Study on ending native forest harvesting questioned

Friday 10 Dec 2021

A study by Frontier Economics and Professor Andrew Macintosh, from the Australian National University, estimates that NSW taxpayers would be better off by approximately AU$62 million over the next 30 years if harvesting of native timber was stopped.

Professor Macintosh said the study showed native forests in the state's south-east would be better left untouched and believed one of the major benefits would be carbon abatement. "One of those benefits is the possibility of putting some of the money associated with carbon credits, if they are sold, into supporting the expansion of the plantation estate," he said.

"There is a great demand for plantation wood at the moment, so putting some of those resources into subsiding the expansion of the plantation estate would provide employment for the region." The study weighs up the economic, social and environmental benefits of ending logging against Forestry Corporation profits and local employment.

Other states are already making a move away from logging — Western Australia is set to ban native forest logging under a state budget plan unveiled in September and Victoria will phase the practice out over the next decade. Professor Macintosh said that was not surprising.

"State forest agencies across the nation haven't really turned much of a profit – if a profit at all – since about 2010," he said. "I think in the most recent years you're talking about a couple of hundred thousand dollars' profit."

Claim numbers 'undercooked'

Former Institute of Foresters president Rob de Fegely said Professor Macintosh's report was not particularly "well founded" or "well researched. It would appear from reading that report that he's certainly not trained in forestry or forest management," Mr de Fegely said. "So, he makes some basic mistakes in how they've undertaken the analysis."

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A link to the study can be found here.

Further coverage on this story can be read here.

Commentary by the South East Timber Association on key elements of the ANU law Professor Andrew Macintosh and Frontier Economics report is also attached here for your information.

Source: SMH, SETA

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