What About Jobs
Most forestry jobs are in the plantation sector. Softwood plantations provide the most jobs and hardwood plantations have increased significantly in recent years – so much so that hardwood plantations can provide 3.5 million cubic metres of eucalypt hardwood a year. That’s almost three times the total amount currently taken from our public native forests!
Businesses in the plantation sector have invested money and time into growing trees that are just right for paper manufacture but the availability of subsidised native forest woodpulp to a few companies undercuts the plantation sector and therefore threatens plantation jobs.
The housing and construction industries have already taken advantage of the availability of plantation wood and shifted to plantation products. It is possible for paper companies to do this too.
Australian Paper could produce Reflex paper using plantation wood from the Green Triangle in Western Victoria – an area where there is an ample supply of plantation wood. There are already freight rail lines between the plantations and the Reflex paper mill in Maryvale.
The Maryvale mill is an important employer for the Central Gippsland region. If Australian Paper uses plantation wood and increases the use of recycled fibre, the mill can stay open, protecting jobs for the long term.
Many more jobs could also be created if our tax dollars, that currently subsidise the woodchipping of native forests, were redirected to improve processing technology in the plantation sector. This would allow the plantation sector to take advantage of export markets in the growing Asian economy.
Let’s use Victoria’s plantations for what they do best – providing timber and providing jobs. That way, we can let our native forests do what they do best – provide homes for wildlife, supply us with clean water and help reduce the effects of dangerous climate change by safely storing carbon.