Tasmania can increase sawlog production by 650,000 cubic metres over the next 15 years, according to a report published by the Tasmanian Forestry Hub.
The report “Building the Case for Supporting Intervention to Increase Sawlog Production from Australia’s Forests” is supported by a Case Study, “Silvicultural Interventions to Improve Sawlog Production in Tasmanian Forests.”
Published by Greenwood Strategy Solutions, it calls for greater intervention by the Tasmanian State Government to increase log supply.
It proposes the “conversion of hardwood plantations from short to long rotation and active silvicultural management of regrowth in native forests,” which could lead to an increase of 7% over current sawlog production levels.
Notably, “it will deliver important and tangible environmental benefits for the whole community, including increased accumulation and storage of carbon, improved forest health and improved ecosystem function.”
The report coincides with months of debate between industry and ENGOs over the harvest of native forests.
In July, Wood Central reported that the Tasmanian Sawmillers Association and environmental groups clashed over-harvesting areas identified under the 2012 Tasmanian Forests Agreement.
It also comes as Australia faces an ongoing shortage of structural-grade timber for use in the construction of houses.
With an anticipated population of 40 million by 2050, Australia’s plantation estate is at a 20-year low, leading governments nationwide to look for ways to boost production.
“Longer term policy settings are in place to encourage the establishment of new plantations to grow more timber to meet those requirements. However, it will be at least thirty years before additional wood is available from new plantations,” the report said.
“There are potential forest management solutions which could be introduced right now, which could result in increased sawlog production from the existing forest estate.”
However, in some cases, “these solutions are not commercially viable,” the report said.
It concludes that there is a strong rationale for intervention in the form of structured incentives to help forest owners realise these opportunities.
The report’s proposed recommendations include:
- Emissions Reduction Fund rules:
a) Ensure that E. nitens and E.globulus are recognised as eligible long-rotation species in Tasmania and Victoria.
b) Ensure that the additionality exclusion for government program-funded projects is relaxed for long rotation conversion projects.
c) Ensure that actively managed regrowth native forests are eligible for ERF participation where additional and tangible forest and ecosystem health benefits can be demonstrated.
- Long rotation plantation forestry fund: Establish a dedicated long rotation conversion fund of up to $2.5 million annually for ten years for eligible plantations with agreed criteria addressing species, productivity, scale and proximity to processing facilities and infrastructure.
- Forest health restoration fund: Establish a forest health restoration fund of up to $4 million annually for ten years to support active silvicultural management of regrowth native forests on private land where additional and tangible forest and ecosystem health benefits can be demonstrated, and the activity would not be viable without financial support—criteria for participation to be determined through the application of an appropriate natural capital accounting method and monitoring.
For more information, download the reports from the Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Network.