Des­per­ate need for more for­est plant­ing now

Australian Forests and Timber - - Front Page -

More trees in the ground gen­er­ates more in­vest­ment, and more con­fi­dence and can ul­ti­mately play a huge role in help­ing Aus­tralia over­come its acute hous­ing short­age.

That was one of the main take-away points from the FWPA/DANA/ ATIF con­vened In­sights and Out­look Con­fer­ence in Mel­bourne re­cently.

Re­ally, it was a day of pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives .... As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources, Sen­a­tor Anne Rus­ton, was ex­cep­tion­ally pos­i­tive about the in­dus­try and its fu­ture.

“The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment thinks that your fu­ture is very bright, and we look for­ward to help­ing you achieve it,” she told the al­most 100 del­e­gates to the con­fer­ence.

How­ever, she was quick to add ... “re­mem­ber, you’re the lead­ers of this sec­tor and its peo­ple will be look­ing to you to help set the shape and di­rec­tion of that fu­ture. The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment is a stake­holder in your sec­tor, but it is not a leader of it.

“We have a role to play of course, but it’s not a lead­er­ship role. That’s your role.

“It’s up to you to de­ter­mine and drive the Gov­ern­ment’s role in your in­dus­try, not the other way around,” the Sen­a­tor said of an in­dus­try that sup­ports more than 64,000 Aus­tralian jobs and which con­trib­utes more than $23 bil­lion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy.

On the less pos­i­tive side was the fear that not enough has been done to bol­ster tim­ber sup­plies within Aus­tralia. Most were of the opinion that it was now a case of more of the right species of trees in the right places ... and now!

As John Halkett (Forest­land Con­sult­ing), one of the co-con­venors of the event, said -“Alarm­ingly, it’s the con­tin­u­ing story of the real short­age of log sup­ply in Aus­tralia and there’s no doubt that un­less we do some­thing about putting trees in the ground we’re go­ing to see a con­tin­u­a­tion of tim­ber prod­uct im­ports.

“The mes­sage here to­day was that, over­all, we want to do some­thing about that.

“More trees in the ground gen­er­ates more in­vest­ment, more con­fi­dence and it helps Aus­tralia to achieve some of its hous­ing goals,” said Mr Halkett.

The Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion has long been a driver of the more of the right trees in the right places pol­icy and un­veiled a plan­ta­tion/hub sys­tem some years ago.

“We’ve heard to­day that while we’re build­ing about 200,000 houses a year we still have a short­fall of some­thing in the vicin­ity of 200,000 to 300,000 houses that we need to catch up on.

“Un­less we can start to pro­duce some more tim­ber prod­ucts in Aus­tralia then the only way we can build those houses is to im­port the tim­ber.

“And some of that tim­ber is com­ing from ar­eas where quite clearly the stan­dards of for­est man­age­ment prac­tice and com­pli­ance are less than they are in Aus­tralia,” he said, re­fer­ring to a Min­is­te­rial re­lease on il­le­gal log­ging (see sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle).

On the hous­ing front, Mr Halkett said there was a “spate of in­no­va­tion in the hous­ing de­sign/con­struc­tion area, which is im­por­tant in Aus­tralia.”

Robert Pradolin (a for­mer gen­eral man­ager of Fraser’s Prop­erty Aus­tralia) also ad­dressed the del­e­gates on hous­ing but he took aim at the cru­cial short­age of so­cial hous­ing. He sug­gested a pos­si­ble plan to help ease the so­cial hous­ing short­age would be from in­vest­ments from su­per­an­nu­a­tion funds. Cur­rently there is no in­cen­tive for the funds to in­vest in this sec­tor in Aus­tralia. Leg­isla­tive changes would be re­quired be­fore this could even­tu­ate.

“We need a par­a­digm shift in think­ing,” he said, “we need to cre­ate an eco­nomic busi­ness case.” He said that in the US they call it mul­ti­fam­ily hous­ing and within its res­i­dency mix is so­cial and af­ford­able hous­ing. That rental sec­tor does not ex­ist in Aus­tralia.

“We need to cre­ate an in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment where big in­sti­tu­tional play­ers, such as su­per­funds, in­vest their eq­uity in cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of ad­di­tional homes for rental,” he told the con­fer­ence.

More trees in the ground gen­er­ates more in­vest­ment, more con­fi­dence and helps Aus­tralia to achieve some of its hous­ing goals.

(l-r) War­ren McGre­gor (CEO pre­fabAus), Art Sch­mon (Part­ner, For­est Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sors, Canada), Ian Tyson (CEO Tim­ber­link Aus­tralia and New Zealand), Dun­can Mayes (Vice Pres­i­dent Group R&D & In­no­va­tion, Stora Enso, Fin­land), John Halkett (Manag­ing Direc­tor, Forest­lands).

■ Den­nis Neil­son (Direc­tor, DANA) and con­fer­ence con­venor.

■ Art Sch­mon (Part­ner, For­est Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sors, Vancouver, Canada), Den­nis Neil­son (Direc­tor, DANA) and con­fer­ence con­venor, and James Malone (Wes­beam).

■ Jodie Ma­son (FWPA, For­est Re­search Man­ager), Brad Barr (We­spine In­dus­tries) and Andrew Mor­ton (In­du­for).

■ John Si­mon (FWPA Chair­man).

■ Shane Or­chard (OneFortyOne Plan­ta­tions) and David By­lund (WoodSo­lu­tions).

■ Dun­can Mayes (Stora Enso) and Paolo Lavisci (WoodSo­lu­tions).

■ An­gelo Hras­tov (Lonza) and Paul O'Ke­effe (Tim­ber­link).

■ Kenny Ki­noshita (Mit­sui Bus­san Wood­chip Ocea­nia).

■ Yoshi Shi­moda (WAPRES) and Gavin Hao (RISI).

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