Up to one third of Tasmania’s small forestry businesses are predicted to fold in the next few months.
The Forest Contractors Association says rolling stoppages at Gunns’ woodchip mills have put extra pressure on many of the state’s 115 timber harvesters who are already operating on thin margins.
A fortnight ago the timber company said it would temporarily close its mills at Triabunna, Bell Bay and Hampshire during February and March as part of normal operations.
Association Chief Executive Ferdie Kroon says 20 to 30 per cent of contractors had been expected to leave the industry within the next few years but the global financial crisis has brought that forward.
“We’re getting calls daily from members that are very much marginal,” Mr Kroon said. “We’re referring them to institutions like the rural financial counselling service.”
“The current economic circumstance is the death knell for some of these businesses.”
The Association wants the Tasmanian Government to help contractors re-organise and adjust to the industry uncertainty and growing costs.