Tasmanian Times

Economy

Milne: Is Forestry Tasmania in China selling forests at a loss? Brown: World Heritage deception

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• Christine Milne: Is Forestry Tasmania in China selling forests at a loss?

Following a report last week that the only market for Tasmanian woodchips is China, but that the Chinese market will only be accessible at rock-bottom prices, Forestry Tasmania needs to explain why it is seeking yet another failed, debt-ridden deal.

“Is it true that Forestry Tasmania is now in China offering woodchips from Tasmania’s native forests at US $170 per tonne delivered?” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, asked.

“It is understood that the break-even price for woodchips is AU$150 at the wharf, so Forestry Tasmania must come clean on whether the price being discussed is US $170 delivered, in which case it cannot possibly make a profit.

“Is Forestry Tasmania in China trying to set up a deal for Minister Bryan Green to sign when he gets to China on his trade mission?

“Both Forestry Tasmania and Minister Green owe Tasmanians an explanation as to why they think it is acceptable to sell off our magnificent forests at a loss.

“Premier Giddings, Minister Green and Forestry Tasmania are tearing up the Inter-Governmental Agreement which has at its heart no new contracts and forest protection.”

• Bob Brown: Government misleads World Heritage Committee on Tasmanian logging

The Australian Government has lodged a report with the World Heritage Committee that misrepresents the extent of logging in forest surrounding the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today.

“The Australian Government is putting forward a submission to an international committee that essentially does not tell the truth about what is happening in Tasmania’s forests,” Senator Brown said.

In the report to the committee the government claims in relation to the Tasmanian forests intergovernmental agreement: Under the terms of the Agreement, significant iconic areas adjacent to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area will be given interim protection from logging activities, including the Upper Florentine, and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys, while an independent verification process to assess the values of these areas and available timber reserves is undertaken.

“There are some 18 coupes totalling over 800ha that are being logged, have been logged or are due for logging in the areas the government claims have been protected,” Senator Brown said.

“Some of these coupes are within just 1km of the World Heritage Area, which contrasts with the picture the government paints of a secure shield buffering the area from the impacts of logging.

“I have written today to the World Heritage Committee outlining exactly what is happening in Tasmania’s forests, including the list of coupes.

“I expect the Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to formally explain to the committee his error in the report,” Senator Brown said.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Barnaby Drake

    February 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

    In South Africa, virtually all sawmills have a charcoal kiln on site and their waste goes directly into this as it is created. The results are sold and bagged bar-b-que fuel or crushed and added to fertilisers as biochar. It is a thriving industry and pays far more than woodchips.

    A little entrepreneurship may not go amiss in Tasmania!

  2. Robin Halton

    February 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

    #10 Many sawmills in the past burnt their waste in on site incinerators. In this day and age all sawmill by product should be utilised and not wasted.
    What do you mean “one assumes more than a crashing loss”? It is commendable that Britton Bros sell to McCains so that sawdust and mill edgings are utilised for raising energy, isnt it!
    A big wake up call awaits us! By law all forest by product should be utilised as a source of energy.
    The chipwood export market has dried up, about time we accepted an alternative use now not after thousands of tonnes remains stockpiled or wasting away in the bush creating a medium term fire hazard and financial loss.

  3. phill Parsons

    February 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Britton Bros, Smithton has found a solution for its sawmilll waste and woodchips, selling them to McCains for fuel, one assumes at more than a crashing loss. Perhaps the answer to the sawmill waste problem lies in more self reliance.

  4. Karl Stevens

    February 7, 2012 at 12:38 am

    mpd 3. Thanks for the industry link. Pity the story you linked to is from last year. Interesting that Sodra is making pulp from textiles. Not looking good for ‘1st World’ pulp mills. Just like iron and steel, bureaucracy and taxation-laden Australia is off the radar. The high Aussie dollar is locked-in for years they recon.

  5. Pete Godfrey

    February 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Christine Milne doesn’t seem to understand the the most important thing to politicians is getting re elected.
    Most will do and say anything to get elected again. As many of them are totally unemployable in any area the retaining of their seat in the big sandstone sheltered workshop is paramount.
    Selling of the State of Tasmania to the lowest bidder is a small price to pay to have these people kept in one place where we can keep an eye on them.

  6. Simon Warriner

    February 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    re 4, Mark, your use of the word when gives rise to the possibility of competence. When?

  7. Robin Halton

    February 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I would doubt if Bryan will be successful on his trade mission selling Tasmanian grown native forest woodchips to China. The Aust $ is soaring. Plenty of lower priced faster growing plantation based chipwood closer to China is now available.
    It would make better sense for the Hydro triad to absorb logging and sawmill residues by incineration to produce electricity.
    On the mainland I believe that Hazelwood coal fired power station in the La Trobe Valley is burning the residues now that the mainland export woodchip market is drying up.
    Lab-Libs had better start doing something locally insted of messing about with a 2nd Bass Link.

  8. mpd

    February 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    http://www.pulpapernews.com/2011/12/chinas-import-of-wood-chips-grows-as-pulp-production-expands

    Perhaps it is not the spot price of woodchips that is important, but the price trend?

  9. John Powell

    February 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Coupe BA388D is not within one kilometre of a World Heritage Area. It directly abuts the Liffey Falls WHA along both the southern and eastern sides = a conjoined contact distance of some 1.25 kilometres.

    All of Dr Snowden, The FT CEO, the Minister, the Premier, and Minister Burke are aware of this fact.

    So who will own up first?????

  10. john hayward

    February 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Fortunately for many involved, FT’s reported continuing losses do no include loss of environmental services, catchment destruction, air and water pollution, damage to tourism and transport infrastructure, and various other debits.

    While paying nothing for their resource, FT has still managed losses of only $9m p.a. the past two years, enough to retain the undying support of the LibLabs, who presumably are doing better.

    John Hayward

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