Management and utilisation of forest residues
The Government recognises the strategic importance to forestry of the industry securing viable alternative markets for harvesting and processing residues. The Government has acted on a number of fronts to facilitate appropriate alternative uses for forest residues, including;
- an Expression of Interest process,
- the Residues Solution Study, and
- the Wood and Fibre Processing Innovation Program.
Maximising the value of forest residues
In July 2018, the Tasmanian Government commissioned Evan Rolley to assist with the investigation of strategic options for a southern residues solution. Mr Rolley’s work considered three main options – the feasibility of a southern export facility; road and rail freight options to take residues to existing ports for export; and additional value-adding residue processing options in southern Tasmania. The resulting report is available below. Note that the appendix has been removed, as it contains material which is commercial in confidence.
Residues Solution Study
The Tasmanian Government commissioned a Residues Solutions Study (the study), to identify potential options to utilise harvesting and processing residues from Tasmania's forests, including native forest and plantations.
The study was developed with input from an Advisory Group of government and industry representatives, established specifically for the Residues Solutions Study.
The study was undertaken by the forestry consulting firm, Indufor, together with its sub-consultants, Enecon. The work consisted of two separate stages:
- Stage 1 – Options identification and initial assessment.
- Stage 2 – Detailed consideration of identified highest priority options.
The Stage 1 report identified and considered 23 separate opportunities. It used a multi-criteria analysis to assess and compare the options. The multi-criteria analysis considered a range of factors, including technical feasibility, market potential, economic viability, social factors, environmental sustainability, and financing requirements.
The Stage 1 Report recommended four key areas be considered in greater detail in Stage 2:
- processing of residues into timber products, including plywood and Glulam/cross laminated timber such as Hardlam
- energy generation options such as biomass, including stand-alone power (small-scale power generation) and industrial co-generation (site-based heating/power generation)
- biofuels, including biomass-based hydrocarbons that is using residues to develop petrol substitutes
- wood pellets, that is, processed pellets for power generation and heating.
Stage 2 comprised an assessment of markets, price-trends, outlook for demand, feedstock availability and economic considerations relevant to the development of different processing options in Tasmania. Stage 2 also identified key success factors, key challenges and potential barriers to entry for each of the processing options assessed.
The Stage 2 report provides insights into the potential opportunities and challenges that may emerge as different processing technologies utilising wood fibre are considered in the Tasmanian context.
Ultimately, the establishment of new processing capacity in Tasmania is one for the private sector to lead.
The study will be an important reference for the Tasmanian Government that will be considered in light of any outcomes from the Expression of Interest process for Southern Residues.
The study will inform the government on its engagement with industry on new investment and provide further guidance on how it can best act to support innovation and new activity in the industry. However, government will continue to assess specific proposals on their own merits and in light of relevant community and market factors of the day.
Log merchandiser and residue recovery trials
The Tasmanian Government is committed to enabling industry to achieve the highest possible value for wood harvesting and processing residues. In recognition of this, the Department of State Growth and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania in conjunction with Private Forests Tasmania and several forest industry businesses undertook two operational trials to further understand how to maximise the recovery of timber products from forestry operations in Tasmania’s southern forests. The trials tested the:
- efficacy of centralised log merchandising versus traditional infield merchandising in terms of product recovery across public and private forests
- ability to, and cost of harvest residue recovery from harvested coupes.