Another Council embraces for wood first policy
EAST GIPPSLAND Shire Council is the latest to adopt a Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP). Two regional and seven local councils have now adopted a WEP in Australia, and Rotorua Lakes Council has done some ground-breaking work in New Zealand.
A WEP generally requires responsibly sourced wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in council building and fit out projects.
Among the policy aims council wanted to ‘lead the way through encouraging sustainable adoption and sourcing of timber as a building material’, and to ‘promote the industry as a renewable and sustainable resource along with the advantages of timber based products in the design and construction phase of council projects’.
Victoria’s peak body for the forest and wood products industry, the, has welcomed the announcement that East Gippsland Shire Council have become the third local council in the state to adopt a timber encouragement policy.
Tim Johnston, CEO of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries [VAFI], said it was great to see support for timber was continuing to grow and that the renewable resource was getting recognition for the role it played in sustainable economic development.
The forest and wood products industry is an important economic contributor in Victoria, generating more than $6 billion of sales and service income annually, and provides opportunities for encouraging growth, population diversity and maintaining a sustainable local industry. Much of the income generated by the industry remains in local communities, particularly so in regional areas.
The industry also creates and supports a significant number of jobs, directly employing around 21,000 people across Victoria and indirectly supporting another 40,000 to 50,000 jobs through flow on economic activity.
“The local forest and wood products industry is well positioned to assist with the growing demand for timber, both for traditional construction and engineered wood products,” Mr Johnston said.
“Victoria is already home to landmark timber buildings. Having the support of local councils is vital to seeing more investment and growth in this sector.”
In December 2014 Latrobe City Council became the first in Australia to adopt a wood encouragement policy (WEP) for public buildings.
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) both passed resolutions to adopt Wood Encouragement Policies in May and June 2015 respectively. Specifically, ALGA approved the following motion; “That this National Assembly support the use and promotion of timber products by Local Government across Australia, using a policy similar to the Wood Encouragement Policy developed by Latrobe City Council.”
Throughout 2015 Wellington Shire in Victoria, Wattle Ranges in South Australia and Kyogle and Tumbarumba in New South Wales all adopted WEPs. In January this year Nannup became the first council in Western Australia to adopt a policy.
Planet Ark is encouraging more councils to adopt WEPs.
The adoption of similar policies around the world is growing steadily, including Canada, Japan, France, Finland, Netherlands and the UK, who are all encouraging the use of natural timberbased products in construction