'Crazy' logging of green timber for China

ForestrySA has been accused of putting timber industry jobs at risk by selling partly-burnt logs to China.

The pine logs are from Wirrabara Forest which was almost wiped out by the month-long Bangor blaze in the Flinders Ranges.

The Opposition fears 44 jobs at the Morgan Sawmill in Jamestown are threatened by an alleged lack of forward planning involved in the sale of the timber which is still green and would provide supplies for the sawmill into the future.

“To cut down trees that are not dead is just crazy,” said Opposition forestry spokesman David Ridgway yesterday. “I don’t want any log to leave that area that is potentially green and might live another year or two and could be used by the sawmill to provide employment into the future.”

Meanwhile, he said burnt logs were being exported to China, a situation described by the sawmill as general knowledge, but not confirmed by the caretaker State Labor government or forestry.

Mr Ridgway said the burnt logs should be removed first then authorities should wait to see which other trees died.

Edward Morgan, of the sawmill, said the practice of selling partly-burnt logs that were still green was “stupid”. He said his company had failed to reach agreement with forestry.

“The reason is that forestry demands 40 percent more for the burnt Wirrabara Forest logs than for the burnt Bundaleer Forest logs,” he said.

“It just doesn’t make sense. How can we pay an extra $400,000 a year?

“The sawmill has asked forestry to preserve some trees that are not fully burnt.”

A forestry spokeswoman said her organisation was assessing the burnt area so that salvage harvest could begin.  

“It is business as usual for forestry and contractors who are focusing on clearing and salvage operations,” she said.

“Forestry is reviewing the plantation to develop a strategy for the estate. This is expected to take a number of months to complete and will identify log supply options for the future.”

When Mr Ridgway’s and Mr Morgan’s concerns were put to the organisation, it responded that ForestrySA is continuing to work through supply issues via the strategic review process which will take some time to complete. 

“Perhaps when this is done, an interview may be appropriate,” it said.