The Victorian Government has reduced the area available for native timber harvesting to less than 2% of Victoria’s public forests. Source: Timberbiz
“The Andrews Government’s actions are totally undermining any industry confidence that it would be able to guarantee supply timber until 2030, as promised, and on the face of it, appears to be forcing mills to leave the industry that they love – all right before the November election,” Chief Executive Officer of VFPA, Deb Kerr said.
The State Government has released the Victorian Forestry Plan’s Sawmill opt-out Scheme and at the same time, the Threatened Species & Communities Risk Assessment (TSCRA) that outlines further new protection areas to be applied to the effective harvest area on top of 100,000 ha of protections already in place.
“The Government’s exit package has come at a time when many mills have been operating with very little timber supplies for months, with some mills mothballing operations due to lack of supply. Now the Government has confirmed that it is reducing sawlog supplies by 45% from 2024 and further reducing the effective harvest area by expanding protection zones for threatened species,” she said.
“Victoria’s sustainable native forestry industry operates on just 0.04% of the forest each year and for most of 2022 has been held to ransom through the courts by litigious green groups. Mills and their workers are stressed about their future and have little confidence in the Government’s promise to guarantee supply until 2030.
“Less than a month ago, VFPA-commissioned polling results showed almost 7 in 10 respondents supported the Government committing to the native hardwood industry up to and beyond 2030. Two-thirds of respondents said it was important that the next Victorian Government continue to access native forests to supply hardwoods where longevity and appearance are valued traits by consumers. Obviously, the Government isn’t in line with community expectations.
“These announcements show little regard for the very people who have been bearing the financial and emotional brunt of the Government’s phase out – the mills and their workers,” Ms Kerr said.
 Effective harvest area removes areas previously included but are unable to be harvested, eg gullies and steep slopes.