The Australian forest products industry has welcomed the news that the federal and state forestry ministers meeting in Canberra have agreed to a new set of priorities for the industry.
The ministers have agreed to focus on increasing resource security, expanding forestry’s contribution to climate change mitigation and expanding the production of timber and wood products.
The industry has strongly supported increased resource security, with Australian Forest Products Association CEO Joel Fitzgibbon highlighting its importance in an exclusive opinion article for Wood Central.
The meeting also agreed to support the development of the National Strategic Plan and the Timber Fibre Strategy, which the Australian Forest Products Association and the CFMEU co-chair.
In May 2023, Wood Central reported that the federal government had established a new Strategic Forest and Renewable Materials Partnership, including industry leaders, unions, and government representatives.
The partnership, comprising 15 representatives from industry, unions, indigenous, environmental, and other stakeholder groups, will “guide the government on plans to help the forestry sector realise its full potential,” according to Agriculture and Forestry Minister Murray Watt.
Joel Fitzgibbon addressed the meeting who stood in for chair Diana Gibbs.
“The collective commitment from the ministers on support for the Timber Fibre Strategy along with future work plan priorities for the sector is welcomed,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Support for the Timber Fibre Strategy is particularly noted because it shows a real commitment from ministers to work with and listen to the sector and stakeholders.”
Importantly, a communique issued by Minister Murray Watt’s office said the agreed future work plan would focus on agreed priorities that included:
- Increasing resource security and domestic supply volumes.
- Expanding the production of timber and wood products.
- Expanding forestry’s contribution to climate change mitigation.
- Expanding timber industry workforce opportunities and capacity.
- Continued sustainable management of forests.
Wood Central understands that a draft work plan will be drawn, with ministers agreeing to meet again in October 2023 to review the plan.
According to Joel Fitzgibbon, this is an important step as the industry meets the growing need for resource security.
“It was also pleasing workforce and sustainable forest management were included as priorities for the work plan.”
“We also welcome the establishment of the new officials’ meeting format.”
For Fitzgibbon getting more trees in the ground is the priority.
“Getting more trees in the ground to boost resource security while continuing to manage our sustainable native forest estates is essential for Australia’s sovereign capability.”
“Australia’s ability to lead the world on how sustainable forestry can fight climate change is also an enormous opportunity for our sector.”