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Forestry Tasmania’s improved loss

Rob de Fégely

Forestry Tasmania has posted a $24.1 million loss for 2016-17; a significant improvement from the $65.4 million loss the year before. Source: The Examiner

The final Forestry Tasmania report, before its rebranding to Sustainable Timber Tasmania, was released with company chairman Rob de Fégely blaming the loss on revaluations of the forest estate ($39.6 million loss) and superannuation liabilities ($26.2 million loss)

But he said the company was able to reduce deficits by increasing prices of sawlogs and increased woodchip sales which resulted in $14.2 million more in revenue

About $2 million was saved in staffing costs.

Mr de Fégely said a $60 million sale of 29,000 hectares of hardwood plantation would allow the company to rid itself of $26.1 million in net borrowings in 2017-18.

The annual report showed total wood production was down to 1.43 million cubic metres; a drop of 33,213 cubic metres.

The harvest of high-quality sawlogs dropped by almost 9500 cubic metres compared to the year before with the company managing to only gather 117,592 cubic metres.

In a statement, Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the company had never been able to meet the legislated target of 137,000 cubic metres of high-quality sawlog which is why the government had planned to open up informal reserves for logging.

But Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the annual report stated that based most recent review by Forestry Tasmania of the high-quality sawlog quota, the company would be able to make that wood volume available from production land for the next 90 years.

He said higher prices from sawmiller demanded for sawlogs might have seen the volume drop or the available wood might have been uneconomical to harvest during the year.

An update review of the quota is due to be released later this year.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the forestry company made a net loss of $42 million and $27 million more was spent on operations than its wood was sold for.

“That means a $27 million taxpayer subsidy in some form or another,” she said.

The company spent $98 million on goods and services provided by Tasmanian companies over 2016-17 and provided forest products to 50 wood-processing customers.