state. So consider that at best, about 20% of what is hacked down in forests is sawlog and the rest woodchips and waste, then that reduction only means about a 7% drop in volume … maybe in umpteen years down the track. This is less than the sawlog market is naturally declining anyway simply due to hardwood timber losing ground to pine for building.

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