Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has backed the timber industry’s efforts to be allowed to salvage native timber from bushfire affected areas of Gippsland.
Mr Chester has written to both the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Senator John Duniam and Victoria’s Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes to seek their support to supply native timber from bushfire affected areas of Gippsland.
The Australian Forest Products Association wants a recovery harvesting operation to get underway in the coming weeks and months to recover as much of the burned trees for timber as possible, before they deteriorate and become unusable.
The association says the salvage operation will also include removing unburned trees felled during the fire fight to create fire breaks and access routes for fire fighters. It says salvaging burned trees can improve public safety and reduce the intensity of future fires.
Mr Chester said Victoria’s forest industry had been dramatically impacted by the loss of timber-producing native forests and plantations.
“While I understand timber shortages as a result of these fires may not be evident for some time, I sought the advice of both ministers as to what action was being taken to maintain supply to local mills,” Mr Chester said.
“I also asked what provisions were being made to provide access to allow the salvage of timber that would otherwise go to waste.
“These fires have had an enormous economic impact on Gippsland, including on the timber and forestry sector. All levels of government need to work together to maximise and protect local job opportunities, cut red tape and support our communities which are suffering.
“We need to work urgently with businesses and industries that have been directly impacted by the fires, such as the timber industry, to help them to recover as quickly as possible and give their employees job security.
“Skilled timber industry workers have been among the unsung heroes of our bushfire fight and recovery. We need to stand by them and their families, acknowledge the contribution they have made and do everything we can to see that they pull through this crisis together with the rest of Gippsland.”