The State Government’s strategy for greatly increased value-adding in the timber industry was released in Bunbury tonight by Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei.
The strategy will concentrate on furniture, flooring and other timber-based manufacturing.
It will require rationalisation within the existing hardwood timber industry and will encourage the integration of plantation timber into the overall output.
The strategy will promote more efficient use of harvested trees and will require higher levels of value adding in new timber contracts from 2004.
Government assistance will be available as the strategy unfolds and will include research and market development to expand the uses and markets for forest and plantation timbers.
Mr Omodei released the Forest Products Value Adding Strategy at a function in Bunbury, where the new Forests Products Commission was introduced to Government, local government, industry and community representatives.
The Minister said the sawmilling sector would be encouraged to install equipment to produce and handle the short lengths of timber required as components for furniture and other end uses, as well as improved processes for handling and drying timber for quality end products.
Moves to increase the percentage of harvested trees actually used could include deliveries to mills in the longest possible lengths, and encouraging the processing of residue into economically viable end uses.
Mills will be assisted in re-tooling, and other initiatives such as thinner saws, improved cutting patterns and better storage will help to reduce waste and provide high-grade outputs.
Contract requirements for value-adding were introduced by the Government in the 1994 10-year contracts for jarrah. In the 2004 contracts, the requirement will be increased from 50 per cent of sawn timber to 50 per cent for second grade logs, 70 per cent for first grade logs and 100 per cent for premium logs.
Targets will also be developed for karri in consultation with industry.
Rationalisation of existing milling, drying and manufacturing capacity and joint ventures between sawmillers and downstream manufacturers will be encouraged.
Rationalisation will be critical in the karri sawmill sector. The Government will encourage market forces to achieve rationalisation, with assistance from the business exit scheme.
Existing contract holders will be provided with anticipated 2004 allocations to allow market negotiations to take place.
The use of hardwood timbers for craftwood will continue to be important in the region and will be encouraged through granting commercial craftwood licences and auctions of specialty timbers.
In plantations, the Government is working to develop a market for the higher value logs from the maritime pine resource north of Perth. The development of such a market would provide the stimulus for investment in new plantations in agricultural areas.
Sawmills will also be encouraged to add bluegum and other hardwood plantation timbers to their native hard wood allocation. Research will be directed at selection of new species for hardwood plantation sawlogs.
The Government will also encourage greater industry involvement in research and development at the Timber Technology Centre.
“The Government has made its commitment to producing more value and more employment from smaller volumes of native hardwood,” Mr Omodei said.
“This strategy will deliver on that commitment.
“The Government has also made a massive commitment to the conservation of forests, with 86 per cent of old growth karri,
70 per cent of old growth jarrah and 100 per cent of old growth and two-tier karri/tingle permanently reserved from logging. These reserves are part of more than 1,000,000ha embracing all forest ecosystems.
“Those who say they want to protect old growth forests should begin to realise that it has already been done for them.
“The task now is to restructure and revitalise the industry for the benefit of South-West families and communities and for the State as a whole.
“The Forest Products Commission is undertaking that task and we are confident that we will achieve lasting results.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700