Forestry Tasmania’s total cash losses were $454m over 20 years, with a write-down of $751m in value of forest estate …
First published March 29
The first Tasmanian regional forest agreement, signed between the state and the commonwealth in 1997, was supposed to start an era in which forestry was both ecologically and economically sustainable.
In fact the last 20 years have been a financial disaster for forest management in Tasmania.
According to my calculations, Forestry Tasmania’s total operating cash losses over the 20 years from 1997-2017 are $454m.
The annual reports of Forestry Tasmania from 1997 to 2017 (if you can understand what the accounts don’t say) and the 2008 report of the Tasmanian auditor general, reveal that the regional forest agreement (RFA) has comprehensively failed to deliver on its “economically sustainable” promise.
Yet the state government continues to see things differently. Tasmania’s resources minister, Guy Barnett, says he believed the existing RFA had allowed the industry to operate “responsibly and competitively” and support jobs as well as having “significant environmental outcomes”.
The early RFA years were profitable – underpinned by a massive boom in industrial logging and the export of low-value woodchips – but cash operating surpluses have persistently declined since 2004. The past 10 years reveal substantial and ongoing deficits, with income not covering all operating costs …