Almost 100 percent of trees logged in the Eden Region following the 2019-20 bushfires were exported as woodchips, according to figures just provided to State Parliament.
During the year 2020, 96% of trees felled were for woodchips with an additional 1.5% for firewood. All the trees ended up at the Eden chipmill.
The figures were provided in answer to a Question on Notice by Greens MP, David Shoebridge.
“These figures raise massive legal, ethical and environmental questions,” according to Harriett Swift, Deputy Convener of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA).
The legal framework under which logging is conducted states that “an operation must not be conducted for the primary purpose of producing low quality logs (including salvage and firewood) and pulplogs.”
The figures provided to the State Parliament do not just represent a single operation, they represent the output of an entire year’s logging operations.
“If there was ever any doubt, these figures show clearly that woodchipping is driving all native forest logging in the Eden Region. Without it, the industry would stop,” she said.
Ms Swift said: “This is probably the highest proportion of pulp logs ever produced since the woodchipping industry began 50 years ago. “
“After the catastrophic bushfires, these forests and any surviving wildlife need a chance to recover, not further destruction for export woodchips, threatening the very survival of the wildlife and the forests themselves, as well as soil and water.”
Logging industry lobbyists have been constantly claiming to the government and the public that it is essential to resume logging in order to supply the construction industry.
“This is nonsense. Forests of this region are being logged with huge taxpayer subsidies for woodchips, pure and simple, and all of those woodchips are exported.
“There is no benefit to the economy or the environment from logging, woodchipping and exporting our forests.” Justin Field has also spoken of the logging of burnt South East forests:
Reviews kept secret, the existence of reviews and reports hidden, even the terms of reference are declared cabinet-in-confidence. This Government has a problem with secrecy, hiding information and hiding behind secret processes. It is particularly bad in natural resources policy - forests, water, marine, land clearing, dams. Secrecy is this Government's solution to mask the internal fights between the Liberals and the Nationals that the Liberals always seem to lose - and so does the environment. But it is not for the Government to judge how the public will use information or how parliamentarians will use that information to inform the public debate. There is supposed to be a presumption that government information is made available to the public. It is in the interests of the good processes of democracy and good decision-making of government for that information to be made public; it is not for bureaucrats or Ministers to decide that they will release it in a time that suits their processes because they do not want the criticism.