Conservationists meeting over the weekend at Bellingen agreed to support calls by Australian Solar Timbers boss Douglas Head, for an inquiry into Wood Supply Agreements for public lands in North East NSW.
The North East Forest Alliance and the North Coast Environment Council have serious concerns that the people of NSW have been misled on the wood contract issue.
"When the then Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced the decision by the NSW Government in 2014 to buyback 50,000 cubic metres of sawlogs a year from Boral Timber for $8.55 million she said 'we have focused on reducing demand rather than trying to increase supply'", NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell said.
"Nowhere in the media announcements was the information that while the contracts had been reduced between 2015 to 2023, they had also been extended for a further 5 years, to 2028.
"The effect of this was that NSW Taxpayers paid $8.55 million to buy back 465,500 m3 of sawlogs (9.5 years at 50,000m3 pa) given to Boral for free in 2004, while also giving them commitments for another 580,000 m3 of sawlogs for free (5 years at 116,000m3 pa).
"The fact that the extension of the wood contracts was not made public either by the Minister or Boral in its statement to the ASX suggests that they were trying to hide it. Conservationists only recently became aware of this, when a senior bureaucrat mentioned it in conversation." Ms Russell said.
"There can be no doubt that Boral Timber have received favourable Wood Supply Agreements compared to other sawmillers in terms of species commitments and log sizes, leaving other sawmillers with their scraps" Dailan Pugh from the North East Forest Alliance said.
"The 2014 payout of $8.55 million to Boral Timber to buy-back annual commitments of 50,000 cubic metres of large sawlogs was primarily to reduce commitments down to actual yields, it will not stop over-logging.
"The 5 year extension to the WSA does not pass the pub test. Under the guise of a buyback, why did NSW taxpayers pay Boral $8.55 million, and then give the timber back, with a 25% bonus, for free?
"Because of this, in another 10 years it is likely that Boral will have a virtual monopoly on the dwindling supply of large sawlogs from public native forests, and again be owed millions for the Forestry Corporation's inability to supply what this Government again gave away.
"Since 1998 it has cost NSW taxpayers at least $12.9 million to buy back timber given in Wood Supply Agreements to sawmillers for free, because the Forestry Corporation inflated resource assessments and the Government gave away more timber than existed.
"The exorbitant payouts resulting from the gifting of public forest resources to private companies needs to be subject to public scrutiny. We support calls for an open public inquiry looking into the Forestry Corporation's inflated yield assessments and the Government's dodgy Wood Supply Agreements" Mr. Pugh said.