New timber plant possible in South West

Barrabup Forest in Nannup.
Barrabup Forest in Nannup.

The Forest Product Commission have issued an expression of interest to industry to establish an integrated timber processing yard which could see an increase in South West native forests logged.

The proposal indicates that “native forest and plantation logs would be supplied to a central processing facility” which would be located close in the South West and operated by a third party.

The WA Forest Alliance have stated the proposal defies government policy by seeking to “massively increase” native forest logging.

The FPC’s native forest operation currently operate at the lower limit of the Forest Management Plan 2014. 

If the proposal for an integrated timber processing yard is successful the FPC will seek to increase production within the approved limit.

WA Forest Allicance convener Jess Beckerling said the old guard within the FPC was “hell bent on continued native forest logging.”

Ms Beckerling said up to 180,000 metres cubed of jarrah, marri and karri would be logged from the forests per year making it the largest buyer of native forest logs.

“The proposed increase would be catastrophic for endangered wildlife including the forest black cockatoos and must be rejected by the Environment Minister,” said Ms Beckerling.

“The McGowan Government’s platform on forests and its pre-election forest commitments are clear about the need to protect native forests, wildlife and biodiversity and to transition the timber industry to a sustainable base.”

Forestry Minister Dave Kelly said the government was committed to balancing the prevservation of the environment and a strong sustainable forest industry.

“Currently 62 per cent of native forest is protected in national parks and designated conservation areas and is not available to harvest, which includes more than 334,000 hectares of oldgrowth forest,” he said. 

“The FPC has access to 38 per cent of regrowth forest and annually harvests less than one per cent of this allocation.

“The timber industry supports about 6,000 WA jobs. The processing yard is designed to maximise value recovery from timber already available for harvest under the FMP.” 

South West MP Diane Evers said the FPC plan to set up a low-value timber processing yard in the South West would be a gross breach of the government’s pre-election rhetoric.

“The tender reveals that the facility will mainly derive low-end products including wood chips, firewood, charcoal, pellets and biomass energy from our jarrah, karri and marri forests,” she said. 

“In order to make the model financially viable, the FPC wants to increase logging of native trees by up to 50 per cent.

“This comes at a time when our native forests are manifestly worth more to community and the economy standing than logged.”