14 September, 2010

Industry shortfall

Gordon Bradbury, forester, Hobart
The Age (letter), 14 September 2010

The Victorian native-forest-based industry may like to think it is a sawlog-driven industry (The Age, 12/9), but VicForests' own reports show that this is not accurate.

VicForests is clearly reluctant to show this, as the relevant numbers are spread around many reports. The 2009 Annual Report (page 40) shows that for the past two years pulpwood sales have comprised 58 per cent of total revenue, while the 2009 Sustainability Report (page 24) shows for the same period pulpwood comprised 70 per cent of total wood volume sold.

This tells us two things: the average price paid by the forest industry for native forest sawlogs is little more than the price paid for pulpwood (based on prices, there is little difference in quality between hardwood sawlog and hardwood pulpwood); and without pulpwood harvesting, VicForests and the hardwood sawlog forest industry would not exist.

Based on these figures, the Victorian hardwood sawmilling industry doesn't seem to have a very commercial, profitable future without continuing government support and subsidy.

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