Australian Forests and Timber

Recovery milestone hides timber shortage

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FORESTRY Corporatio­n of NSW is celebratin­g an important recovery milestone with two million tonnes of fire-affected timber harvested, hauled and sold from the organisati­on’s bushfire-affected Tumut and Bombala softwood plantation­s.

But Timber New South Wales is warning that the South Coast is almost closed and that mills are facing huge shortages of hardwood and softwood.

She said the material being harvested was going to chip mills and not for sawlogs.

And is it believed that on the south coast the shortages are causing major friction between mill owners and Forestry Corp.

“There is no hardwood,” Timber NSW general manager Maree Mccaskill said.

“Nothing is going into the mills on the south coast,” she said.

“There is a stand-off with Forest Corp with their coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval requiremen­ts and then post the bushfires the EPA’s site-specific conditions.

“So they are down to negotiatin­g block by block, and nothing has happened.”

On the north coast of the state the same problem existed.

Ms Mccaskill said the EPA was trying to starve the timber industry out so it financiall­y collapses.

Ms Mccaskill said the south east mills were “about to hit a cliff”.

“That is why Hyne and AKD are screaming, because there is no timber,” she said.

Claims recently by Hyne that it may be forced to shut its Tumbarumba mill because of the shortage of timber was no idle threat.

“There is not enough timber to go around and keep those mills going,” Ms McCaskill said.

Forestry Corporatio­n’s Acting Snowy Regional Manager, Louise Bourke, said the milestone represente­d around 46,700 truckloads of logs and was a significan­t boost for communitie­s recovering from the devastatin­g 2019-20 bushfire season.

Ms Bourke said the salvage harvesting program had meant the local timber industry was having an incredibly busy year, and could continue to support the region’s recovery from the impact of the bushfire season.

“Whilst the fire was clearly a devastatin­g event, the recovery process has been a boost for some local contractin­g businesses this year in what are otherwise very difficult times,” Ms Bourke said.

Roughly one third of the plantation­s in the area surroundin­g Tumut and Bombala were impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Fire-affected timber has the same structural properties as unburnt timber, so can be harvested and processed into house frames, furniture and other essential renewable wood products.

After a fire, there is a 12-month window to salvage the timber before it starts to deteriorat­e.

Meanwhile salvage harvesting on Kangaroo Island, where around 90 per cent of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers’ trees valued in excess of $100 million and all of the island’s independen­t plantation­s were affected in some way by the by fires in January, will soon begin.

Advice to the company is that the target logs must be harvested within two years and stored under water or sprinklers in order to preserve value.

This strategy is expected to allow the company to maximise recoverabl­e volume, as it awaits approval for the KI Seaport facility at Smith Bay.

KIPT is also in discussion­s with independen­t growers on the Island regarding harvest of their fire-damaged trees.

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