A game-changer on the hori­zon

New tim­ber­lands to bid into the fed­eral emis­sions re­duc­tion fund

Australian Forests and Timber - - FRONT PAGE -

TIM­BER PRO­CES­SORS, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties and con­sumers will ben­e­fit from the largest ex­pan­sion of the State-owned tim­ber plan­ta­tion es­tate in decades, fol­low­ing the pur­chase of close to 7,000 hectares of pine plan­ta­tions by Forestry Cor­po­ra­tion of NSW.

The newly-pur­chased es­tate ad­joins State-owned pine plan­ta­tions near the ma­jor tim­ber pro­cess­ing hubs of Oberon, Tu­mut and Tum­barumba and will aug­ment tim­ber and pulp­wood pro­duc­tion over the short and long term.

But, AFPA Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Ross Hamp­ton says while it cer­tainly is good news see NSW For­est Corp in­vest­ing and build­ing its tim­ber­lands as­sets “these are pur­chases of ex­ist­ing plan­ta­tions”.

Forestry Cor­po­ra­tion of NSW al­ready man­ages more than 220,000 hectares of soft­wood plan­ta­tions as part of the $1.92 bil­lion soft­wood plan­ta­tion in­dus­try.

This prop­erty in­cludes close to 7,000 hectares of pine plan­ta­tion and plantable area, so this pur­chase is the equiv­a­lent of adding 13,000 foot­ball fields of pine plan­ta­tions to the Sta­te­owned es­tate.

Mr Hamp­ton said that while the in­dus­try would ben­e­fit from the pro­fes­sional and ac­tive own­er­ship of For­est Corp, the broader for­est prod­ucts in­dus­try badly needed new green­field sites as well.

“We have been stalled in this re­gard for more than a decade.

“Mills can’t get suf­fi­cient soft­wood in some places and Aus­tralia is miss­ing out on value adding man­u­fac­tur­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties as com­pa­nies can’t in­vest as they can­not cur­rently see a grow­ing fi­bre sup­ply.

“The game-changer may be the op­por­tu­nity we hope will soon emerge for new tim­ber­lands to bid into the fed­eral emis­sions re­duc­tion fund - a mod­est car­bon pay­ment po­ten­tially off­set­ting a small por­tion of the high costs of plant­ing. The method­ol­ogy to al­low this is soon to be re­leased. In­dus­try is main­tain­ing the pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to deal with the fi­nal de­tails as soon as pos­si­ble, “said Mr Hamp­ton.

Tim­ber is one of the most re­new­able prod­ucts avail­able and sus­tain­able tim­ber pro­duc­tion un­der­pins the boom­ing hous­ing con­struc­tion and pack­ag­ing in­dus­tries.

State-owned pine plan­ta­tions cur­rently pro­duce enough struc­tural lum­ber to con­struct a quar­ter of the homes built in Aus­tralia each year, as well as sig­nif­i­cant vol­umes of re­new­able pulp­wood for pa­per and pack­ag­ing.

This newly-pur­chased plan­ta­tion will be sus­tain­ably man­aged in line with the neigh­bour­ing State for­est plan­ta­tions and will con­tinue to pro­duce a re­new­able sup­ply of tim­ber in per­pe­tu­ity.

Forestry Cor­po­ra­tion of NSW Chair­man James Mil­lar said the pur­chase was made pos­si­ble by sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments in prof­itabil­ity and re­duc­tion in debt in re­cent years.

“Our abil­ity to make this in­vest­ment was a di­rect re­sult of the ef­forts of the forestry team over the past few years to im­prove our per­for­mance. This has en­abled us to pay down debt and be in a po­si­tion to in­vest in ex­pan­sion. This is an ex­cit­ing new ac­qui­si­tion close to our ex­ist­ing plan­ta­tion re­sources and key tim­ber pro­cess­ing hubs, so it will of­fer great syn­er­gies with our ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tions,” Mr Mil­lar said.

The South-West Slopes (of which Tu­mut is a hub) cur­rently pro­duce more than a bil­lion dol­lars worth of for­est prod­ucts a year – but there is­plenty of room for ex­pan­sion, ac­cord­ing to Soft­woods Work­ing Group Chair­man Peter Crowe

“Aus­tralia is short of wood,” he told the Tu­mut & Ade­long Times. “It’s been pretty much like that for the last 30 odd years, and if you look back his­tor­i­cally we’re just asshort of tim­ber now as we were af­ter the Sec­ond World War when Aus­tralia ba­si­cally ran out of wood.

“We need to do some­thing about it.”

For­mer Mayor Trina Thomson be­lieves the coun­cil has a key role to play in en­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ment in the plan­ta­tions.

Ross Hamp­ton.

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