Amidst growing protests against native forestry in NSW by environmentalists, the state’s timber industry is facing a major disruption, with Timber NSW expressing concerns about increased regulatory controls that could impact timber production.
According to Timber NSW, which represents the timber and forest products industry in New South Wales, the hardwoods of the state, a product of native forestry, are unique in both appearance and performance, express the country of their origin, and are a sustainable, renewable, and recyclable resource.
However, the industry group says that ongoing environmental protests and media reports, which Timber NSW calls ‘misinformed’ and ‘misguided’, may compel the Minns Government in NSW to follow Victoria and Western Australia in closing public native forestry. The timber industry’s fears were reinforced by the recent action of the NSW Government in stopping timber harvesting operations in the areas being assessed for the Great Koala National Park.
The proposal to transition to plantations is unfeasible, and will not help biodiversity or assist koala populations, says Timber NSW CEO Maree McCaskill. Given that the transition may take 50-60 years, she explains that it will cripple timber supply, cost thousands of jobs in regional communities, and wipe out most of the $2.9 billion the industry contributes to the NSW economy each year.
“The truth is, we already have world’s best practice native forestry right here in NSW,” says McCaskill, adding that "The native forest industry in NSW is already one of the most highly regulated in the world".
"Production forests managed by the government-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW have consequently reduced in size over the past 30 years, leading to higher reliance on imported timber," she says.
Of the 12 percent of NSW public forests available for harvest each year, only 0.3 per cent is actually harvested says Timber NSW.
In a joint public submission to the NSW Premier, the NSW timber industry represented by Timber NSW, the Timber Trade Industrial Association, the South East Timber Association, and Forest & Wood Communities Australia, has called upon the Government to support native forestry, emphasising the need to be guided by science when considering the proposal to replace public regrowth native forests with hardwood plantations.
Industry stakeholders say that Australia is the sixth most forested nation on earth and has best-practice ESFM forestry regulation.
"The NSW timber industry has the potential to meet the growing demand in Australia for a sustainable, renewable, and recyclable resource like timber," claim a number of pro-logging groups.
The NSW timber industry has also expressed concerns regarding the misinformation being spread about native forestry operations undertaken by the government-owned Forestry Corporation, and called on the Government to correct these misguided assertions in a timely and accurate manner.
“We're calling on the NSW Government to work constructively and consult fully with the industry and communities in support of an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable timber industry in NSW,” says McCaskill.
Meanwhile, the NSW timber industry has launched a campaign to address the concerns of stakeholders, protect native forestry in NSW, and realise the great potential of Australian forestry in the 21st century.