Victoria transitioning from native timber to plantations

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VICTORIA is transitioning away from native timber harvesting, as the state government announces new support for the timber industry through its Victorian Forestry Plan.

With native timber harvesting being phased out by the government in 2030, the Victorian Forestry Plan should enable supply chains to adjust in time, while also supporting workers and communities through the 2024 step-down.

The government has committed more than $100 million to workers, communities and businesses who will be effected by the step-down plan, bring its total investment for transition support to in excess of $200 million.

“The Victorian Forestry Plan was created to transition the native forest industry to a range of new opportunities by 2030, and we are doing just that,” said Mary-Anne Thomas, minister for agriculture.

The newly announced commitment will include opt out packages and increased redundancy payments.

“The timber industry is changing – this is why we have a substantial financial package ready to support workers and communities, as we move to a new timber future based around plantations,” added Thomas.

The announcement is in part a response to the new legal challenges brought to the industry, enabling all parties to meet the Code of Practice for Timber Production.

While in early 2022 new legislation will be introduced, laying out standards for how the industry can meet its obligations to the code.

“These changes will deliver new ways to protect our precious wildlife while supporting the transition of our native forests from timber harvesting by 2030,” said Lily D’Ambrosio, minister for energy environment and climate change.

The Victorian Forestry Plan will also expand on the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund and the Forestry Business Transition Voucher Program by $20 million.

While $14 million will be utilised for the implementation of new environmental measures, such as a new coupe regeneration plan.

The Conservation Regulator will also be granted new infringement powers to respond to breaches of the code of practice, to bring the its powers to be more in line with other Victorian regulators.

“We’re continuing to strengthen the Conservation Regulator, with new penalties and provisions enabling them to take timely and appropriate action,” said D’Ambrosio.

These powers will build on those granted under the new Forests Legislation Amendment (Compliance and Enforcement Act 2021.

While under the new plan, VicForests will still deliver the government’s timber commitments, with a focus on contracting, harvesting and regeneration.

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