Loggers cut down koala park report, claiming it'll cost jobs
Brandishing its own economic study into the Great Koala National Park, a timber industry group has criticised a recent report into its economic effects.
The Australian Forest Products Association says the establishment of the GKNP could cost the state thousands of jobs, arguing the new report "grossly underestimates" the cost of shutting down timber mills on the North Coast.
Citing its own study undertaken by Ernst and Young in 2019, AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said shutting down the timber industry in favour of the GKNP would be "disastrous" for local communities and the NSW economy.
"The flawed report fails to recognise their plan would mean the closure of the native forestry industry on the North Coast, and with it thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in our regions," he said.
The bold GKNP plan involves converting 175,000 hectares of State Forests to National Parks.
The Newcastle University report into the economic and environmental impacts of the GKNP found there would be significant financial benefits, with Professor Roberta Ryan putting the number of extra full-time jobs at more than 9,800 across 15 years.
The native forestry industry directly employs 4,735 people in the North Coast Forestry Area which covers an area from just north of Sydney, out to Armidale and north to the Queensland border.
While the impact on forestry was taken into account, the report suggested total job losses would be lower than the 1395 put forward in the Ernst and Young study.
It estimated between 600-750 "direct state forest native logging FTEs" would be impacted over 10 years, working on the premise that not all North Coast forestry operations would cease as a result of the park's establishment.
The report noted that Wood Supply Agreements would have to be purchased from up to ten timber mills across the North Coast given the likelihood they received timber from State Forests.
The affected mills include Aquafern, M&B Dyer and Newville Hardwoods in Nambucca Shire; Thora Sawmill in Bellingen Shire; Adams Sawmill, Leonard Sawmill and Coffs Harbour Hardwoods in Coffs Harbour and Boral Timber in the Clarence Valley.
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The "upper-bound" cost of buying back the WSAs amounted to $28.9 million, assuming all mills sourced 100 per cent of their logs from the GKNP State Forests.
A scaled "lower-bound" cost was between $9.2 and $11.2 million.
"It is assumed that the NSW Government would provide an industry transition support package, valued at $169 million over the 10-year transition period," the report states.
"This is to support the state forest native logging industry and communities with retraining and related initiatives."