Today the Victorian Government has announced a $120 million plan to transition away from the logging of native trees by 2030.
The level of native timber that is currently logged will be reduced between 2024-25 in a new policy confirmed by the Andrews Government today. There has also been an immediate ban placed on logging in around 90,000 hectares of old growth forest. Native timbers are already in limited supply, but the logging of them is set to come to an end by 2030.
The $120 million transition package will go to supporting up to 2,200 workers within the native timber industry who will be affected by the new legislation. It is estimated up to 21,000 people work in the wider forestry and wood products sector. A large sum of the compensation is expected to go to the Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill which employs upwards of 900 people and is one of the largest employers in the LaTrobe Valley.
The Maryvale Mill has a contract for the supply of native timber from the state’s Central Highlands under a deal passed by the Victorian parliament in the 1990s. The government has said that this transition package will secure jobs at the Maryvale Mill until 2050.
Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement at a tree nursery in Alberton, Gippsland, saying ‘There will be pain and there will be challenges in this, but we will stand with every single community to provide the certainty and the support to make it through this tough transition.’
‘Essentially we are going to replace those jobs currently employed with native timber, with jobs in planting, cutting down and hauling and processing plantation timber.’
Over the last several years, there have been on-going debates between the industry and environmentalists that the logging of Victoria’s native forests is causing a loss of habitat for the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum. A policy to create special logging exclusion zones whenever a Leadbeater possum is detected have been put in place.
Conservationists have campaigned for the creation of a ‘Great Forest National Park’ in the Central Highlands and have argued that the halt of native logging and protection of these forests instead, would boost tourism in the area and create jobs.
Feature photo by Aidan Kempster
In other environmental news…