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Queensland forestry could generate extra $300m

Timber Queensland has called on the next Queensland Government to provide a clear plan to unlock the growth potential of the timber industry and the many thousands of jobs and communities it supports in the regions. Source: Timberbiz

“The timber and forest products industry generates $3.8 billion each year and supports around 25,000 jobs, mostly in regional areas,” Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens said.

“More jobs are generated in downstream sectors such as timber fabrication which feeds into the construction industry that employs 230,000 Queenslanders and contributes $30 billion to State economic activity.

“Every five minutes in Queensland, the plantation softwood industry grows enough wood to build another timber framed home. This is less time than having a cup of coffee. This makes it an incredibly renewable industry. In addition, as trees grow, they sequester carbon from the atmosphere which is why the industry is climate friendly,” he said.

“The industry is spread across the state in a number of key areas, including Maryborough and Gympie in Wide Bay Burnett, Mareeba and Cape York in the far north, Theodore and Wandoan in central-west Queensland, Caboolture in the south east and Roma, Injune and Cecil Plains in the south-west.”

Key electorates with forest product industries and growth potential include: Maryborough, Gympie, Callide, Glass House, Warrego, Cook, Morayfield and Nanango, amongst others.

“The good news is that the demand for timber is rising and projected to steadily grow. A key challenge is to meet this growing demand through further development of local forestry and timber supply chains,” Mr Stephens said.

Timber Queensland has identified five broad policy areas for Government to act: resource security; regional industry development; building and construction sector procurement; environmental recognition and innovation and research.

By focusing on these areas, Government could create an investment environment for industry to generate an extra $300 million in output and create over 2000 additional jobs.

Timber Queensland calls on government to:

  • work with industry to resolve native hardwood resource security issues on state land arising from the South-East Queensland Forest Agreement, through development of new long-term supply arrangements;
  • implement a clear plan for development of the industry in North Queensland, including wood supply from state-managed land, crown leasehold land and other private resources such as indigenous forestry opportunities;
  • commit $6 million to a farm forestry program, to promote private native forestry and tree planting on farms through an education and extension program with landowners, which can generate additional wood supply and related agricultural and environmental benefits;
  • implement local procurement criteria and policies for State-led construction projects, to support local timber suppliers and manufacturers;
  • commit $2 million to support a training initiative, to address skills needs and implement recruitment and retention pathways, particularly for the harvest and haulage sector and wood product manufacturing;
  • provide greater recognition of the carbon benefits from forestry to encourage timber planting in state carbon and environmental programs such as the Land Restoration Fund and related schemes (e.g. Emissions Reduction Fund); and
  • remove regulatory red tape that impedes timber manufacturing competitiveness, including measures to reduce energy and transmission costs from State-owned utilities as a major cost input.