It is wise not to believe everything you read in the newspapers. Most of the time the stories are, at best, economical with the truth, spun faster than a flywheel, and sensationalized out of all recognition.
This week though I was taken by the “Hatchet job on native forest logging” headline in the Sun-Herald [18 May 2013].
The report claimed that the recently privatized Forestry Corporation of NSW was making an $8 million loss on revenue of $111 million from logging of native forest across NSW — equivalent to a $671 loss per hectare of trees cut.
If it is true that logging of native forest makes a financial loss then to continue such a destructive practice that was never fully able to account true environmental costs is madness. It would be stupidity that borders on negligence
The piece notes that plantation forestry is profitable [$32 million in 2010/11] and implied that the plantation estate effectively subsidizes the harvest of native forest.
Clearly the story is never just about profit. There are jobs at stake, impacts on rural economies to consider if production stopped, and significant flow on effects to the supply chain. Consumers would still want timber. Suppliers are likely to source their hardwood timber from overseas where controls of logging practices may not be as tight as they are in Australia.
And yet, operating the logging of native forest at a financial loss really does sound crazy.