NSW softwood privatization cancelled after bushfires

NSW Treasury said around 25 percent of Forestry Corporation of NSW’s softwood division had been damaged by the summer bushfires.

The New South Wales Government will not proceed with the proposed privatization of its commercial softwood plantation business, following a review that took into account the impact of this summer’s bushfire season.

The government began a scoping study into the privatization in September 2019 regarding the long-term lease of around 230,000 hectares of radiata pine forests, owned and operated by the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Sources told Agri Investor that the privatization was likely to attract “significant interest”, including from domestic Australian investors, and could have been worth as much as A$1 billion ($663 million; €614 million).

NSW Treasury said today that around 25 percent of FCNSW’s softwood division had suffered some degree of damage during the summer bushfire season.

Agri Investor reported in January this year that the privatization process was in doubt following the bushfires.

An FCNSW spokeswoman said at the time that the Dunn’s Road fire in the Snowy Mountains region had burned through around 40,000 ha of plantations, both state and privately-owned.

Deputy premier and minister responsible for forestry and disaster recovery John Barilaro said in a statement, the government’s priority is to “assist Forestry Corp and help the entire forestry industry get back on its feet after the fires.”

NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet added: “The significant damage to the sector caused by the recent bushfires was obviously a key factor in the decision made by the NSW Government.

“We are committed to ensuring the forestry industry recovers from the fires and the thousands of people who are employed in the sector have a strong and secure future.”