THE cost of closing working forests in favour of National Parks is valued at about $9000 per hectare to the local economy, according to Mathoura sawmiller Chris Crump.
The Mathoura Red Gum Sawmills owner presented the figure in an information pack to One Nation’s NSW Senator Brian Burston during his recent visit to the area.
Mr Crump said the Senator was sympathetic and indicated he would table the information in Parliament.
‘‘The more people that know about our plight the better,’’ Mr Crump said.
‘‘The current approach in the Murray Valley National Park is essentially putting conservation on welfare and NSW taxpayers are footing the bill.
‘‘National Parks and Wildlife Service has devised a plan to trial thin 400 hectares of red gum forest in the Murray Valley National Park. The budget for this project is around $1.5 million, well over $3500 per hectare of taxpayers’ money.’’
Mr Crump said the value of timber products produced ex-mill was worth about $13.5 million.
‘‘It has provided direct employment for 60 people in the towns of Barham and Mathoura,’’ he added.
‘‘Flow-on jobs have also been created by the injection of millions of dollars into the local economies of the region from timber sales, wages, fuel, freight and supporting trades and services,’’ he said.
‘‘We may call ourselves the lucky country but eventually stupidity will thin out the luck.
‘‘The actual cost to government for the trial thinning in the Murray Valley National Park is roughly $5200 a hectare. The cost to local economies is in the order of $9000 per hectare.
‘‘This is money our towns once had and now doesn’t.’’
Mr Crump said government and the policy makers should be working with the forest industry to come up with a cost-effective management model for public land that delivered environmental, economic and social outcomes for all.
The Murray Valley National Park was gazetted in 2010, and implemented on July 1 that year.