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Tasmania’s Logging Industry Cut Down to Size

By Ian Lowe

A study has found that Tasmania’s forestry industry “is not economically viable”.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Forestry talks in Tasmania have provoked two Canberra observers to calculate the cost to the community of subsidising the logging of native forests. Richard Denniss, who heads the Australia Institute, and Andrew Macintosh of the Australian National University’s Centre for Environmental Law, have concluded that Forestry Tasmania “is not economically viable”.

The figures are devastating. The semi-independent agency has received $100 million in subsidies from the Commonwealth government in the past 6 years but has still been losing about $100 million per year and has an unfunded superannuation liability of another $100 million. The state government recently advanced the agency $100 million to keep it afloat.

Macintosh and Denniss suggest that the reason for the continued public support is a perception that native forest logging is crucial for Tasmania’s economy. A recent Australia Institute poll confirms that theory. Those surveyed in Tasmania thought, on average, that forestry accounted for about 30% of the state’s economic activity and about 20% of its workforce. The actual figures are about 3% and 0.5%, respectively!

But these are the figures for the entire industry, including plantations that account for about half the production. This means, as the report put it, that logging of native forests is “little more than a footnote in the state economic...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.