The addition of traditional log producing areas to the Conservation Reserve System will in some cases require the transport of timber from areas outside some sawmills’ traditional economic haulage zone. Log haulage assistance is being provided to established millers during a transition period of 5 years to assist them to adjust their businesses to new supply patterns. This initiative is designed to limit any sudden increase in transport costs to millers from increased log haulage distances required to continue appropriate supply levels.
Funding Commitments: NSW has allocated up to $1 million per annum over a five-year period.
4. Private Forest Management Unit
Within twelve months of signing this Agreement a private forest management unit will be established within State Forests to enhance the level of sustainability of commercial private forest management. The unit would be responsive to government policy commitments under the National Forest Policy Statement and the National Greenhouse Strategy.
The private forest management unit within Native Forests Division will provide policy and planning advice to private forest owners in the following areas:
Management - Advice on planning, Forest Practices, education, Commercial Viability, Visual management, Water Quality, Biodiversity Conservation, Financial;
Special Services – Timber Harvesting, Marketing, Training, Harvest Planning, Inventory;
Tree Growth – Advice on pruning, thinning, pest control, Shelterbelts, Native Forest and Plantation; and
Funding Commitment: $1,900,000 over five years, after which time it is expected the Unit would be self-funding.
Predicted employment benefit: Establishment of the Private Forest Unit will employ five persons for SFNSW.
5. Management of National Park Additions
NSW recognises a priority commitment to on-going and long term management of the new park additions. The positions outlined below reflect the on-going intensive visitor management needs of the reserves (around 5 million visits per annum), the ecologically sustainable forest management commitments arising from the RFA, and the long term works and infrastructure needed for the new reserve areas.
NSW has committed to capital investment of $15 million for 3 years for basic access, upgraded visitor facilities, boundary fencing, plant and equipment, and infrastructure improvements, e.g. works depots and safety works. NSW has made a further commitment to staff resources of $8 million for the 1999 – 2000 financial year and $10 million recurrent for subsequent years. This funding will employ approximately 90 positions for the first year, increasing to approximately 105 in subsequent years. The positions comprise field officers, senior field officers, rangers, park planners, fire, pest and neighbour relations officers across seven existing National Parks and Wildlife Service Districts at Armidale, Grafton, Dorrigo, Glen Innes, Lismore, Port Macquarie and Raymond Terrace. A new sub-district office at Walcha and filed operations group at Tenterfield are also planned.
Funding Commitment: A total of $43 million over 3 years with possible extensions to funding (subject to recurrent funding).
Predicted employment benefit: A total of 90 to 105 people over 3 years with possible extensions (subject to recurrent funding)
6. Aboriginal Employment Opportunities
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Officers
Four Aboriginal cultural heritage officers are to be employed equally between State Forests and National Parks and Wildlife Service, in the Upper North East and Lower North East Regions. These officers will give greater protection to cultural heritage and foster a close working partnership between the Aboriginal community and the Government.
Foremost in the tasks of the cultural heritage officers will be the surveying, care and maintenance of significant sites, permanent recording of their locations and consultation over protection mechanisms for these sites with management agencies. This initiative will encourage increased participation of the local Aboriginal community in forest management decisions.
The initiative also includes a number of traineeships to assist Aboriginal trainees gain land management skills. It is anticipated that this training should provide skills, which will enhance continued employment and promotional opportunities in the management of forested land.
Funding Commitment: $520 000 per annum over 5 years
Predicted employment benefit: 10 positions in total; 4 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage officers in total equally distributed between agencies and RFA regions, 6 traineeships over both Upper and Lower North East.
Ongoing inventory of existing timber resource is a fundamental requirement of the Regional Forest Agreement and will be used to support ongoing management by SFNSW of the timber production forest. Advantages include:
the ability to better model the growth of the forest through time,
a more accurate understanding of the timber resource which would enable industry to plan and develop downstream value-adding with more precision and certainty; and
a better knowledge of the timber resource which would enabling scheduling of operations and shifting of multi-aged forest crews to thinning systems;
A significant component of this initiative in its initial stages will involve the training of displaced timber workers in resource inventory techniques.
Funding Commitment: $500,000 per annum for 5 years.
Predicted employment benefit: 10 new positions for a period of five years for SFNSW.
8. Biomass Energy Generation and Charcoal Production
NSW will investigate opportunities for the use of sawmill residue, waste material from sawlog-driven logging operations and plantation thinning and harvesting in the Upper North East and Lower North East regions for potential use in biomass energy generation (or co-generation in existing power generating facilities) and for the production of charcoal for use in industrial processes. Negotiations concerning supply of resource for such ventures are currently taking place.
The recently introduced Natural Resources Legislation Amendment (Rural Environmental Services) Act (1999) NSW will, through amendments to the Mining Act (1992) NSW and Electricity Supply Act (1995) NSW, provide enhanced opportunities for investment and job creation in the emerging biomass electricity industry in NSW. In addition to facilitating the use of sawmill waste and forest residues for renewable energy generation, it will also allow electricity retailers to use carbon sequestration as an eligible activity to meet their licence conditions and explicitly includes biomass as a greenhouse reduction measure.
It is also predicted that the market for high-grade charcoal will increase in the future, given the requirements for steel-making and manufacture of silicon metals. Charcoal production can also utilise sawmill and forest wastes increasing local value adding within the timber industry.
Sustainable forest harvesting practices will not be compromised by the utilisation of forest wood residues and waste timber in both the above initiatives, these materials being already in existence as part of the sawlog-driven harvesting process. The markets would also provide an additional and competitive avenue for silvicultural thinnings.