VicForests said that it respected the sentiments of South Gippsland Shire Council, that voted against native timber harvesting in Mirboo North.
“We urge the Council and the community to continue talking with us,” Alex Messina, VicForests General Manager Corporate Affairs said.
“There are further possibilities that could be explored together in constructive talks before harvesting is scheduled. VicForests’ door remains open.
“While we accept some community opposition will persist, we also believe strongly that good faith and productive engagement produces respectful outcomes for all interests,” Mr Messina said.
The Victorian Government allows harvesting in 6% of public forests. In any year, VicForests harvests about 0.04% – nominally equivalent to four trees in 10,000.
VicForests is a key contributor to regional and Gippsland economies generating about 2500 jobs and $570m of annual economic activity for regional Victoria.
“We do this harvesting sustainably, and creating jobs and incomes for many Gippslanders whose livelihoods and families rely on our industry,” Mr Messina said.
The State’s timber industry peak body, the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI), supports VicForests’ planned operations.
“With less than 0.04% of Victoria’s state forests currently being harvested and regenerated each year, this is a sustainable industry supporting regional jobs in harvest, haulage and processing, especially in Gippsland,” Tim Johnston, VAFI CEO said.
“Many of our members use the quality hardwood harvested from state forests to process into sought-after appearance grade furniture along with timber for use in home-building.
“We support VicForests’ plan for harvesting, recognising that changes have already been made to harvesting areas in response to community concerns.
“Timber harvesting and tourism have co-existed for many years in Victoria, including in many small regional communities and we look forward to this continuing,” Mr Johnston said.