The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement of $12.5 million to kick-start nine new forest industry hubs, including four initial pilot hubs, Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said today.

The Prime Minister was in Tasmania’s North West today announcing that region would be a pilot hub along with South West Western Australia, Western Victoria’s and South East South Australia’s Green Triangle region and North East NSW.

The regions that will follow the four initial pilot hubs include; Victoria’s Gippsland, NSW’s South West Slopes, Central West NSW, South East QLD and North QLD.

“Last year, the Coalition Government committed to creating regional forest industry hubs, through its National Forest Industries Plan, designed to turbo charge growth in forest products industries in regional Australia. The Federal Government’s announcement today, builds on that commitment,” Mr Hampton said.

“The Coalition Government and indeed all sides of federal politics should also be aware of the major challenges facing forest products industries because they need to be kept forefront of mind when developing the regional forest industry hubs.

“Demand for forestry and forest products continues to grow, but for a decade, policy has been lacking to enable tree planting to keep pace with demand. Already we are importing significant quantities of softwood for house frames.

“The Morrison Government has committed to planting one billion new trees over the next decade (including 400,000 new hectares of plantations nationally). The pilot hubs are an important first step and will help ensure the ‘right trees are planted in the right places’. The Government’s plan particularly calls out farm forestry which will play a significant role in achieving the goals of growing one billion new trees. We expect a strong focus on developing farm forestry within the hubs. Other refreshed policies on things like carbon payments are also needed to trigger new plantings,” Mr Hampton concluded.