Released in December 2013, the report into VicForests operations (the government’s logging monopoly), condemns its lack of protection of environmental values but excuses the drain it puts on the state’s finances. There’s no market for woodchips so trees are incinerated where they are felled. So why are they cut down?
Among many other shocking findings, the report shows that logging forests is criminally wasteful and no longer viable, especially so in East Gippsland.
The Auditor General’s report also notes that DEPI and VicForests still have limited ability to protect or even assess threatened wildlife in logging areas (p.34-36).
VicForests is burning 16% of the trees they log statewide, because they can’t sell the low-value logs, even for chips(p.46).
East Gippsland’s forests have been over-logged and mills guaranteed quality sawlogs that aren’t there, so taxpayers are now paying the costs to truck good logs from the Central Highlands to East Gippsland.(p.47)
But most of Victoria’s low quality woodchip logs ended up sitting in log dumps with no buyer.(p.46.) It begs the question – why were they cut down in the first place?
The overseas market for woodchips to foreign paper factories – the main product from logging in East Gippsland, has suffered a significant collapse in the last couple of years. With no likelihood of recovery, the industry will continue to hemorrhage and cost the public millions before it self-destructs. The crime is that endangered wildlife and thousands of hectares of natural untouched forests will be obliterated before this happens.