The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) strongly welcomes Federal Labor’s election commitment to remove artificial Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) barriers that are holding back new plantations and future timber supply, Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said today.

“Today, Federal Labor has committed to removing regulatory barriers that exclude plantation and farm forestry from the carbon market, which has severely restricted new forestry plantings from going ahead,” Mr Hampton said.

‘A Shorten Labor Government will get rid of the water rule, it makes no sense, we’ll do it as quickly as we possibly can, and why are we doing it? We’re doing it for the environment and we’re doing it for jobs’ – Hon Joel Fitzgibbon, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

“This announcement is a game-changer for Australia’s renewable forest products industries and gives us the best chance of achieving the 400,000 hectares of new plantation and farm forestry projects our industries need over the next decade to grow jobs and keep up with demand for renewable Australian forest products.

“There has been a decade long decline in plantation area in Australia and the removal of these restrictions would make a difference in Australia’s major growing and processing regions.

“By enabling farmers and plantation managers to receive carbon payments for new tree plantings, we are reducing Australia’s carbon footprint and growing our forest resource to create jobs in regional Australia and secure the future of our forest product manufacturers – it’s a win-win for Australia.”

Mr Hampton urged the Coalition Government to match Labor’s commitment and provide bipartisan support for renewable forest industries and achieve the Government’s own target of supporting the planting of 1 billion new plantation trees in Australia by 2030.

“The ball is now in the Coalition’s court to match the removal of the water rule, to guarantee that these artificial restrictions cease, whichever side of politics wins government on May 18. The removal of the water rule is a major policy on the path to creating 20,000 new jobs across the full value chain of forest industries,” Mr Hampton concluded.

Last week, AFPA launched ‘Growing Your Future’ a campaign to support forest industries nationally with ‘10 Actions for Growth’. The water rule removal delivers one of our key policy asks to ensure more trees get planted ‘in the right places at the right scale’.

AFPA will be marking the major parties and publishing scorecards against our ‘10 Actions for Growth’ in the lead up to the 18 May election. More ‘Growing Your Future’ campaign information can be found at www.growingyourfuture.com.au

Plantations and farm forestry are currently constrained from competing in the carbon market by unnecessary restrictions in the Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies, which restrict new planting in areas with more than 600mm of annual rainfall for plantations, and 400mm for farm forestry. The plantations methodology contains safeguards around where trees can be planted – projects are restricted to National Plantation Inventory regions and are subject to approval by the Federal Minister for Agriculture.