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Timber industry slams analysis on forests

Ending native forest harvesting on the NSW south coast would cost more than $600 million over the next 30 years, the timber industry has warned.

The South East Timber Association on Thursday said ending native forest logging, called for in a recent report, would strip $100 million in forest product sales out of the NSW south coast economies each year.

Association spokesman Peter Rutherford said a recent analysis showing a $60 million saving to NSW taxpayers from ending all native forest logging was “flawed and lacked any factual basis”.

Frontier Economics and climate expert Andrew Macintosh had estimated the saving in a report released last month.

Professor Macintosh modelled the economic value of the native hardwood forests when harvested and used for timber products compared with being left untouched as an environmental and recreational asset.

Ending native logging in the Southern and Eden areas of NSW would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost one million tonnes per year.

“The savings are predicated on the cessation of native forest harvesting from 1 January 2022 and would give affected families and businesses less than a month to adjust to the outputs of the fantasy world of this economic modelling,” Mr Rutherford said.

As the state forests would no longer be generating any revenue, management of the 415,000 hectares would have to be fully funded by taxpayers.

Latest figures show the taxpayer contribution to managing national parks is $50 per hectare higher than for state forests, Mr Rutherford said.

He estimated the cessation of harvesting would deliver an annual additional burden on taxpayers of $622.5 million over the 30 year analysis period.

The report also failed to mention there is more than 1.9 million hectares of state forest not subject to active timber harvesting in any year and up 7.3 million hectares of parks that are available for mountain biking and other recreational pursuits, the association said.

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