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Tuesday, 23 August 1994
Page: 102

(Question No. 841)

Senator Bell asked the Minister representing the Minister for Resources, upon notice, on 7 December 1993:

  (1) What proportion of the resources intended for the proposed Hampshire woodchip export facility in northern Tasmania is intended to be derived from: (a) Australian Pulp and Paper Mills freehold; and (b) other concession areas.

  (2) What arrangements have been made for other operators to gain access to and recover sawlogs, sawlog flitches and minor species from these areas.

  (3) Is the site of the proposed woodchip mill at Hampshire zoned industrial, rural or rural/residential.

  (4) What are the areas of old growth forest from (a) freehold; and (b) concession areas that are intended to be harvested for the proposed mill.

  (5) Is APPM required to replant old growth forest areas that are harvested with plantation forests as part of their woodchip export licence; if so, how are minor species to be re-generated to cater for long-term sustainable yield for the furniture and craft industries.

  (6) Are the measures of sawlog recovery rate from forest timber in Tasmania the same as Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian measures.

  (7) Are woodchips from minor species allowed to be exported under the Commonwealth's licence conditions.

  (8) What is the comparative economic benefit of using eucalypt non-sawlog material (that is, excluding minor species for craft and furniture making) for: (a) woodchips; (b) ethanol production; and (c) firewood, from the north west coast of Tasmania.

Senator Collins —The Minister for Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) Over 80% of the pulplog intake for the Hampshire woodchip mill under construction by North Forest Products—formerly Associated Pulp and Paper Mills—is intended to come from the company's own forests. About 15% of pulplogs will come from Crown forests currently designated for wood production, while 2% of pulplogs will come from private land not owned by the company.

  (2) Harvesting rights for Crown forest are allocated by the Tasmanian Forestry Commission.

  (3) The Development Proposal and Environmental Management Plan prepared by North Forest Products to meet State Government requirements notes that the woodchip mill is a `discretionary use' within the zone described as `Zone Number 1—Rural' under the Burnie Interim Planning Order Number 1 1992.

  (4) North Forests Products has Commonwealth approval to export up to 170 000 tonnes of woodchips through Burnie following the construction of the Hampshire mill. These woodchips are currently exported through Longreach and are within the company's current woodchip licence of 1 878 000 tonnes per year. Accordingly the 170 000 tonnes approved for the Hampshire mill will not involve additional harvesting beyond currently approved operations. The precise extent and location of areas of old growth, in concession areas or freehold, that are intended to supply pulpwood to the mill will vary depending on the mix of old growth and regrowth, and plantations to be accessed each year. The Forestry Commission produces three year wood production plans which detail the planned Crown land coupes to be harvested over the plan period. The logs produced from harvesting these coupes of sawlog quality will be used for local sawn timber production, whilst the lower quality logs will be taken as pulpwood to the Hampshire mill or other pulpwood users. All harvesting and road construction operations, including those on private land, must, by State legislation, comply with the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code.

  (5) Crown forests which supply North Forest Products are regenerated with local provenance eucalypt seed. The company's freehold forests have a long history of logging and are being largely replaced by eucalypts specially bred to yield high quality pulp. The export licence requires the planting of at least one hectare of land for every 1000 tonnes of woodchips exported by the company each year from private land.

  (6) Sawlog recovery rates vary depending on the productivity of each forest. That variation is a consequence of factors such as climate, soil and past forest management. As the value of sawlogs is much higher than that of pulplogs there is an economic incentive for managers of wood production forests to maximise sawlog recovery.

  (7) All sawlogs of the minor species are sold to sawmills. Pulplogs of minor species are first offered for sale on the local market, particularly with the craft industry in mind. Where there is no domestic demand for these logs, they are sold for chipping and may be exported under Commonwealth licence.

  (8) I am not aware of any study of the comparative economic benefits of woodchip, ethanol and firewood production from pulpwood from the north west coast of Tasmania. However, paper production is likely to be the highest value attainable for most of the eucalypt pulpwood from Tasmania's north west production forests. The technology for the use of waste wood in ethanol production is still under development. Timber for firewood is a major energy source in Tasmania, particularly for households. The market for firewood from the north west coast is likely to be limited because of the relatively small local population and the high cost of transporting the wood over significant distances.