Western Australia’s timber industry was making major strides in downstream processing and adding value to the native hardwood production, Environment Minister Peter Foss said recently.
But he warned that access to logs for some individual mills would be reviewed unless the momentum continued and all sectors of the sawmilling industry moved towards value adding.
Foss said most of the industry had now adopted initiatives outlined in the 1987 timber production strategy report. The initiatives were reinforced in the state government’s 10-year Forest Management Plan, adopted in 1994.
“The strategy and the plan recognised the value of Western Australian forests and the need for them to be sustainably managed,” Foss said.
“Both documents also strongly recognised that for the timber industry to survive and grow, it needed to shift from depending on the green structural market to supplying more valuable products.
“Value-adding had to take a major step forward with kiln drying, processing, innovative manufacturing and marketing to meet the needs of the increasing demands of a worldwide marketplace.”
Furthermore, Foss said, long-term contracts of sale had to be negotiated for the industry to recognise and meet these needs. These contracts offered security for capital expansion, strategic product and market development and gave the industry’s customers confidence in making long-term customer-buyer relationships.
“Essentially, such a strategy would overcome the dependence on the local housing industry and its cyclical downturns and resulting periods of unemployment,” Foss said.
The state government had fulfilled its commitment through the Forest Management Plan, and 10-year timber supply contracts were now standard.