The 2014 state election season has officially kicked off, and VAFI’s message to all candidates and parties is clear: the forest and wood products industry is an important and dynamic part of the Victorian economy. This was spelled out in a special piece by VAFI CEO Tim Johnson. Source: Victorian Association of Forest Industries.
It creates suburban, regional and rural jobs and opportunities for the state, and is the lifeblood of many regional communities.
In addition, wood is the most environmentally sustainable natural resource as it is renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, and carbon-storing. It is the material of the 21st century.
The key policy areas that we need political support for are:
o No new national parks or extension to the existing reserve system from current productive forests.
o No reduction in existing resource levels.
o Support both the native forest and plantation sectors as they complement each other in their mix of products for consumers – it is not a simple choice of one replacing the other.
o Ensure long term security for the forest and wood products industry through existing supply and future access to resource.
o Investigate the potential for private estate forestry, including long run hardwood plantation development.
Investment and Innovation
o Focus on opportunities to maximise current available supply by increasing value-adding opportunities and diversifying throughout the supply chain.
o Improve uptake of productivity enhancing measures, including new technologies, workforce skills and capabilities, industry collaboration, and market support.
o Support development of multi-level timber buildings, both framed and from and engineered wood products.
Government Purchasing Policies
o Explicit support and purchasing of local products, including wood encouragement program across all departments and agencies.
o Native forestry and plantations recognised as an ‘as of right’ crop in line with other agricultural activities.
Market Access and Development
o Improve market access for Victorian forest and wood products businesses via trade support to ensure the local industry remains competitive in the global market
o Investigate the potential to take to market products derived from changing resource supply.
Our industry has a great future. VAFI will continue to advocate for bipartisan support to make that future happen – for the good of Victoria’s economy, community and ongoing sustainability.