Forest Corp posts loss

The softwood division of Forestry Corporation of NSW continues to prop up the loss making hardwood division according to the company’s annual report, the first since it was corporatized on January 1.

Overall the corporation reported an $8million drop in revenue to $310.3million with a total before tax profit of $19million.

Chief executive officer Nick Roberts attributed the drop to a strong Australian dollar reducing both prices and demand from international customers and an expected housing boom that never materialised.

In his report, he said the drop in dollars would have been worse without cuts in operating costs (three per cent) and overhead costs (19 per cent).

Staff numbers also decreased by 116 to 672.

Hardwood reported an $11m decline in revenue, with pulp production also down by 159,000 tonnes.

The corporation received 10 fines and no prosecutions from the Environment Protection Authority.

A positive outlook predicts further softwood growth, particularly as the supplies increase at the new Dongwha mill at Bombala, and a lift in the housing market.

The timber industry remains a major employer in the Eden area however Chipstop convener Harriett Swift has again called for the shutdown of the corporation’s native division.

“Without this loss, the Forestry Corporation could have paid a far bigger dividend to the State Government made possible by its profitable softwood plantations,” Ms Swift said.

“This money squandered on propping up native forest logging could have been put to good use providing health, education and other much needed services instead of destroying priceless environmental assets.”

Forests Corporation manages 230,000 hectares of softwood, 1.8m hectares of native forest and 35,000 hectares of hardwood plantation.

The timber industry contributes $1b to the New South Wales Economy annually.

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