State government purchase of ailing timber mill should complete transition out of native forests

The Andrew’s government purchase of the ailing Heyfield timber mill should now complete the transition out of native forests into plantations, environment group Friends of the Earth has said.  

“The purchase of the mill gives the government an opportunity to decisively act to protect forests and prevent the extinction of endangered wildlife. The next step is to urgently complete the transition of the logging industry out of native forests and into plantations and create the Great Forest National Park,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Ed Hill.

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Recent logging within the proposed Great Forest National Park - Chris Taylor

“A recent study by the Australian National University shows the economic value of the Central Highlands forests, where the Heyfield mill’s wood comes from, is immense. The forests within the proposed Great Forest National Park add $310 million of economic value to the state's water supply and $260 million to tourism, while the unsustainable native logging industry is worth just $12 million. If Labor fully understood the value of these forests for water, tourism, biodiversity and carbon storage the last thing they would do is spend tens of millions of tax payer’s money on buying an unsustainable native forest timber mill,” said Ed Hill.

“The Heyfield timber mill processes wood from Mountain Ash forests listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation and Nature. Labor will now log the endangered timber, sell the endangered timber and process the endangered timber,” said Ed Hill. 

“The Victorian environment department has acknowledged that by 2030 the ‘1939 Ash forests’, the primary source of timber for the Heyfield mill, will be exhausted[1]. The Andrew’s government must urgently protect what remains of the once mighty Ash forests before they are logged out of existence.”

“Labor’s Forest industry Taksforce was supposed to balance environmental conservation with the long term needs of a logging industry in crisis that cannot continue with business as usual. But the government’s decision to buy the mill allows the logging industry to continue to clearfell critically endangered forests.”

 “The Andrews government has delivered continuous demands from the industry, from new contracts for native wood from East Gippsland’s old growth forests to spending millions on the Heyfield mill that destroys critically endangered mountain ash. As yet the government has done nothing to protect our forests – the government has sat on it hands in response to public outrage over clearfelling endangered wildlife, dwindling water supplies, and impacts on tourism and agriculture.” 

“The overwhelming majority of Victorians want to see native forests and wildlife protected from logging, 93% of voters want our native forest managed as places for wildlife, recreation, tourism and carbon storage. By purchasing the Heyfield mill, the government has given itself the power to shift the industry from its current footing onto a sustainable basis. As it transitions the industry out of native forests it must also get on with the job of creating the Great Forest National Park.”

 

For comment contact Ed Hill – 0414 199 645



[1] Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, July 2017, A review of the effectiveness and impact

of establishing timber harvesting exclusion zones around Leadbeater's Possum colonies.