Victorian Association of Forest Industries
forest management, which is the aim of the RFA process,
requires the effective integration of all forest
uses and values, not just one set to the exclusion
of all others.
A range of environmental, social and economic factors
must be considered and integrated at various levels
(local, regional, State, national and international).
While the RFA process is science based and guided
by quantitative targets, value judgements are sometimes
required. This is where the political process comes
What I will do this evening is highlight some of
the social and economic aspects of the hardwood
timber industry within the Otway region(to be confirmed
by forthcoming CRA reports).
The Otways themselves have been used for timber
production since the1850's.
There have been about 245 sawmills recorded in the
area since that time.
In 1961, there were 27 sawmills extracting 119,000
m3. Industry took a 40% cut in 1962 and a further
cut of 25% in 1974. This should illustrate that,
even in the past, supply of wood to industry has
been actively regulated to ensure sustainability.
Harvesting is now constrained to the sustainable
yield rate of 44,000 m3,which comes off about a
third (31%) of public land in the area. This means
that nearly seven tenths of public land is not used
for hardwood timber production, comparing favorably
with the JANIS target of reserving 15% of pre-European
distribution. Note that the OECD advocates reservation
of 10% of each 'biome'.
Public forest provides the feed stock for a number
of hardwood sawlog mills, plus residual log sales.
On average, only about 300 Hectares (or 0.2 %) of
public land in the Otways is logged each year.
For every cubic metre of high quality sawlog produced,
2 cubic metres of residual roundwood can be thrown
up (eg. about 80,000 tonnes per annum).The ratio
could be higher in poorer forest types. To what
extent this material is utilised depends on markets.
Minimising waste is one of the tenets of good environmental
practice. This also applies in the forestry context,
where residual roundwood is the waste by-product
of sustainable sawlog harvesting.
Sawmill wastes are also converted to woodchips (rather
than being burnt). This is an additional source
of income for mills.
Compare the hardwood residual wood outcome with
that of plantation sources in Australia. Roughly
the same amount ends up as chip (67% vs. 71%). This
reflects the fact that not all of a tree is sawlog,
and that trees are round, not square. In Victoria,
about31% of the hardwood harvest is sawlog and 69%
woodchip (20% of which is exported).
Employees & dependents: 210 direct jobs plus 400
indirect, plus probably about 1800 dependents. 4%
of regional work force. Especially important to
towns such as Colac, Birregurra, Forrest and Gellibrand.
Includes 36 contractors with $10M worth of gear.
Economic turnover: $21M pa (compare to forest based
tourism of $1 to$2M). Tourism in the region has
increased 143% between 1995 and 1998alongside logging.
ie. the two are not mutually exclusive.
Industry in the region spent $39M between 1990 and
1995 on value-adding technology. There have been
further investments of $11M up to today. This reflects
market changes. Plantations and imports are competing
instructural markets, with native forest increasingly
going into high value-added appearance grades.
It also reflects the community expectation of maximum
return from the utilisation of native forest. Ash
and Mixed Species out of the Otways is well suited
to value-adding. There has been upward movement
in log grades in recent years(D down from 42% to
12%, C up from 48%to 68% and B+ up from 9% to 19%).
Need to remember that Australia imports $2Bn more
in forest products than we produce. This presents
a moral issue. We should be aiming to use our own
forests in an environmentally sustainable manner,
rather than someone else's, where sustainability
can't be guaranteed.
In Victoria, there are already extensive processes
to ensure this is the case. Eg. LCC outcomes, FM
Plans, Code of Forest Practices, FOLS etc. These
are further solidified by the RFA process.
Eg. FM Plan and old growth. All true old growth
in the Otways is reserved. 60% of ìs urrogateî
old growth is also reserved. Only 13%of the remainder
will be used over the next 100 years.
Water production: Need to alter 20% of catchment
for detectable change in water yield. Rules under
the Plan limit the proportion of catchments logged
annually (0.2%) and over a 10 year period (2%).
Seasonal and slope restrictions as well. Buffers
under Code to protect water quality (CSIRO reviewed
in 1996). Note 16% of the catchments are cleared
On the basis of the above, we believe that the hardwood
timber industry in the Otways is sustainable, that
it provides a commodity which is essential for everyday
life and that it is a significant part of the regional
economy. It can happily co-exist with tourism and
water production and, in our view, there is no valid
reason why it should not be allowed.