25 June 2014 — BRIEF: Forest Corporation NSW will pay $8.55 million to Boral to buy back 50,000 cubic metres of hardwood timber allocations annually for the next nine years.

“This buyback will allow the continued maturing of North Coast forests and has been agreed in negotiations between the Forestry Corporation of NSW and its largest hardwood customer on the North Coast, Boral,” Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.

“Our North Coast forests are certified sustainable, but projections show that without this buyback we would have needed to dramatically reduce the volume of timber supplied to industry after 2023 to ensure the forests continue to be healthy and productive.”

The NSW Forest Products Association welcomed the decision.

“By securing the supply of HQ saw logs to all industry on the North Coast, this decision not only maintains the supply of vital products to the NSW building industry but sustains employment in regional NSW,” NSW FPA general manager Maree McCaskill said.

“For NSWFPA members, whose businesses rely on allocations of timber under contract with Forest Corporation NSW, the long term sustainability of both the resource and the industry is of paramount importance.

“In this concern, the timber industry stands united with the NSW Government and with North Coast communities in seeking to harvest timber in a sustainable way. This decision ensures that a well-regulated supply will continue and assists in crafting a future for timber businesses post 2023 when negotiations under a further Regional Forest Agreement have concluded.”

The North East Forest Alliance said the move was “too little, too late”, and that the move may not help the poor state of the increasing areas of forest, which spokesman Dailan Pugh said were “denuded of sawlogs, being invaded by weeds and suffering from dieback”.

“Since the new Wood Supply Agreements were issued in 2004, the Forestry Corporation has been unable to supply them, with an average annual shortfall of large high quality sawlogs of 40,400 cubic metres from 2004-12,” Mr Pugh said. “So a reduction in commitments of 50,000 cubic meters may not translate into a significant reduction in logging intensity.

“The government is now also changing the logging rules to make more trees available from the habitat of threatened species and excessively steep and erodible lands to help redress shortfalls.”