Response to native forest destruction articles

Friday 18 Mar 2022

A story appearing in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald this week on the lack of profitability of NSW Forest Corporation native forest operations understandably raised the ire of the local industry. The headlines were,$20m loss: native forest logging last year cost NSW taxpayers $441 per hectare. The SMH article can be read here.

The following feedback has been sent by the South East Timber Association (SETMA) to a senior editor at the Age, with copies to the reporters, Lucy Cormack and Nick O'Malley.

I thought I would update you on another piece of reporting that seems to hint at the cosy relationship between certain Fairfax journalists, academics with a history of anti-native forest harvesting activism and in this case, the NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC), representing the activists who monetise media generated outrage.

It just so happens that today, the NCC has launched a parliamentary petition advocating for the close down of the native forest harvesting industry in NSW. The NCC advise in the promotion for the petition: "This morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported the dreadful financial loss native logging makes each year. That’s dollars wasted. But the catastrophic loss of trees and wildlife is incalculable."

I am emailing you, because the same article has also been published in the Age. Your reporters claim "The net cost of destroying more than 13,500 hectares of red gum, ironbark and cypress trees - largely for woodchip exports and firewood - was $6 million, while one-off recovery costs following the Black Summer bushfires soared to $14 million."

Harvesting and regeneration of Australian native forests is not destruction. If your reporters travelled to where they are helping to transfer the impact of our hardwood consumption, including locations such as central Sumatra, they might understand a little more as to what constitutes destruction of forests.

The claim that red gum, ironbark and cypress trees go to wood chip exports is WRONG and shows how little your reporters let the facts get in the way of an activist campaign. Your reporters then go on to reference the November 2021 report released by law professor Andrew Macintosh. A critique of the fundamentally flawed report that your journalists seem to be promoting is also attached.

The following quote from professor Macintosh seems to be very new, so it is great that your reporters have ready access to the academic part of the anti-native forest campaign network. Their story says: "He said all state forestry corporations around the country were in the same position: “bleeding cash and with no foreseeable way to turn around”.

“If this was a true commercial operation it would be closed. It is only surviving because the state government is essentially choosing to underwrite it for an increasingly small number of jobs,” Professor Macintosh said."

Consequently, I would appreciate it if Lucy or Nick could remind professor Macintosh that I am still waiting for a response to my emails to him on the 2nd and 9th November 2021. He does not seem to have any time or the courtesy of responding to anyone who can highlight the shortcomings in his campaign material.

Thank you for your time and understanding as to why, when it comes to any matter relating to native forest management, SETA members do not rely on any Fairfax reporter to deliver a balanced story, with a fair hearing to all stakeholders.

A more detailed critique of the Age & SMH articles published earlier this week was also supplied by SETA yesterday. Please see attached.

Source: South East Timber Association

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