Analysis of Forestry Corporation figures obtained by the office of David Shoebridge show the profit from native forest logging in 2019/20 was a just $28.03 a hectare. Over the last five years native logging profits have declined from a high of $225.85 in 2016/17 to a fraction of that. This means an average profit of less than 20 cents for each mature tree logged.
After the fires, everything changed and communities across NSW are asking the Government to protect their local forests and chart a path out of industrial logging of native forests.
New report renews calls for native forest logging moratorium: 30% hit to timber supply from Black Summer fires
Independent NSW MP, Justin Field, has called on the NSW Government to immediately halt destructive post-fire logging and urgently review of logging rules after new analysis shows the Black Summer fires has reduced timber resources within the NSW state forests by as much as 30%
An internal review conducted by NSW Forestry Corporation has found the Black Summer bushfires resulted in high-quality timber yields from NSW State Forests being dramatically reduced, particularly on the NSW South Coast.
The existence of the 2019–20 Wildfires NSW Coastal Hardwood Forests Sustainable Yield Review was revealed under questioning in budget estimates earlier this month by Independent NSW MLC Justin Field. (See Budget Estimates Transcript p38)
The findings will put yet more economic pressure on Forestry Corporation who have already forecasted approximately $50 million in losses over the next four years. Forestry Corporation is also engaged in wood supply agreement renegotiations with a significant number due to expire in 2023.
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field said, “This yield review shows that logging under pre-fire rules is totally unsustainable. I’m calling for an immediate moratorium on logging in public native forest in NSW, particularly on the badly burnt South Coast.
“The Government has already commissioned a review by the NSW Natural Resources Commission of logging rules in light of the devastating impact of the fires. That should be allowed to be completed before any new logging is considered in NSW public native forests.
“The EPA has been warning that logging without additional protections to address environmental risks as a result of the fires risks the environmental sustainability of the forests and potentially would be a breach of the law by NSW Forestry Corporation. This yield review provides yet more evidence to support the EPAs position.
“This review also shows that huge volumes of timber have been downgraded from high quality saw logs to low quality timber only useful for pulp. The suggestion is that future logging will be focussed on the low value wood chip and pulp industry which is totally unacceptable. These forests are now, more than ever, worth far more standing as critical habitat, recreational reserves and carbon stores than as wood chips for pulp,” Mr Field said.
Mr Field also raised questions about the efficacy of the yield review.
“It is inexplicable how Forestry Corporation arrived at just a 4% loss of high quality timber supply on the North Coast when 50% of those forests were burned, with a significant portion burnt to the highest level of severity,” Mr Field said.
“Let’s be clear, Forestry Corporation has a conflict of interest in conducting this work. They have a direct financial interest in trying to under-estimate the impact of the fires to maximise the harvesting allowed.
The Government-appointed reviewer acknowledged that limited field work was conducted to verify the assumptions in the analysis and warned that that “statistical support for these assumptions will not be available until repeated field measurements are safe and practical“
Mr Field said, “I’m concerned that this review represents a best case analysis and under-estimates impacts, particularly on the North Coast. By pushing to continue logging under pre-fire rules, as Forestry Corporation is now doing, there is a risk that the logging pressure far exceeds the capacity of the forests and it will have a devastating impact on forest recovery into the future.
“This makes the independent review by the Natural Resources Commission review to provide independent verification of these findings all the more important.
“It is critical that a moratorium on logging in public native forests be put in place until such time as the Natural Resources Commission review is completed,” Mr Field said.
You can read the previous 2018 Sustainable Yield Review here.