THE debate between the sawlog industry and environmentalists looks set to re-ignite over recommendations in a NSW upper house inquiry released last week.
The inquiry, dominated by the Shooters Party and the Nationals recommended logging in some national parks to maintain valuable sawlog production.
This week Greens MP David Shoebridge released data to say that Forests NSW runs at a loss and any increase in production will hit ratepayers' hip pockets.
Managing director of Hurford Hardwood, Andrew Hurford, said yesterday that Mr Shoebridge's comments needed to be put into context.
"Forestry NSW manages an enormous area relative to what is being harvested each year. National parks lose more money than forests but we don't point that out," he said.
"Forests NSW manages for a range of outcomes - they have to maintain biodiversity and public expectations."
He said the future of the industry relied on plantations, but it also needed native forests for quality timber.
Overseas competition, particularly from Vietnam, where eucalypt plantations thrive, has cruelled the Australian woodchip industry.
For exposed timber, such as floorboards and cabinetry, there is no substitute for native forests, "as long as they are managed sustainably".
North East Forests Alliance's Dailan Pugh said he feared a backlash against the creation of national parks and flora reserves now that quality timber was growing more scarce in state forests.
He said the NSW reserve system before NEFA's protests in the 1990s was the poorest in the country, particularly on the North Coast.
The national reserve cri- teria, finalised by the Howard Government in 1997, has yet to be met despite the introduction of numerous new national parks, Mr Pugh said.
"The real issue is that the regional forest agreement of 1998 overcommitted sawlog production and the time is fast approaching when the industry will hit a cliff," he said.
He said the necessary reduction in sawlog availability after 2023 will see at least a 40% drop in production from state-managed native forests.
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