Investment in plantation forests

SOME of the country’s largest timber companies may have collapsed over the past year, but the State Government yesterday invested in more than 3000 hectares of plantations on the North Coast.

Minister for Forest Resources Ian Macdonald said the Government would buy about 7000 hectares across the State from TEPCO Forests Australia.

He said the acquisition would help Forest NSW build on its large investment in carbon and timber.

“Forest NSW is a government- trading enterprise, and this investment demonstrates the government’s commitment to the timber industry in NSW and the many jobs that depend upon it,” he said.

“Forest NSW will manage the forests, which will provide many benefits including carbon sequestration and timber, and providing valuable regional employment.”

The plantations on the North Coast, a mix of eucalypt and southern pine, are mostly located west of Kyogle, around Casino and Grafton and near the Queensland border.

The remaining 4000 hectares are softwood plantations in the State’s south-west and central west slopes.

The government would not say how much it had paid for the plantations, citing commercial sensitivity.

Mr Macdonald said the age of the plantation trees complemented Forests NSW’s existing plantations and would fill some gaps in future wood supply.

He said all the plantations adjoined existing state forests and were well-supported by fire protection and road infrastructure.

The major investment comes after the recent collapse of Forest Enterprise Australia and retrenchment of 10 staff from its Lismore office, as well as Great Southern and Timbercorp.

The future of about 20-odd other FEA plantation workers is still under a cloud after its parent company Forest Enterprise Australia went into receivership earlier this month.

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