A rebound in the demand for sawn timber means that sawmillers need timber from planned harvesting in the Upper Florentine Valley, Forest Manager Steve Whiteley said today.
“The harvesting operations in the coupe were put on hold earlier this year when demand for sawlogs slowed.
“In the past four months, demand has risen dramatically, eliminating the sawlog stockpile to the point where there is now a shortage of good quality logs.
“Forestry is one of Tasmania’s key industries, and part of the solution to the Global Financial Crisis. Demand for timber is improving as people recognise the value of timber in the carbon economy.
“Protest action in the Upper Florentine is aimed at preventing sawmillers from accessing logs, at a time when forestry promises to deliver significant benefits to the economy.
“With 92% of the Tasmanian community against illegal protest, it is clear that Still Wild Still Threatened has little support for this stance.
“The timber from this coupe is worth $2m to the Tasmanian economy. Sawlogs from the coupe will supply local sawmills, thereby providing a direct boost to the Derwent Valley economy.
“This coupe has a high proportion of sawlogs, which will be turned into valuable wood products that will continue to store carbon for decades.”
Whiteley said Camp Florentine activists had once again put the safety of Forestry Tasmania staff and contractors at risk.
“Activists have vandalised roads by digging holes and installing spikes, have blocked culverts and cemented car bodies on state forest. This is not peaceful protest, but the actions of an extreme environmental group.
“I am sure Tasmanians will remember the footage showing tonnes of rubbish and extensive environmental damage at Camp Florentine last summer. It was essential that action be taken to prevent this newer camp from degenerating into similar conditions.
“The facts of Forestry Tasmania’s management of this area speak for themselves. This year, we plan to harvest just 25ha of a 50ha coupe. The timber is being harvested to meet market conditions.
“The area will be harvested using a variable retention technique that we have developed as an alternative to clearfelling, and will be regrown as native forest.
“It should also be remembered that 90% of the Upper Florentine is either in reserves or unavailable for harvesting.”
Whiteley reiterated that Forestry Tasmania supported the right of activists to make their point safely and legally.
“However, we believe that a strong stand should be taken against those who choose to break the law.”