Woodchipping

 

So what are woodchips?

Woodchips are the result of sending tree trunks up a conveyor belt into a gigantic shredder (that takes only 7 seconds to devour an entire log). Trees are quickly transformed into chips half the size of a matchbox, and are what is used to make paper for products like throw away drink cups in Japan or Reflex paper here in Oz. 

Woodchips, pulp and sawdust accounts for at least 91% of all products to come from our native forests. Yet we are told by VicForests that classic porkie that logging is all for the sawn timber for nice tables and chairs and the woodchips are just the waste. Sure. They say what a shame it is to leave it all laying on the ground. Well, if they hadn’t cut all those trees down to start with there’d have been no waste to have to ‘clean up’.


To add to this crime, the government have sold these logs for between 9c and $5 a tonne. If you or I wanted to go cut a trailer load of firewood for ourselves, they’d charge us $20! It seems that the Japanese buyers have an especially cosy deal. Nippon owns both the Reflex paper factory in the Latrobe Valley and the Eden export woodchip mill. Both have been responsible for systematically annihilating the Central Highland’s Mountain Ash forests and East Gippsland’s mixed forests for years.

VicForests - cutting forests, costs and corners

2 August 2007


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'.

Fair pricing hits the logging industry

1 June 2005

Fair prices? That's not fair!

When the new VicForests office took over the native forest logging 'shop', they came in with a nice new broom. Mill owners will have to compete for logs by bidding for them when their license runs out over the next few years. Meanwhile their current license for logs has had a 17-25% price increase. This has come as a real shock to some mills and we're hearing very loud squeals of protest. An increase in royalties is exactly what EEG has been asking for since the eighties.

As a result, well known grumpy old men and recipients of millions of dollars in subsidies and assistance, threaten to shut their eastern mill down - again. This cry of 'wolf' has been heard about twice a year, whenever things don't go their way. One particular mill owner usually ends up with another bucket of public money out of it, but hopefully not this time.

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