The trees were cut down, the profits of timber exporters have been rising strongly, yet the losses of VicForests are spiralling. What’s the scam?
The last time VicForests made a profit from the sale of Victoria’s native forests was in 2016, booking just over $2 million. Since then, VicForests’ losses have quadrupled from $5 to nearly $20 million in the past four years with the costs of logging operations exceeding the sale of forest products by greater margins each succeeding year.
Yet timber is clearly a profitable business. Searches of the financial statements of Allied Natural Wood Exports, which buys wood from VicForests, show revenues growing from $19 million in 2016 to over $65 million in the company’s latest financial statement from 2019, with close to $20 million cash profit coming through the door.
VicForests’ balance sheet is only helped by “other income from Victorian government entities”, which this year exceeded $18 million. These payments are largely grants for VicForests’ role in the Leadbeater’s possum recovery program … which VicForests actively flouts. This transfer of wealth from the public to the forestry industry doesn’t even achieve the protection of threatened species which it claims.
Looking at the the balance sheet, Vicforests is a loss-making enterprise. Yet the losses it drives in Australia’s biodiversity are equally significant. To make matters worse, logging adds significantly to the fire burden in native forests, making rural communities less safe.
Natasha graduated with an undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Cambridge in June 2019 and is currently studying a Master of Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney.