The Sustainable Forestry Industries Roundtable convenor has slammed the WA government for failing to deliver mine site clearance wood to local consumers who rely on it for cooking and heating.
“The state’s logging ban is unravelling the government as the reality of its knee-jerk decision starts to bite,” David Utting said.
“Ministers are becoming nervous that they won’t be able to supply an essential service – heating with firewood – something considered unimportant when the Premier announced an end to sustainable timber production,” he said.
“Its failure to consider firewood as important saw supplies dropped 25% last year as the WA Forestry Commission underperformed. Many went cold, and prices skyrocketed.”
Mr Utting said thousands of tonnes of mine clearance wood from Alcoa and other mine sites were being burnt for charcoal at Kemmerton to supply multinational players or might even go overseas to deliver woodchips to Japan.
The government has always said it would consider the opportunity to reserve the wood for domestic usage by local consumers.
“All we see is complete inaction on all fronts,” Mr Utting said.
Next year, with no definite timber harvesting plans, it is likely that no wood will be produced after January 1.
To avoid this likely shortfall, every log is now being produced and stored as firewood – if it’s a sawlog.
The Sustainable Forest Industries Roundtable has been advised that sawmills have been told not to expect any more logs.
“The government has abandoned those contractual commitments to produce as much firewood as possible,” Mr Utting said.
“This panic to stockpile firewood will be at the expense of furniture makers and other timber users.”
Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis assured the state’s furniture industry that supplies would be maintained.
“But it seems the government is unable to meet all their commitments and have chosen to sacrifice some customers in favour of others,” Mr Utting said.
‘We have been asking the minister to produce a plan for the timber supply since January. But all sensible planning has gone out the window, and we scramble to meet even one customer’s needs.”
It is well known in the industry that harvests contractors have downed tools and walked away, and the government can no longer fulfil its obligations.
It has been advertising nationally to bolster its production, but no one will front up because they are proving unreliable.
“This is a backdoor method of strangling our sustainable industry and closing local sawmills,” Mr Utting said.
“We have continued to press the minister for another meeting, but the previous meetings with her have borne no results.”