Solution to the Forestry Debate
Plantation pine and fast rotation blue gum plantations will not alone provide a suitable replacement for native forest sawlogs. Current plantation resources in Victoria will never be a replacement for quality hardwood end uses such as flooring, furniture and durable timber requirements like decking. Locking up native forests will only increase hardwood imports from Asian countries with far poorer forestry standards than Australia (which is currently happening). Radial Timber would love to purchase managed hardwood plantation sawlogs on a regular basis and would be prepared to pay a premium for them. Our mill has proven that the recovery quality, and therefore profit, from these logs is much higher than native forest. Our dilemma is that this resource is virtually unavailable in Victoria. Sure we have plenty of plantations, including 250, 000 hectares of pine and 200, 000 hectares of blue gum, which is great for structural timber and woodchip but sadly less than 5000 hectares of managed hardwood logs suitable for milling into appearance products. I have personally put our money where our mouth’s are and have instigated an ongoing establishment program of managed hardwood plantations for the future.
The government, environmental groups, investors and the timber industry need to embrace and encourage the establishment of these high value hardwood plantations as they are the answer and the missing link to the ongoing native forest debate.