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Friday analysis: who will be left to harvest in Victoria’s proposed plantations

There is a simple problem with a number of very simple solutions.

The problem is that there is a shortage of timber, for companies like Opal in Victoria for example, a solution would be for

a) the Victorian State Government to take steps to end the ongoing green lawfare by closing the loopholes in the Timber Code of Practice and

b) reversing its decision to end the native timber industry in that State.

Choosing b) is wishful thinking at this point in time.

Choosing a) would appear to be a no brainer, but again given the State Government in Victoria has had plenty of time to close the loopholes, and hasn’t, would appear also to be wishful thinking.

And then there is the State Government’s long-term vision fed by a $120 million announcement for the establishment of new plantations.

This, the Nationals say, is just a rehash of its $110 million Gippsland Plantations Investment Plan.

And of course, there is the Federal Government’s Billion Trees Plan. Say no more.

But all that doesn’t really matter right now because there has, so far, been no new plantations started, and no trees planted.

And even if they are established next year, it will, of course, take some time before anyone gets any benefit from them.

And so, the problem we started with remains. Not enough trees.

And this, in turn, leaves staff at Opal’s Maryvale Mill facing a bleak Christmas and beyond.

Opal says the lack of VicForests’ wood supply continues to create challenges.

There are currently no stand downs in place however, the company says it is anticipated there will be temporary stand downs for some workgroups which may begin next month.

The State Government says it is dedicated to supporting timber workers as the state transitions away from native timber harvesting.

But that, because of a lack of trees in the ground, means those timber workers will need to “transition” into other jobs.

So, who will be left should the $120 million new plantation estate in Gippsland to support the sustainable future of forestry ever come to fruition.

Gippsland has a timber industry, and timber workers, and no trees.

In 30 years’ time Gippsland might have its new $120 million plantation estate, but who will be left to harvest it?