Future Buyers Beware. Massive Plantation Shortfall on the Cards for Maryvale Pulp Mill.
January 23 2013: Plantations and Fire
March 30 2012: Recycled Pulp Mill In The Pipeline
September 9 2011: West Vic Timber Too Far For Australian Paper
April 6 2011: Rip 'Em Out. Tree Plantations Are Returned To Farmland
March 29 2009: Melbourne Age. Conservationists Slam Logging Backflip
Feb 09: Hancock plantations in the Strzelecki Ranges near Churchill go up in flames February 7 2009. 6025 hectares of E.Nitens (Shining Gum) were lost in the Churchill and Delburn fires. In a worse case scenario this could represent (if cut at 15 years of age and MAI of 20 -25) 1,800,000m3 and 2,260,000m3. (6 years and 7.5 year Hancock contract volumes). Hancock are Maryvale's major plantation source.
Dec 09: In April 2007 Hancock Victorian Plantations (major suppliers of plantation fibre to Maryvale) started ripping up 1000 hectares of bluegum plantations which had failed to grow. For more information see here. Growth rates for Hancock's bluegum plantations are between 35% to 70% less than predicted, probably leaving the pulpmill with a gaping supply shortfall in the near future. Hancock has ~9,500ha of bluegum plantations (most of which were planted by Australian Paper Plantations in the 1990's), some of which are being logged now, but most are planning to come on line in a couple of years. In a perfect world (MAI 22m3/ha/yr) these plantations if logged at 15 years of age would have supplied 3,135,000 m3 of timber enough to meet 10 years of Hancock's contract to Maryvale. Instead, the bluegums will only see a volume of between 1,097,250m3 and 2,194,500m3 (less if cut at a younger age) a shortfall of between 940,500m3 (3.135 Hancock contract years) 2,037,750m3 (6.8 Hancock contract years) on what would have been anticipated. To make up this shortfall Hancock will wipe out what is left of their plantations/ reforestation in the Strzelecki Ranges. Logging started on the bluegums in 2008, possibly meaning that as early as 2013 this bluegum resource will be exhausted. Any talk of Maryvale being solely reliant on locally grown plantation fibre by 2017 is highly unrealistic.
In Jan/Feb 2009 fires ripped through 2700ha of Hancock plantations west of Boolara in Gippsland. Approximately 1000ha were bluegum plantations. One week later, 6000 hectares of Hancock hardwood plantations were incinerated in the Strzelecki Ranges - a result of the Churchill fire. Many of the lost plantations were ready to be logged in approximately 2016, meaning that they were some of the oldest of Hancock's Nitens plantations. For maps see here.
These nitens plantations were anticipated to come on line, probably around the year 2016, as a supplement to the already mentioned bluegums. The impact of the fires may have eaten into Hancock's contractual obligations by a factor of between 6 to 8 years. These fires could create a shortfall of between 1.8 million and 2.26 million cubic metres of hardwood pulplogs, putting a major dent into Maryvale pulp mills hardwood supply. Total Hancock Shortfall due to failure of bluegums and fire losses in 2009: 2,740,500m3 - 4,297,750m3.
Macquarie & Great Southern Plantations
Macquarie and Midway are also unlikely to meet the predicted ~2000 hectares of new plantations required each year (5.5 ha per day) to meet demand for the new pulp mill. These news plantations were promised in 2005 as part of Maryvale's new pulp mill expansion plan. 2000 hectares of new plantations would be established each year until 2019. Macquarie were promising investors returns of 22 MAI, Great Southern 25 MAI. Plantings in the Stratford region in 2009 appear to have ceased with only 100ha established in 2008. The growth rates of the new bluegums at Stratford are largely unknown at present. New plantings by Great Southern in Gippsland may not appear large enough to meet upcoming shortfall. Great Southern announced a ceasation of bluegum establishment in September 2008 due to poor growth rates and by May 2009 Great Southern failed as a company.
Between 2005-09, Great Southern established just over 4000ha of hardwood plantations in Gippsland (Please Note: Great Southern collapsed in May 2009 and the company's assets could be up for sale. Hancock could be a potential buyer). At 25 MAI after 10 years this would have supplied ~1,000,000 cubic metres of woodchips. According to the Weekly Times Newspaper (Dec 08), Great Southern are recording Bluegum Growth rates of between 13.5 to 16 MAI. (54% to 64% of expected volume). This is closer to what would have been anticipated from between 2160ha and 2560ha of bluegums growing an 25MAI. According to the Weekly Times Newspaper (Apr 6 2011), 500ha of Great Southern former plantations in Gippsland have been sold as farming and lifestyle blocks, reducing ex Great Southern plantations to 3500ha.
Macquarie/Midway established ~3800ha in Gippsland between 2005-9. At an MAI of 22, after ten years these would have supplied 836,000 cubic metres of woodchips. If Macquarie Plantations are also growing at 54%-64% of expected volume this will total between 451,440 and 535,040 cubic metres (384,560 - 300,960 cubic metres less than predicted).
Between the two companies new bluegum plantations established in Gippsland amounted to ~7300ha of new hardwood plantations in 6 years (~1217 ha per year). However if you extrapolate a growth rate of 13.5 to 16 MAI, this in actual terms for both companies it is closer to only 3942ha to 4672ha of bluegums growing at 25MAI. (Between ~657ha per year - ~779ha per year - Well short of the expected 2000ha/yr.) Based on slowing down of new plantings and potential growth rates, we are currently looking at a scenario that less than half of the predicted plantations will be planted and those may be suffering from declines in yields. This already could lead to a shortfall of 3.9 million cubic metres by 2019.
Total possible 2019 shortall combining Hancock, ex Great Southern and Macquarie/Midway in Gippsland Bluegum Plantations: Currently between 6,600,000 cubic metres and 8,100,000 cubic metres. (That equates to a shortfall of between ~25,000 ha and ~30,000 ha of Bluegum Plantations if cut at 12 years age, with an MAI of 22). This means that to meet the Maryvale Mill conundrum from Gippsland grown plantations, a further 3,125 to 3,333ha will have to be grown each year.
May 31 2008: Strzelecki Rainforest Reserve to be gutted to supply Maryvale Pulp Mill with pulpwood for only two years
Sep 07: New Macquarie Bank/Midway plantations targeting Fernbank and Munro regions in East Gippsland. Macquarie and Midway are also wanting to establish bluegums at Ensay.
(PaperlinX are planning to rely on 20,000 hectares of newly bluegum plantations for all their fine paper hardwood needs by 2017. This could see them exit the native forest industry but what are the consequences for Gippsland communities having to live next door to these plantations? Approximately 2000 hectares of new bluegum plantations need to be established in the region each year until 2017 for this project to be viable).
NOTE: As of 31/7/01, Hancock Victorian Plantations Pty Ltd announced that it had agreed to acquire all the shares of Australian Paper Plantations Pty Ltd from PaperlinX for AUD $152 million. The property includes approximately 54,600 hectares of pine and eucalypt plantations and 26,900 hectares of non-plantation land including firebreaks, roads, other non-forested areas and native vegetation. This will be addition to the 165,000 hectares of plantations Hancock Timber Resource Group purchased from the Victorian State Government in November 1998. All photos taken before 31 July 2001 of Australian Paper Plantations will appear on this site. For plantation photos of ex- Australian Paper Plantations starting 1 August 2001, please go to the Hancock Watch website: www.hancockwatch.nfshost.com/
In 1996 an independent panel was established by the State Government planning minister after Amcor applied to clear 2,000 hectares of native vegetation for plantation establishment. The panel recommended that the clearing not go ahead. We believe that the reasons given by the panel were the right decisions. A full copy of the independent report is included here, but we have created links to the sections that we consider important on ecological grounds. We also believe that these same issues are relevant for all native forest logging, and should be applied as such.
It is also a desired policy of Australian paper and has been of Hancock Victorian plantations to plant Shining Gum and other exotic species, so that there will be no debate in the future about naturally regenerating forest and planted forest. Australian Paper should be planting indigenous species rather than introduced trees.
1. Habitat for Native Plants and Animals
Below are some photos showing typical mismanagement of plantations by Australian Paper
Jumbuk Road, May 2001. Total Destruction of wet forest and understorey along length of gully.
Jumbuk Road. Destruction of native vegetation. 2001.
Middle Creek Road, 2000. Removal of non-plantation veg.
Jumbuk Road. Destruction of gully vegetation
Below Jeerlang West Road. Herbicide application, April 2001. Are local residents and users of downstream water advised of spraying regimes by Australian Paper? Herbicide application most likely to be Velpar (Hexazinone). For more info. about herbicides used in plantation forestry go to: www.hancockwatch.nfshost.com