Media Releases - 17 March 2017

Heyfield wood supply problematic, no matter who owns sawmill

  • Sawmill uses Mountain Ash forests that are critically endangered
  • Forests are in need of protection
  • Governments and mills owners knew of looming wood supply issues

Reports that the Victorian Government may buy the Heyfield timber mill do not fix the problems with the mill’s wood supply.

“Regardless of who owns or manages the Heyfield timber mill, there are still practical problems with the wood supply that don’t change,” said Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager  Amelia Young.

“The mill currently uses wood from the endangered Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands. Just 1.2 per cent of the Mountain Ash forest is old-growth. The mill uses wood from endangered species habitat, and from Melbourne’s drinking water supply catchments.

“Ongoing logging will be catastrophic for the region, affecting businesses in agriculture and tourism.

“These forests should be protected, preventing wildlife extinction, creating hundreds of new, full-time jobs, and returning millions to the state’s economy.

“Victorians want logging industry reform, and forests protected in the Great Forest National Park.”

“Solutions that protect the forest and put the logging industry on a sustainable basis aren’t easy but must be found.”

In 2009 bushfires burnt 72,000 hectares of the Ash forest, significantly reducing the amount available for the logging industry to operate in.

“It’s no good pretending that somewhere in the Central Highlands there is a yet undiscovered treasure trove of wood to keep business as usual for another generation.”

The writing has been on the wall for years and mills should have been making the transition to plantation timber:

In 2009 large stands of timber were burnt out in the Black Saturday bushfires; VicForests’ Resource Outlook from 2013 stated sawlog supply would significantly decrease in 2017-18 (assuming no further bushfires). “VicForests knew of the looming reduction in wood supply,” Ms Young said. “Successive Victorian Governments knew. And the big timber mills, such as the Heyfield sawmill, knew.”

“Victorians need progressive solutions that protect the forest, open up new employment opportunities and put the industry on a firm and sustainable footing. This will take good will and innovative thinking, but this the only alternative we all have.”

More information

For further comment, please contact Wilderness Society Victoria Campaign Manager Amelia Young on 0404 074 577. For more information, please contact Wilderness Society Media Adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168.