Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has told a Timber Towns Victoria Roundtable ‘we need to keep fighting to save our timber industry because people and wildlife die in poorly managed forests’
Speaking at a forum in Heyfield this week, Mr Chester urged TTV to get involved in the Federal election campaign and take their positive jobs and environmental message to city electorates.
“Premier Dan Andrew’s plan to shutdown the native timber industry is a plan to kill country towns, kill wildlife, and kill Australian jobs,” Mr Chester said.
“The native hardwood timber industry has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. It’s now a sophisticated, world-class and environmentally-sustainable industry that supports Australian jobs, protects our communities and wildlife from bushfires, and reduces our carbon footprint.
“The alternative to harvesting local timber on a long-term rotational basis is to import more timber from countries with poorer environmental protocols.
“A sustainable Victorian hardwood timber industry is part of the answer to reducing Australia’s carbon emissions as timber products sequester carbon in our floorboards, furniture and other timber products. Re-growing trees can increase and maintain the role of forests as carbon sinks and is the ultimate renewable resource.
“In Victoria, our most environmentally important forest areas are already protected with 3.367 million hectares of conservation areas that can never be harvested. We can all be proud of the fact that all Victorian old growth forest area is protected, enhancing biodiversity.
“Every tree that is harvested by the timber industry is regrown, by law, and VicForests harvests and regenerates approximately 3000 hectares each year from multiple-use public forests.”
Mr Chester said poorly managed forests were a threat to humans, wildlife and critical infrastructure.
“The skills and machinery of Gippsland timber industry workers help to keep us safe during bushfires and if the industry is shutdown, they will be lost forever,” he warned.
“All of the Black Summer bushfires started on public land that had incredibly high fuel loads after decades of mismanagement due to a chronic lack of staff, resources, and commitment to protecting our communities.
“We need active forest management in our region which allows for multiple uses such as camping, hiking, prospecting, bee-keeping, fishing and a sustainable timber industry.
“The skills of the timber industry workers should be utilised further to maintain forest access roads and strategic fire breaks around critical assets, like water catchments, towns and highways, with the timber harvested for the benefit of everyone.
We need more boots and less suits. That’s more boots on the ground doing fuel reduction and other practical environmental work, and less suits in Melbourne making excuses… and stupid politically-motivated decisions which endanger the lives of locals and visitors.
“It’s time for Premier Andrews to understand the world has changed since he made his decision in 2019 to ban the timber industry, and work with our communities to protect jobs and deliver positive environmental outcomes.”