$110 mil­lion plan­ta­tion prom­ise

Australian Forests and Timber - - Front Page -

THE VIC­TO­RIAN As­so­ci­a­tion of For­est In­dus­tries (VAFI) has wel­comed the an­nounce­ment in the Vic­to­rian State Bud­get of $110 mil­lion in fund­ing to­wards plan­ta­tion es­tab­lish­ment in the La­trobe Val­ley.

VAFI Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Tim Johnston said the fund­ing would help strengthen Vic­to­ria’s longterm wood sup­ply.

“This is the first step in aug­ment­ing ex­ist­ing wood sup­ply and will ben­e­fit the whole in­dus­try sup­ply chain. It is help­ing to build a strong and re­silient for­est, fibre and wood prod­ucts in­dus­try that con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic, so­cial, and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits to Vic­to­ria,” he said.

“As the area of new plan­ta­tions es­tab­lished has steadily de­clined over many years, I con­grat­u­late the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment for in­vest­ing in a re­source that is re­new­able and re­cy­clable, and will help Vic­to­ria op­er­ate in a low car­bon econ­omy.

“Given wood is the ma­te­rial of the 21st cen­tury, VAFI looks forward to work­ing with the Govern­ment in determining the next steps to bring this plan­ta­tion es­tab­lish­ment to fruition,” Mr Johnston said.

The for­est, fibre and wood prod­ucts in­dus­try is the lifeblood of many ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties across Vic­to­ria; it is a $7 bil­lion in­dus­try that em­ploys 21,000 Vic­to­ri­ans and sup­ports an­other 40,000 to 50,000 lo­cal jobs, many of these in re­gional ar­eas.

Vic­to­ria has the largest to­tal area of plan­ta­tions in Aus­tralia with more than 420,000 hectares of com­mer­cial hard­wood and soft­wood plan­ta­tions. Hard­wood plan­ta­tions (mostly bluegum) make up roughly 47% of plan­ta­tions while soft­wood plan­ta­tions (mainly ra­di­ata pine) ac­count for 52% of the plan­ta­tion area in the state.

Plan­ta­tion forestry pro­vides ad­di­tional eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion across re­gional Vic­to­ria as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits in­clud­ing car­bon se­ques­tra­tion.

Aus­tralia’s na­tional in­dus­try gov­ern­ing body, the Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA), also gave the thumbs up to the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment plan­ta­tion plan.

AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said the move would pro­vide a ma­jor boost to Vic­to­ria’s plan­ta­tion estate and if prop­erly tar­geted, strengthen Vic­to­ria’s long-term wood sup­ply.

Mr Hampton said soft­wood and hard­wood plan­ta­tions pro­vided more than 80% of the wood fibre and tim­ber for our na­tional for­est prod­uct in­dus­tries, and in 2016 plan­ta­tions added $778 mil­lion to the Vic­to­rian econ­omy.

“How­ever, in­vest­ment in new plan­ta­tions in Aus­tralia has ef­fec­tively come to a stand­still.

“Although we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing strong de­mand for wood fibre, much of the growth has been filled by im­ports. This is, in part, be­cause we aren’t pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient plan­ta­tion re­source in this coun­try for our do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“The for­est prod­ucts in­dus­try looks forward to work­ing with the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment to en­sure that that this in­vest­ment is di­rected to­wards projects that help grow our sus­tain­able in­dus­try and the tens of thou­sands of re­gional jobs we sup­port,” said Mr Hampton.

La­trobe City Coun­cil Mayor Kel­lie O’Cal­laghan said La­trobe City was await­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment in the bud­get. “As yet we have no un­der­stand­ing of time frames, po­ten­tial sites or any de­tails of sig­nif­i­cance. Once we have some in­for­ma­tion, we will in­form the com­mu­nity,” the Mayor said.

VAFI Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Tim Johnston.

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