The Queensland government will advance its work on native forest wood flows as part of the Native Timber Action Plan for the industry.
This work is being undertaken through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to look at long-term wood supply options from Crown land and private native forests.
Complementing this work, DAF has also commissioned work to capture the full employment and gross economic contribution of the native hardwood industry, including both upstream (primary and secondary processing, wholesale and retail and furniture) and downstream (growing, harvest and haulage) activities for both public and private native forestry operations across the state.
Wood Central contacted the DAF, who confirmed that the work will provide important direction for the state’s future hardwood policy.
A similar exercise was undertaken in February this year by the NSW North-East Regional Forestry Hub through Ernst & Young, which conducted an economic impact assessment of the hardwood forest industry in over four different NSW regions.
Under the action plan, Queensland’s native timber advisory panel met for the first time in June 2021 as part of a long-term plan for the state’s $3.8 billion timber industry.
The panel was chaired by Alan Feely, former Deputy Director-General of the Queensland Department of Nature Resources and Mines.
It comprised stakeholders including First Nations people, representatives from the conservation sector, unions and the native timber industry.
The meetings focused on the government’s plan for native forestry on land under state and private ownership, conservation outcomes, economic impacts, and opportunities for Queensland’s regional communities.
Premier Anna Palaszczuk announced the Native Timber Action Plan in Maryborough on November 4, 2019.
“The government is taking decisive action to support regional Queensland timber industry jobs, locking in hardwood supplies in the Wide-Bay Burnett region up to 2026,” she said.
The Premier said this announcement was another example of her government’s commitment to listening and delivering on jobs for regional Queensland.
“My government has a laser sharp focus on supporting new jobs and economic development in regional Queensland. The announcement is also a ‘win’ for hundreds more people and businesses who indirectly rely on the timber industry.
“This is a responsible decision that balances my government’s commitment to both jobs and the environment.”
Anna Palaszczuk added: “I want Queensland to have an internationally competitive and sustainable industry. This process will refresh the Southeast Queensland Regional Forests Agreement for a new generation.
“This is a monumental achievement entered into in good faith by government, industry and conservation groups, but it needs to be updated to recognise new unexpected challenges facing the industry.”
Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders, who has been a driving force behind the government’s intervention to save timber jobs, said the action plan showed what could be achieved when industry and communities work together.
“The timber industry across Queensland has been crying out for certainty of supply and it is the Palaszczuk Labor government that is delivering that certainty,” Saunders said.
Mark Furner, Queensland Agricultural and Industry Development Minister said in a statement at the time that the advisory panel would help deliver a “long-term sustainable future” for the native timber industry.
He added that balancing environmental interests and jobs was important to this end.
“The timber industry is key to Queensland’s plan for economic recovery, employing 8800 people and injecting $3.8 billion into the economy every year,” Furner said.
“The broad representation of members on the native timber advisory panel ensures that all views are heard and fully understood.”
Bruce Saunders noted that the work of the advisory panel was the “next stage of the government’s native timber action plan”, for which the Wide Bay-Burnett region would see hardwood timber harvesting extended for another two years up to 2026.
“That has secured the employment of 500 Maryborough and Wide Bay locals working in the industry,” Saunders said.
The government’s native timber action plan also resulted in the termination of an unsuccessful hardwood plantations program.
In his opening address at the Timber Queensland symposium ‘Doing Timber Business in Queensland’ on June 1, Minister Furner said that information collected from the panel and associated work would be used for further public consultation to frame the state’s native forestry policy going forward.