Forestry Corporation NSW is a state owned corporation which provides roughly 14% of Australia's overall timber production annually. In 2022 it was revealed that Forestry Corporation had seen a $20 million loss. In recent years the corporation has also been fined as a result of several instances of logging operation non-compliance and have been protested by local community groups.
NSW Forestry Corporation Operating at a Loss
In March of 2022 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Forestry Corporation had seen a $20 million loss the previous year, with taxpayers in New South Wales forking out roughly $440 per hectare to sustain the logging of native forests.
This figure was the sum of the expense required to log more than 13,000 hectares of cypress, ironbark and red gum trees ($6 million) and the one-off recovery costs in the wake of the Black Summer Bushfires ($14 million.) Greens MP, David Shoebridge, called NSW’s native forest logging a “dying industry that is damaging the state’s finances.”
The logging of these species is primarily for firewood and the export of wood chips. The NSW Agriculture Minister, Dugald Saunders, stated that the forests were being managed in a sustainable way, balancing environmental protection and tourism alongside timber production.
A study, co-authored by ANU Professor, Andrew Macintosh, Comparing the value of alternative uses of native forests in Southern NSW, found that stopping native forestry in NSW’s south could result in an economic benefit of roughly $60 million. Prof. Macintosh argued that the only reason that native logging continues in NSW is a result of government subsidisation:
“If this was a true commercial operation it would be closed. It is only surviving because the state government is essentially choosing to underwrite it for an increasingly small number of jobs.”
Chief Executive of the Nature Conservation Council, Chris Gambian, argued that there was no longer an economic argument to be made for the sake of the logging industry:
“If you’ve got the scientists, the accountants and the people all saying it’s time to end native forest logging, what is the government waiting for?”
A spokesperson for NSW Forestry stated that while expansions of the plantation estate continues to be apart of the corporations plan, they have shifted focus to restocking burnt plantations.
Logging Operation Non-Compliance
In March of 2020 it was reported that Forestry Corporation had continued to fell unburnt forest in the aftermath of the state's recent bush fires, which serve as habitat for some of the state's most vulnerable species.
In March of 2021 the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two breach notices consisting of fines totalling $33,000 to Forestry Corporation for allegedly not including the critically endangered Swift Parrot records in planning for operations. The EPA also delivered three official cautions for an alleged failure by Forestry Corporation to mark-up eucalypt feed trees which serve an essential food source for the parrot before beginning logging operations.
In April of 2022 the EPA issued Forestry Corporation with three penalty infringement notices, totalling $45,000 in fines for destroying hollow bearing trees in the Mogo State Forest in 2020. These trees serve as a vital habitat for various endangered species.
Roughly forty residents of Karangi held a peaceful protest on the 28th of September against Forestry Corporation's plans to fell the Orara East State Forest. Logging operations in the area are expected to begin over the next few months across roughly 100 hectares of native forest and 40 hectares of hardwood timber.
Karangi residents had previously reported sightings of koalas and other significant species in the area. Furthermore, the protesting group, the "Friends of Karangi Forest, claimed that only 3 out of the 10 residents with adjacent properties to the logging area were notified of Forestry Corporation's intentions.
A Forestry Corporation spokesperson stated that all direct neighbours of the logging area had been notified about the intended operations. Furthermore, they stated that significant areas of Karangi's forests will be reserved for wildlife habitat, with only a portion of the native forest being harvested, and that there are strict conditions which regulate timber harvesting.