New figures from ABARE released in mid August, show a huge glut of existing plantation wood that was previously underestimated.
This is due to vast areas of plantations having been established in the 60s and 70s. By 2006, 75% of timber will be taken from plantations rather than the 62% which was previously forecast.
The Greens and the conservation movement have been saying for the past seven years that there are enough plantations in the ground right now to provide for Australia’s timber (and woodchip) needs, leaving absolutely no excuses for continuing to log native forests.
The ABARE report also shows that wood prices will drop as the glut increases. Other nations around the Pacific Rim such as Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand also have extravagant supplies of plantations wood, which will undermine the potential for Australian exports. What does this mean? Native forest logging is undermining the plantation growers markets. Will the ACCC now investigate State Government subsidies to native forest logging which threaten the viability of plantation forestry?
These new figures were released six weeks after the end of the financial year, when decisions are made on plantation investment. Makes you wonder about the political independence of ABARE and the role of these forecasts in artificially maintaining native forest logging.