As Australia contends with major timber framing supply issues, forest industries look forward to greater progress on the Federal Government’s Billion Trees Plan to ensure we achieve sovereign capability to create our sustainable and essential wood and fibre products into the future said Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton. Source: Timberbiz
During Federal Parliament Question Time last week, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was asked by Centre Alliance Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie: “How many trees had been planted since the Plan had been released in 2018?”
In response, Minister Littleproud stated: “We did announce our intention to go towards one billion trees and one of the biggest challenges subsequent to that has been the Black Summer events which have in fact displaced much of the industry… that whole program was displaced because of the Black Summer events. As simple as that.”
Mr Hampton said he was pleased the Billion Trees Plan remained part of the Government’s thinking but replanting of fire affected areas is now well underway and there is no reason to hold back any longer on new plantings.
“The Federal Government has provided vital assistance to allow forest industries to emerge from the terrible events of Black Summer and our tree growing enterprises, sawmills and paper making plants have been extremely grateful.
“Now is the time however to put the foot on the accelerator and deliver meaningful progress on the Billion Trees Plan which was, it seems, paused. If we don’t get more trees planted, the current building supply issues we are witnessing nationwide will be dwarfed by the looming supply cliff in the decades ahead.
“Planting trees is a win, win, win for Australia. It will provide timber for our homes, store carbon to help meet climate goals, and, if combined with livestock farming, reduce windchill and evaporation losses, increasing primary production.”
Australia’s forest industries have welcomed Senator Rex Patrick raising concerns about the slow pace of planting more production trees under the Federal Government’s Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth Plan.
“Forest industries and builders around Australia, desperate for domestic timber supplies, strongly welcomed the announcement of the Plan to grow the plantation estate when the Federal Government released it three years ago,” Mr Hampton said.
“Unfortunately, it appears the Plan has stalled. Drawing on evidence presented by the Department of Agriculture in Senate Estimates Senator Patrick has calculated, at the present rate of planting, it will take three and a half centuries for the Plan’s billion trees to be delivered.”
Senator Patrick told Parliament that the billion trees announcement came before the timber lost to devastating fires just over a year ago which affected 130,000 hectares of commercial plantations. Replenishment of these would require about 130 million trees to be planted.
The Department recently advised the Senate that 2800 hectares had been planted. That’s roughly 2.8 million trees; that’s 2.8 million trees against an annual target of 170 million that is needed.