Forestry Tasmania 'cautiously optimistic' despite loss of AU$13.4M in 2012-13 fiscal year; chairman says restricted access to export infrastructure, high Australian dollar, affected sales, but new state laws provide 'clearer strategic direction'

HOBART, Australia , October 17, 2013 (press release) – Forestry Tasmania is cautiously optimistic about the future despite another difficult trading year in 2012-13.

Forestry Tasmania’s Stewardship Report for 2012/13 was tabled in State Parliament today.

Chairman Bob Annells said that despite a loss of $13.4 million after tax and deficit funding, the Board had noted that for the first time in many years, it was possible to plan for the future with a measure of certainty.

“During 2012/13, Forestry Tasmania continued to operate in a very challenging environment. Our sales were affected by a number of issues, including restricted access to export infrastructure and the high Australian dollar.

On the positive side, some significant decisions by the Government and Parliament resulting from the URS business review and the Tasmanian Forests Agreement process have given us a clearer strategic direction for the road ahead.

“The Bill to separate Forestry Tasmania’s wood production and reserve management functions will provide certainty as we work to return the business to profitability. The narrower scope of operations will allow us to continue to reduce overheads.

“It will also allow sharper focus on creating and selling higher value products such as Hardlam, as well as securing Forest Stewardship Council certification.

“The future Forestry Tasmania will be one that’s leaner and more responsive to the needs of its customers and stakeholders.”

“While there were some increases in high quality sawlog supply, overall, we saw a reduction in revenue from total forest sales of 28 per cent on the previous year.

Mr Annells acknowledged the support of the State Government as Forestry Tasmania adjusted to its new operating environment.

“Government underwriting of the business has undoubtedly enabled it to keep trading. We are making every effort to return to profitability, but deficit funding is likely to be needed for some years to come.”

Mr Annells noted that, despite the constrained operating environment, Forestry Tasmania has nevertheless performed extremely well on a wide range of sustainability indicators.

“For example, we recorded our best-ever safety performance, a 94 per cent success rate in our native forest regeneration, and a 13 per cent reduction in fossil fuel emissions.”

“These results show that Forestry Tasmania’s staff have consistently taken a diligent and professional approach to their work, even under the most difficult of circumstances.”

Key results 2012/13:

• Operating loss after tax and government deficit funding of $13.4 million
• Payments to contractors, suppliers and employees totalled $129.5 million
• The estimated final value to the Tasmanian economy of wood products produced from Tasmanian timber was $188 million
• Implementation of the Forestry Innovation Plan continued, with the official launch of Hardlam and the development of a wood pellet plant by Island Bioenergy
• Staff numbers reduced from 349 to 326 full-time equivalents
• FT staff worked a total of 40,000 hours on the State firefighting effort during last summer’s bushfire emergency
• FT achieved its best-ever safety result, with 4.46 lost time injuries per million hours worked

The 2012/13 Stewardship Report may be downloaded here.

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