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Forest Alliance stirs pot for Deanmill

WA Forest Alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling said the state government had guaranteed about $80 million of taxpayers’ money to the big native forest sawmills to keep them in business. Source: The Donnybrook-Bridgetown Mail, The West Australian

Despite assurances from the Forests Products Commission and the positive outcome for Deanmill timber workers, the WA Forest Alliance continues to say that the mill does not have a long-term future.

“The state government has signed eight investment security guarantees with the biggest mills promising them millions of dollars in the event the government can no longer supply the many thousands of ancient jarrah and karri trees being logged and milled,” said Ms Berlerling

“The native forest timber industry is already costing hard working WA taxpayers millions of dollars to keep them propped-up.

Ms Beckerling claims that after decades of clearfelling and widespread overcutting coupled with the serious impacts of climate change, South West forests could no longer sustain this sort of operation.

A Forest Products Commission (FPC) spokeswoman said claims the timber would run out were incorrect. She said forests were a renewable resource that could be sustainably harvested and regrown forever.

Of the total native forest estate under the current Forest Management Plan (FMP), less than 0.5 per cent is harvested annually.

“Every hectare harvested is regenerated,” she said. “The quantity of sawlogs allocated to customers is within the sustainable yield.

“The sustainable yield is determined by the Department of Environment and Conservation and reviewed by independent experts.”

Claims ancient forests are being harvested are incorrect.

“Investment security guaranties (ISGs) simply recognise the term required for a return on investment in new sawmilling capital is longer than the 10-year FMP cycle.

“As contracts cannot extend beyond the FMP, the ISGs provide support for the new investment necessary to ensure a modern, viable industry continues.

“ISGs are only paid out in the event existing contracts are not continued during the next FMP.”

Auswest managing director Gary Addison said the deal with Gunns for Deanmill saved 86 jobs.

Asked to explain why the company felt it could succeed where timber giant Gunns failed, Mr Addison said Auswest was committed to the hardwood timber industry and had set itself more realistic goals.