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AGE: Timber industry steps up campaign for native forest


The Age
Timber industry steps up campaign for native forest
Philip Hopkins
7th June 2006.

VICTORIA'S native forest timber industry will boost gross state product by $1.2 billion and create more than 1200 jobs within 15 years if the State Government allows current levels of native forest harvesting to continue, according to a report prepared for the industry by Allen Consulting.

The report, by Jon Stanford and former federal industry minister John Button, found GSP would be more than $300 million higher in 2020 alone. Over the 15-year period, Victoria's GSP would grow by $1.2 billion.
More than 800 of the new jobs would be created in Melbourne, because the city is home to most of the wood products industry, with the rest of the jobs in regional Victoria.

The report, prepared for the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, is based on a number of assumptions, including that there would be no reduced access to native forest for the industry. It comes after the State Government decided to phase out logging in the Otways by 2008.

Mr Stanford said resource security was crucial. He said the regional forest agreement process promised resource security, but within two years of its completion, there was a 32 per cent cut in native forest areas available.

This was followed by the move to stop logging in the Otways — a 4 per cent cut. "This decision appeared to have been taken for political rather than scientific reasons … the impact on the industry's confidence was severe," Mr Stanford said.

Under State Government policy, the industry was promised a sustainable yield of 575,000 cubic metres of sawlogs, but supply this financial year would be only 530,000 cubic metres.

A Government spokeswoman said the Government would continue to follow the Our Forest Our Future guidelines, designed to ensure sustainability of Victoria's native forests and timber industry communities.
The spokeswoman said the Government made the Otways decision after local government and the tourism industry raised concerns.

"The Bracks Government is striving to balance the viability and future of the timber industry with the protection of the environment," she said.

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