Wednesday 23 July 2014


The recent announcement by Primary Industries Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, that NSW taxpayers will pay Boral $8.55 million to buy back 50,000 cubic metres of timber allocations annually for the next nine years, is final confirmation by the Government of what conservationists have been warning them for a decade, that current logging is unsustainable.

The decision has been welcomed by some as a move that will see positive outcomes for forest health. However, the reality is that Forests Corp, formerly Forests NSW, has been unable to fulfil contracts for over a decade, saddling NSW taxpayers with a compensation bill for millions of dollars. Between 2004 and 2012 that timber supply shortfall amounted to an average of 40,400m³ of high quality saw logs annually. So buying back 50,000m³ will only see a reduction in logging rates of about 9,600m³ annually, meaning the carnage will continue.

The original plan, as outlined in the 1999 Regional Forest Agreements, was for a 20 year timber supply agreement, with a dramatic cut in native forest logging post 2020, and plantations taking over much of the supply. Forests NSW inability to fill contracts saw the end date extended to 2023. However, the worst part of this deal is, as Minister Hodgkinson's media release explains, the timber quota reduction will allow logging of native forests to continue indefinitely beyond 2023.

This latest $8.55 million payment to Boral comes on top of $11 million compensation paid to millers since 2000. As well as this latest payment, Boral received $2.78 million for an earlier buy-back; $550,000 compensation in about 2004 for short supply, and another undisclosed pay-out within the last twelve months.

In attempting to fill contracts, Forests Corp has been logging private property, thus extending the carnage beyond state forests and now, in another desperate bid to find timber, they plan to log previously protected steep land using the technique of cable logging. How they hope to become profitable using that expensive technique, when recording multi-million dollar losses through traditional logging, is a mystery.
- John Edwards

This post was published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on July 21, 2014.