Buyers force Tasmanian woodchip mills to use only plantation timber

Andrre Draby 5/2/10

Woodchip stockpiles are mounting unsold on Tasmanian wharves as Japanese paper-making customers increasingly resist chips from native forests. The biggest exporter, Gunns, has imposed rolling closures at woodchip plants, and logging contractors and forest workers who supply them are idle in a growing crisis for the industry. The strong dollar and the global financial crisis were contributing to the slowdown in sales, said the chief executive of Gunns, Greg L’Estrange. But he said environmental certification for the chips was a concern, too. Perceptions had grown that hardwood chips came from native forests that were not well-managed, Mr L’Estrange said. ”Certainly the brand has been damaged.”