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A plan to save SA forestry jobs

At a time when jobs in South Australia are bleeding profusely, a dynamic group of regional community leaders has put together a plan that will save 100 jobs and a sawmill, which injects $9.4 million into the State’s economy. Source: The Northern Argus

The Northern Forests Community Initiatives Group (NFCIG) believes it has a solution to rebuild South Australia’s northern commercial forests after major fires ravaged the region in 2013 and 2014.

In 2012, State Government controversially returned to treasury ForestrySA’s $18 million self-insurance fund in place to cover just such events, effectively leaving the local community to fend for itself.

The Northern Forests group, in conjunction with local Morgan Sawmill and forestry consultant David Geddes, has now devised an innovative replanting model which would almost halve the size of the Mid North plantations and cost State Government as little as $95,000 year.

As chair of the NFCIG, Greg Boston said he believes the new model demands urgent collaborative discussion.

“It’s certainly a far cry from the State Government commissioned report which had estimated the cost of a full replant of the Bundaleer and Wirrabara forests to be $11.4 million over 44 years ($244,000 a year),” Mr Boston said.

“Our communities are asking State Government to examine this fresh approach to commercial forestry in the Mid North.

“Our plan takes a smarter approach to creating an increased financial return for timber resources, through reduced planting and management costs.”

Smart firebreak designs are incorporated in the new forest model to reduce losses from future fires.

Mr Boston said a meeting had been arranged to discuss the plan with members of the State Government’s Mid North Forest Future steering committee.

“We are asking State Government to come back to the table and have a good look at this innovative plan,” Mr Boston said.

“More detail is required to confirm the returns from the new replanting approach, and we’re asking State Government to co-operate with us and do its best to find a way to make this work rather than walk away from this substantial job provider.

“We’ve done the heavy lifting now we are calling on the State Government to work with us on exploring this option, getting in and thrashing out the details and working with the local businesses involved to achieve a workable outcome which is good for our local communities and good for the State.

“The State Government says it wants to support thriving regional communities and we’ve found a way that for as little as $95,000 per year, they would be saving 50 full time jobs and 50 flow on jobs in the community.

“Furthermore, this approach will ensure that the northern timber industry can continue injecting $9.4 million into the State’s economy now and into the future.”