NSW Government makes biggest acquisition of forestry in decades to boost softwood production

In February 21, 2017

(AU) – The New South Wales Government is not ruling out further expansion of its forestry business after making its biggest acquisition since the 1980s.

The Forestry Corporation has bought 7,000 hectares of pine plantation and plantable land near the timber towns of Oberon, Tumut and Tumbarumba.

The state-owned corporation already manages about 220,000 hectares of softwood plantations as part of the $1.92 million industry.

New Lands and Forestry Minister Paul Toole made the announcement on Wednesday near Oberon, which falls within his local electorate of Bathurst and has the second-highest number of workers in the NSW forestry industry.

Locally in Oberon, the timber industry makes up about 20 per cent of the region’s workforce, employing about 500 people.

Mr Toole said the acquisition, which was the equivalent of about 13,000 football fields, would help secure the industry.

“Seven thousand hectares is additional land that we’re going to see used for timber supply into the future.

“I believe this is the first step. I believe there will be other private plantations that will be acquired here in the state.”

Forestry Corporation regional manager Jason Molkentin said improvements in profitability and a reduction in debt had made the purchase possible.

“We have a significant plantation estate in New South Wales, but this is a significant supplementation of that resource,” Mr Molkentin said.

“Our improved financial position over the last five years has certainly allowed us to be in a position to purchase acquisitions when they’re available.”

Local councils concerned about amount of unrateable land

Several regional councils hosting state-owned plantations have previously raised concerns about their inability to generate revenue, due to large swathes of land being unrateable.

Up to 50 per cent of the land in Oberon Council is unrateable, but Mr Toole said the most recent acquisition would not affect the council’s rate base.

He said councils would continue to receive rates from any new land acquired by the state-owned corporation.

“What I want to do is to make sure that any private land holdings that come across to the Forestry Corporation, they continue to remain rateable land,” he said.

“There’ll be no impact on the existing rates that we see on private holdings already that may go under Forestry Corporation.”

NSW Government makes biggest acquisition of forestry in decades to boost softwood production by Gavin Coote.  Available from <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-08/nsw-govt-makes-biggest-acquisition-of-forestry-in-decades/8252390> [Feb 08, 2017]