FORESTS AND THE ECONOMY

IT DOESN’T MAKE DOLLARS OR SENSE

From a purely economic perspective, completing the transition out of native forest logging in favour of a sustainable, profitable and stable 21st Century timber industry is long overdue.

The WA Government agency the Forest Products Commission (FPC) manages the logging of the south-west’s native forests, publicly owned plantations and sandalwood. The Australia Institute’s 2016 report Barking up the Wrong Trees analyses the Forest Products Commission’s native forest logging finances as well as productivity and employment associated with the industry and makes a strong case for reform.

“The WA FPC has received more in government financial support than it has generated in profit. Its native forestry operations have posted repeated losses, and log quality and forest values have steadily declined. Native forestry employs relatively few people. A plan for transition would protect both forests and state finances.”

Swann, Browne. 2016. Barking up the Wrong Trees. The Australia Institute.

The FPC’s accumulated net profit over 16 years of operation is $45 million and over this time net cash payments from the Government to the FPC have totalled $110 million (Swann, Browne, 2016, p1).

Native forest logging is no longer viable anywhere in Australia and hasn’t been for several years. Over the past seven years NSW’s logging agency lost $79 million and Forestry Tasmania lost $30 million in the period 2010 – 2013 (Swann, Browne, 2016, p24).

Native forest logging is a financial burden on the State and it is time for the transition of the industry to be completed. The industry has been naturally transitioning for several years and now 83 per cent of Australia’s log supply is from plantations. With so much of the native timber wasted as woodchips and fuel wood, and the craft industry able to be supplied with timber from clearing operations, completing the transition makes sense.

Read Barking up the Wrong Trees for details on the economics of the industry.

For information on our plan for the transition of the industry see The Plan

SUPPORTING BENEFICIAL ENTERPRISES

Many sustainable, profitable, culturally and environmentally beneficial enterprises rely on intact, healthy forests. These include: eco-tourism and forest based recreation; Noongar cultural and educational practice; honey production; art; research and education on forests in many areas including climate, water, biology and ecology, bush food and medicine and so much more.

These areas, and many others, form the basis of a strong, diverse and resilient economy and culture for the south-west. You can read more about each of them by following the links from the Campaign tab on this website. This is the future for the south-west forests. The timber industry isn’t compatible with a strong, diverse south-west economy.