Cliff edge plunge for native forest profits is opportunity to get chainsaws out of North Coast forests forever

Australian Greens

Public native forests are being logged for a net return of less than 20 cents per mature tree, according to forestry data analysed by the NSW Greens. This appallingly low return coupled with the increasing environmental damage caused by industrial logging confirms the need for an urgent end to this destructive and non viable industry.

While the industry is currently grounded on the North Coast as colossal flooding has triggered Force Majeure clauses in contracts it’s a key time to reassess the ongoing viability of the industry.

Analysis of Forestry Corporation figures obtained by Greens MP David Shoebridge show the profit from native forest logging in 2019/20 was a just $28.00 a hectare. Over the last five years native logging profits have declined from a high of $225.85 in 2016/17 to less than half that.

With every hectare of native forest containing an average yield of 140 mature trees, this equates to an average profit of less than 20 cents for each mature tree logged.

Greens MP and Forests spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“No one could look at all the damage caused to forests, waterways and wildlife by native forest logging and say that at less than 20 cents a tree, it is a worthwhile endeavour.

“These latest figures prove that native forestry is a dying industry, and the most responsible thing for the Government to do is to chart a path out of it that supports workers to transition to the plantation industry, forest protection and stewardship, and tourism.

“Right now on the North Coast the chainsaws have been halted by the rains, and this should be the beginning of the end of getting these forests permanently protected.

“Colossal flooding rains have done significant damage, and this would have only been amplified had these forests recently been logged.

“It is obscene that the destruction of each hectare of native forest is carried out for an average profit that would barely be enough to pay for an average pub meal.

“It’s no surprise that the return is so low when we know these forests are overwhelmingly turned into low-grade woodchips or palings.

“There has to be a rate of return that the Government will finally decide is too low to keep throwing money at this ‘industry’, $28 a hectare should be that point.

“The sheer amount of damage done to log a hectare of forest is enormous, the roads created, the chainsaws, the pollution in surrounding waterways, the log dumps and truck movements create a social and environmental cost that is far in excess of the meagre financial return.

“After the fires, everything changed and communities across NSW are asking the Government to protect their local forests.

“We’ve had highly sophisticated proposals from local communities who want to protect these forests so they can form part of the Great Koala National Park and other conservation and recreation plans. It’s time for Government to catch up.

“Communities on the North Coast love their forests as places for cultural experiences guided by First Nations communities, for mountain biking and hiking, camping and picnics.

“Ending native forest logging would allow the money currently wasted on forestry roads and destroying nature to be re-directed towards opening these forests up to their local communities and people across NSW,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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