Sawmill owners in western New South Wales fear they are destroying the Pilliga forest in order to meet their timber contracts.
They say they are being forced to harvest increasingly younger trees — including saplings of the bare minimum size — which they say will ultimately devastate the forest.
The Baradine Sawmill signed wood supply agreements 10 years ago with the New South Wales Forestry Corporation.
The Forestry Corporation allocates areas to be logged based on its estimates of the timber in the forests, but it is up to the sawmills and their logging contractors to find and harvest what is out there.
This year the Baradine Sawmill was given a quota of 20,000 cubic metres of logs.
The sawmill claims there is not enough decent quality timber in the areas it has been assigned to meet the quota.
Baradine Sawmill co-owner Michael Paul said something needed to be done “as a matter of urgency”.
“There’s smaller and smaller patches available and you have to move equipment about 20 times a year which is very costly and you’re getting a smaller and smaller resource which is potentially taking away the future of the forest floor in the Pilliga,” he said.
The sawmill’s owners have turned to strange bedfellows for help — the Greens.
“When you talk to the operators [and] you talk to the mill owners, they’re every bit as much a victim of this as the forest,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said.
“Forests that shouldn’t be logged any more than every 40 to 110 years are being logged every 10 or 15 years and there’s nothing left.
“They know that this has destroyed the future, the financial future of their industry and they’re quite desperate — they want someone to stand up and make sure that our forests have a future.”
This story was also reported on ABC AM here.