The Deputy Premier Bryan Green said today action to move logs stockpiled because of the closure of the Triabunna export mill would avert a shutdown of the State s forest industry.
Mr Green said a build up of sawlogs, forest residues and sawmill waste had reached a critical stage.
Unless the stockpiles are cleared hundreds of forest workers could be stood down before Christmas, Mr Green said.
We face a major transport task to move pulpwood to the only remaining export facility at Bell Bay, sawlogs to the North-West where there is a lack of supply and to help sawmillers and processors clear their yards of residues.
Mr Green said the Government would provide $1.1 million from its forest transition fund to help cover additional transport costs.
These costs would not have been incurred if the Triabunna mill was open.
The Government wants to see Triabunna operational as soon as possible but in the meantime the industry must keep going as we continue to work constructively through the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement.
The logjam at export yards, processing operations and on coupe landings is restricting the ability of contractors to work and is causing safety concerns.
Mr Green said that the Government remains committed to ensuring family owned sawmills and the veneer industry remains strong and viable.
Forestry Tasmania has contractual obligations that have to be met and therefore the whole value chain must be maintained, Mr Green said.
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Emissions trading scheme? Take a leaf out of our book
FOR Tasmanian grazier Roderic O’Connor, the debate raging in Canberra about a national carbon tax and emissions trading scheme seems a little irrelevant.
Not that Mr O’Connor is critical of attempts to redress the pressing global issue of climate change and global warming caused by harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Simply, he is already a step ahead of any national regulatory scheme administered by the federal government to penalise or price carbon pollution in Australia.
Two months ago, Mr O’Connor became one of only 14 farmers in Australia to be issued with verified carbon credits that can be sold on international markets. In the next few weeks, he expects to sell more than 30,000 carbon offset credits, or units, generated on his historic property, Connorville, to global companies looking to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
Even more startlingly, the Cressy farmer has discovered he can earn as much by leaving native trees on his property standing and being paid for their carbon content, as he would by cutting them down.
At the current market rate of an average $15 for every carbon offset credit sold - equivalent to one tonne of emissions saved by not logging his forests and turning them into woodchips, paper or processed timber - it is a welcome cash injection of more than $400,000 annually.
“Do I now call myself a carbon farmer?” Mr O’Connor asks rhetorically. “Absolutely; and I’m very happy to do so.”
The switch from being a farmer of trees, sheep and irrigated crops to one with a large focus on carbon trading came over the past few years, as Mr O’Connor observed the changing viability of the Tasmanian timber industry and the emerging global carbon economy.
The seventh-generation landholder decided not to log any of the 3500ha of native forest on Connorville that had been slated to be gradually harvested over the next 50 years.
Instead, he called in specialist carbon assessment company Redd Forests to measure and assess how much carbon would be preserved - and then traded - in his tall eucalypt trees by deciding not to cut them down. The result surprised him, with the opportunity for earning as much annually from selling his protected trees over 25 years as if he had progressively cut them down.
“Too few Australians realise that you can already trade carbon and farmers like my family are now being paid to do so,” Mr O’Connor said yesterday.
Redd Forests managing director Stephen Dickey admits he is delighted to see the first cash flowing from the campaign to translate standing native forests in Tasmania into valuable carbon credits instead of toilet paper or plywood.
• PUBLIC SUBSIDISATION OF LOGS TRANSPORTATION
Move in the Wrong Direction
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today said that they do not support the announced provision of $1.1 million from the forest transition fund to subsidise the transportation of logs from the south of the state to Bell Bay and the north west.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that this is yet more taxpayer money being used to prop up an unsustainable industry, instead of investing in the necessary transition.
Mr McKim also said that it is his understanding that this money does not come from any monies associated with the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).
“The Greens do not support this use of taxpayer money to keep on propping up patently unviable industry practices and a fundamentally flawed business model,” Mr McKim said.
“If industry players cannot cover the costs of transporting these logs to either Bell Bay or the north-west, then the logs should not be getting cut down in the first place.”
“It beggars belief that industry could afford the transportation costs to Triabunna, but somehow cannot afford the rest of the distance to Bell Bay without receiving public subsidisation.”
“Amongst other things, the Forests IGA holds significant potential for a transition out of a failed forest industry business model and onto a sustainable footing, yet this old-style subsidisation is a move in the wrong direction.”
“Two-steps forward with the Forests IGA potential, but a massive step backwards with the public subsidisation of $1.1 million,” Mr McKim said.
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