After three years as the new semi-corporate arm of the government logging agency, VicForests was going down the economic gurgler.
For the first two years after its creation, VicForests was given an easy run with DSE picking up the tab for many costs, but year three was to see it 'off the dole' and making a profit. To balance their books we saw Vic-Forests planning to cut corners and costs. Unfortunately, this also meant cutting their obligations to look after public lands.
VicForests oversees the logging of public forests and is meant to make a profit. In the past, forest agencies (of various names) have relied on hand-outs to operate. Now VicForests' plans to reduce overheads to stay in business could cost the environment dearly.
Auctioning sawlogs brings in some revenue, especially now it asks for a half-decent price for them. But sawmills aren't needing as many logs these days as there is decreasing demand for hardwood timber. However, thousands of tonnes of smoke-damaged ash forests were being knocked down as 'salvage' at ten times the normal rate. Solid logs were split to sell as woodchip fodder at a reduced price. Despite this 'fire sale', the bills were still mounting.
One of those bills was for $2 million in roading charges. DSE build and maintain logging roads then send the bill to VicForests. VicForests denies this is an unpaid debt, and seemed to say it was just a 'dispute over access fees'.