‘Wood Encouragement’ policy to put Latrobe City Council on world stage
IN AN Australian first, Latrobe City Council is introducing a ‘Wood Encouragement’ policy. If adopted, the draft policy will see Latrobe City join other nations driving timber for social, environmental and industry development reasons. Wood First or Wood Encouragement policies already operate in countries including Canada and France.
The draft policy aims to promote the use of wood as the preferred material in both the construction and fit out of Council buildings and infrastructure.
Latrobe City Council’s mayor, Councillor Sharon Gibson, said that if the policy was adopted it would be a clear signal of Council’s view.
“Our area is one of Australia’s most important ‘ fibre baskets’. Trees, wood and fibre provide for 1325 jobs within the municipality either directly or indirectly and inject over $800 million into the regional economy every year.
“This draft policy will allow us to drive hard to attract wood-related development and research into our community. Wood is the most environmentally friendly, carbon friendly resource available and we are one of the mainstays of the industry nationally.
“There will, of course, be cases when wood will not be the most suitable material, or be just one of a mix of materials put forward. That is why this draft policy encourages, rather than mandates, the use of wood for Council projects.
“The draft policy has been open for public comment from 6 November and we are very keen to hear from our community about how it can be improved. Our goal is to ensure that wood is carefully considered from the moment architects, designers and builders consider bidding for a Council project – anything from a new major building to a series of bus shelters,” Cr Gibson said.
“In response to Council’s support for the forest and wood products industry and its advanced manufacturing opportunities, the major international industry event, AUSTimber2016, will be held in the city for the first time. This event will no doubt see a huge influx of visitors to our region which in turn will have a positive flow-on effect on our economy,” Cr Gibson said.
“This will demonstrate to the world that Latrobe City is open for business and will highlight to those new and existing enterprises the potential of tapping into the advantage of our skilled workforce and our abundant supply of raw material,” she said. The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association, Ross Hampton, travelled to Morwell to address the Councillors at the Council Chamber.
“This is a forward thinking Council led by Mayor, Councillor Sharon Gibson,” he said.
“All over the world in countries such as Canada and France, Governments are making the decision to change their tender processes to better accommodate timber.
Latrobe City Council is to be congratulated for leading our nation. The reasons political decision makers are taking this stance is simple. Timber and timber products are completely renewable, biodegradable and as they store carbon, play a positive role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Latrobe City Council’s case the benefits are clearly economic as well.” Nationally, forestry and forest product industries provide some 80 000 direct jobs and about 200 000 indirect. These jobs are generally clustered around regional areas in Tasmania, South east Queensland, the Green Triangle of South Australia and Victoria, Gippsland, northern and southern NSW, Central Tablelands and the Tumut area of NSW, and Southwest WA.
Mr Hampton said, “It is my hope that all councils in these areas will follow the lead of Latrobe City Council and adopt their own wood encouragement policies.”
The draft Wood Encouragement Policy is open for public comment until 5 December.
To have a say visit www.latrobe.vic.gov.au/insertlink or call 1300 367 700 for more information.
Latrobe City is open for business and will highlight to those new and existing enterprises the potential of tapping into the advantage of our skilled workforce