Timber processors on the flood-affected NSW North Coast have been given certainty to invest in their businesses and equipment, following the NSW Nationals in the state government’s announcement of a five-year extension to existing wood supply agreements.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the additional five-year deal has aligned the expiry date for all timber supply contracts right across the region, and confirmed the government’s support for the hardwood timber sector.
“Most agreements on the North Coast were due to end in 2023, while others run through to 2028, but now these critical timber mills have all been put on the same timeline to help provide investment and business certainty,” Mr Toole said.
“The timber industry plays a critical role on the North Coast and employs hundreds of locals, so extending the current agreements will help future-proof local processors, whether they’re a small family business or a larger operator,” Mr Toole said.
“This brings immediate relief to the local industry, which generates about $349 million each year, and is a timely manufacturing boost for the hardwood products that are processed here.”
Nationals Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said timber is the ultimate renewable product, and it is critical for governments to nurture the industry so we can keep using it well into the future.
“Timber supports our towns, and the stock grown on the north coast goes towards essential materials that we use every day, including power poles, wharf piles, bridge decking, flooring and transport pallets,” Mr Saunders said.
“Under the Regional Forest Agreements, NSW has committed to growing and re-growing timber in an environmentally responsible manner, to meet community demand in a sustainable way.
Wood is sold under long-term agreements because processing requires specialised facilities, equipment and training. When existing agreements expire, market processes are undertaken to ensure the forests can provide the amount of timber required. Timber supply is forecast over a 100-year period, but must be reviewed every five years.
Forestry Corporation carried out an additional review ahead of schedule, to take into account the impact of the 2019-20 fires.
“While the fires were widespread, the good news is that many native species are resilient to fire, and the recent heavy rains have seen North Coast forests grow and recover well,” Mr Saunders said.
“We’re lucky enough to have been able to maintain solid timber stocks to fulfill the extended agreements and beyond.”