The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s removal of regulatory barriers to enable production tree planting on farms and in plantations.

The announcement will pave the way for tens of millions of new trees to potentially be planted over the coming decade as these activities will now be supported through the Government’s Climate Solution Fund.

Chief Executive Officer of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “Whilst it has always been possible for farmers and landowners to gain carbon credits for planting trees for environmental uses, it will now also be possible to bid for credits for production trees which will be processed into renewable products, and the area replanted. This is acknowledgment that half the mass of the tree is carbon which continues to be stored in the fibre-based products which are produced from the logs; from house frames to packaging. These minor regulatory changes to Australia’s emissions reduction policies bring our country into line with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advice (4th Assessment) to governments which is:

“A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

Mr Hampton continued, “This welcome announcement also represents the Morrison Government making real its delivery of its ‘National Forest Industries Plan’ with its goal of planting another billion production trees by 2030. Australia has world class sawmills and paper and packaging mills, but they face a shortage of fibre to produce their products. Already up to a quarter of our timber house frames are having to be imported – a situation which most Australian’s would find unacceptable for a nation with such a vast land area and skilled regional workers looking for secure employment. The Black Summer bushfires wiped out some 130,000 hectares of plantations, making today’s announcement by the Federal Government even more welcome as we must move very quickly to get replacement trees back in the ground and growing.”

“Trees are large and heavy and it makes no sense to promote their production based planting in areas too far from sawmills and processing plants. Forest industries have long advocated for a very planned approach to this next growth phase arguing that any new policy must promote planting ‘the right trees, in the right place at the right scale.’ We are very pleased the Government has listened to this advice and specified that the carbon funding will be directed to plantings on farm and by other landowners initially in five* Pilot Regional Forest Industry Hubs. Industry looks forward to the Government moving quickly to provide the same opportunity for the remaining Regional Forest Industry Hubs across the nation.”

“Forest industries employ some 80,000 people directly, most in regional communities, and contribute about $24 billion to our national income. They can do almost anything with timber, but they can’t do it without the wonderful, renewable resource which comes from trees which can be repeatedly grown, harvested, and grown again. The Minister responsible for Emissions Reduction Hon Angus Taylor and Assistant Minister responsible for Forestry, Jonno Duniam deserve our thanks for delivering this regulatory change which will help ensure the future prosperity of our forest industry-based regions,” Mr Hampton concluded.         (See over for more information)

*The initial five Regional Forest Industry Hubs are in South West Western Australia, the Green Triangle of SA and Vic (with the caveat that details are yet to be resolved with the Andrews Government), North/North West Tasmania, North East New South Wales and the South West Slopes of New South Wales extending into northern Victoria.

A map of the hub areas is here: Hub maps

The announcement from the federal Government is here: Government Announcement