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SA’s Forest Future in Doubt

The future of the Mid North pine plantations is in doubt after the release of a report on their future was released by the State Government earlier this month. Source: The Flinders News

“The government is aware of how important these plantations are, particularly from an economic perspective, to the local community,” said Minister for Forests Leon Bignell.

“What we want to do now is to have discussions with people who live and work in the Mid North before making a decision about what the best options are for the future.”

The report recommends that operations at the Mid North plantation are sustained until the end of the 2017-18 financial year, which would allow enough time to “clean up the debris remaining after the fires, fence the property, for ForestrySA to identify another use for the property, and to conclude a transfer of management and responsibilities”.

According to the report, around 80% of the total plantation area was lost in the Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forests fires means it would require an “almost complete reinvestment to rebuild the asset, while enduring a prolonged period with no income”.

The report said if the forestry operations were to continue, it would result in a “very large negative” net present value of $11.4 million for the future life of the project.

Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan disagreed with the report’s recommendations and said there is a “strong economic argument for replanting”.

He said the negative $11.4m figure would be over 44 years, and according to a Regional Development Australia document, the benefits of the Morgan Sawmill to the community are worth $9.4m every year.

He said the negative NPV would almost be made back within a year.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the report only considered the money ForestrySA made by selling timber, not the overall benefit of the industry to the community.

He said it was a chance for the state government to prove “they fully understand the benefits to the community beyond ForestrySA losing $11.4m over 44 years.”

He said if the government chose not to replant the forest it would be denying the local community the well-documented social benefits.