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Timber companies to get $108M funding from Federal Government

Murray Watt

More than $108 million in funding will be allocated to timber manufacturing companies across the country to encourage more value adding and further innovation in the industry. The Federal Government yesterday announced the successful recipients of the Accelerate Adoption of Wood Processing Innovation grant program. Source: Timberbiz

These grant recipients will undertake a wide range of projects which will see the implementation of upgraded and innovative work practices across various industries, including production of activated carbon, housing and construction, packaging, and culturally significant timbers to higher end markets.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, made the announcement with local MP Brian Mitchell at Western Junction Sawmill near Launceston.

Senator Watt said the delivery of this program delivered on the Government’s strong support for Australia’s sustainable forestry industry.

“Our government understands how important the forestry industry is for communities around the country, but particularly here in Tasmania,” Senator Watt said.

Thirty-four grants will be made, selected by an independent panel, including funding for four projects involving First Nations organisations, enabling the use of sustainably sourced timber from traditional lands.

Australian Forest Products Association CEO Joel Fitzgibbon said the government had delivered on a key election commitment to drive innovation across timber and wood manufacturing through the AAWPI grants program.

“Australia has a shortage of timber to meet our housing needs and the delivery of these grants means Australia’s local manufacturers can maximise productivity of our existing resources while we grow our domestic supply,” he said.

“This program will not only support jobs but also help fight climate change through the creation of more renewable and sustainable products.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said that the AFPA had campaigned ahead of last year’s Federal Election for such a manufacturing innovation fund and was pleased to get a bipartisan commitment for this grants program.

It would allow processors and manufacturers to pivot and make the most of the opportunities emerging from the national and global boom in demand for sustainably sourced timber and wood fibre products.

Mr Fitzgibbon said that more than 25% of Australia’s emissions come from construction and using more timber would help Australia meets its emission reduction targets.

“These grants are about creating more long-term jobs in the forestry sector,” Senator Watt said.

“In the October budget, we committed more than $300 million to support Australia’s forest industries to innovate and improve the capacity and capability of the sector.

“In addition to this, the government is establishing the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation and has committed support for specific training for the forestry and wood products industries.”

Victorian Forest Products Association CEO Deb Kerr said the grants were a welcome investment in Victoria’s innovative wood and wood fibre sector.

“We congratulate our member AKD, based in Colac which was selected to receive an AAWPI grant,” she said.

“Our congratulations also go to XLAM at Wodonga, Tilling Timber in Kilsyth and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA) in Bendigo.

“The fact that the Federal Government has recognised the efforts of DJAARA for their Galk-galk Dhelkunya Forest Gardening Strategy here in the state is a credit to the organisation. Their philosophy of forest gardening, currently applied in storm-ravaged Wombat State Forest, could well be the blueprint for similar projects in the future, increasing partnerships with traditional owners in managing – and healing – country,” Ms Kerr said.

“With high demand timber in Victoria, these grants will enable local manufacturers to optimise the productivity of their current resources while also expanding our domestic supply to meet our housing requirements, generate employment opportunities and contribute to the fight against climate change by producing more sustainable and renewable wood products.”

Mr Mitchell said the grant program will support wood processors by stimulating investment in upgrades to existing manufacturing lines and innovation to diversify domestic products.

“Enabling wood processing facilities to use innovative technologies in their production will enhance the forestry industry’s ability to supply more of Australia’s wood demands into the future,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Here in Tasmania that includes projects that improve production processes, and value add to existing operations. More than $15 million in government funding will be spent across five projects, with the total value of new investment set to reach over $45 million.”

Funding of between $1 million to $5 million will be provided under the Wood Processing Innovation grant program to 34 successful applications from 2022-23 to 2025-26.

Under the program, recipients are required to provide at least 60% of the total project costs.

This brings the total new investment, including public and private sector funding, to $361 million.

You can view a list of recipients here.