The NSW timber industry has provided a submission to the Premier and Ministers, which it claims “addresses key misinformation and falsehoods” about the State’s native forest management.
It comes as popular 2GB radio identify Ray Hadley has implored NSW Premier Christopher Minns “to grow a pair,” with concerns that NSW Environmental Minister Penny Sharp “is the defacto Premier” driving an agenda that will close an industry, reported by Industry to be “the most regulated in the world.”
At the same time, timber workers living in small communities near fear the summer bushfire season could be catastrophic should logging be halted, and they aren’t around to help fight blazes.
As reported in the Daily Telegraph, they are concerned “the koalas are going to burn” if timber communities are forced to relocate.
“If they leave us out of the loop, if we’re unable to log those areas and continue our business when those fires come, they won’t have any koalas in that koala park,” according to forest harvesting contractor Kirsty Parker from Dorrigo Timber.
Wood Central spoke to Timber NSW CEO Maree McCaskill, who said the submission responded to “misinformed media reports” that “exploited a general lack of forestry knowledge” in the community.
She said successive Liberal and Labor State Governments “have ensured that public forests have been protected in National Parks and conservation reserves.”
At the same time, “the production forests managed by Forestry Corporation for multiple values have gradually reduced in size over the past thirty years, but dramatically increased in regulatory controls.”
In the wake of the decision by the Victorian and Western Australian governments to close state forests, “there is a real risk NSW may follow suit,” Ms McCaskill said.
Earlier this month, Wood Central revealed that the NSW Government had approved the development of the Great Koala National Park, which, according to the NSW Environmental Minister, “represents the most significant commitment in the State’s history.”
According to an anonymous source connected to the decision, the new zones cut through vast forest areas “like Swiss cheese” and will represent 1% of the total State Forest area in North-East New South Wales.
Wood Central revealed that the Great Koala National Park will come into force before the end of 2024 – with the 106 coups, which make up 8,400 hectares of State Forests – becoming permanent exclusion zones never to be touched.
Potentially, the Great Koala National Park could cover 175,000 hectares of forest, with an anonymous source telling Wood Central that it could cut the local Industry by as much as 50%.
Wood Central has obtained a copy of the submission, which claims that the decision to close the Industry would “cripple timber supply and wipe out more of the $2.9 billion that the industry contributes to the NSW economy every year.”
In addition to Timber NSW, the submission is supported by a varied number of industry associations, including the Australian Forest Contractors Association, the Timber Trade Industrial Association (TTIA), the South East Timber Association (SETA) and Forest & Wood Communities Australia (FWCA).
The submission makes three key points:
- Native Forestry is Essential
It claims that any closure of public regrowth and transition to hardwood plantations is “completely unnecessary and unfeasible”. Supported by an economic report provided by Ernst + Young and Professor Oswin Maurer, an international expert in consumer behaviour and tourism marketing, it alleges that the benefit of closure on biodiversity, tourism and climate change “does not exist.”
- Recognise the 21st Century Potential of Timber.
The report states that Australia is the sixth most forested nation and has best-practice Ecologically Sustainable Forestment Management forestry regulations. “There is huge potential in the NSW timber industry to meet the growing demand in Australia for a sustainable, renewable, recyclable resource like timber,” Ms McCaskill said. But to do this, “We need to realise this nation-building potential.”
Educate & Inform Citizens About Forestry
It also points to “falsehoods and misinformation spread against legitimate Government activities” and challenges the State Government to “counter and correct these misguided assertions in a timely and accurate manner.” According to Ms McCaskill, this is crucial to the Industry’s long-term future:
“We’re calling on the NSW Government to work constructively and consult fully with the Industry and communities in support of an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable timber industry in NSW.”
Major Study Confirms NSW Native Forestry Has Social Licence
A new report has found that the NSW native forest industry does have a social licence, with 72% of residents believing the native forest industry is a ‘legitimate industry’ and 69% recognising its importance for the economy.
The findings come from the most extensive research ever undertaken by StollzNow Research, which the North East NSW Forestry Hub appointed to provide insights into native forestry’s social licence to operate.
StollzNow Research conducted the research over three months between May and July 2023 and involved the following:
- Ten focus groups with members of the public (2 in Sydney and 8 in regional areas in North East NSW)
- 2,200 surveys, including 1,194 from North East NSW and 1,006 from Greater Sydney
- 19 interviews with Key Opinion Leaders
Crucially, after removing ‘unsure’ respondents, 86% of residents believed that native forestry was legitimate, 68% thought it was ethical, and 67% trusted the NSW native timber industry.
According to Neil Stollzmow, the cost of living (70%), cost of housing (59%), interest rates (53%) and climate change (47%) are the four major social issues of our time.
Giselle Stollzmow said participants “could not imagine a world where wood and wood-based products could be completely replaced.”
And whilst valuing timber products does not equate to a social licence, “it suggests that if these products were unavailable or considerably increased in cost, this would be noticed and questioned.”
The 250-page report, now available for download from the NSW North East Regional Hub website, outlines the complications and opportunities for forestry.