The Australian Forests Products Association’s (AFPA) call to increase the number of trees planted for harvesting has been reinforced by new polling, which has found overwhelming public support for the Federal and State Governments to advance the growth of plantations across Australia.
A ReachTEL poll of the four Tasmanian Federal seats of Bass, Braddon, Franklin and Lyons showed an average of 72% of voters agree that the Federal Government should do more to encourage the expansion of plantations. By electorate, the results were; Bass – 78.4%, Braddon- 69.5%, Lyons – 72.6%, and Franklin- 67.4%.
Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said, “AFPA has been saying for some time now that the National and State Governments need to develop a ‘get well plan’ for the Plantations 2020 Vision; the nationally agreed plan which set a target of 3 million hectares of sustainably managed plantations by 2020. We reached 2.1 million hectares, but sadly we are now going backwards due to continuing commercial pressures to not replant some areas.”
“Sustainably harvested and replanted forests and plantations are a natural way of managing carbon, and Australia’s industry is world class. With increasing international demand for sustainably sourced fibre, Australia is well placed to become a global leader. What is missing is a comprehensive suite of policy settings to secure this fibre. The release of the Forest Industry Advisory Council Issues Paper, led by Senator Colbeck, is a great step in the right direction. Industry will be looking to the Government to respond with a National Forestry and Fibre plan,” said Mr Hampton.
A plantation expansion target forms a key element of AFPA’s industry wide submission to the Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) Strategic Directions Issues Paper, which closed for submissions on Friday.
Other major priorities identified by industry through AFPA are:
- A dedicated Minister for Forestry and Forest Product Industries- the reappointment of a dedicated Minister for this $22 billion industry that supports 120,000 direct jobs
- Regional approaches- greater emphasis on building upon the strengths of key industry regions through long-term infrastructure and investment incentives for plantation and wood processing expansion
- New forest, wood and paper products- positioning the industry to take advantage of opportunities to diversify production and increase value adding in new products such as in engineered wood products, biomaterials, biochemicals and bioenergy
- Research and Development initiatives- addressing the dramatic decline in forest industry R&D through greater incentives to build a critical mass of researchers and co-fund priority R&D activities