Australia’s forest industries have welcomed Senator Rex Patrick raising concerns about the slow pace of planting more production trees under the Federal Government’s Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth Plan.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton said, “Forest industries and builders around Australia, desperate for domestic timber supplies, strongly welcomed the announcement of the Plan to grow the plantation estate when the Federal Government released it three years ago. Unfortunately, it appears the Plan has stalled. Drawing on evidence presented by the Department of Agriculture in Senate Estimates Senator Patrick has calculated, at the present rate of planting, it will take three and a half centuries for the Plan’s billion trees to be delivered.”
Senator Patrick told Parliament:
“The billion trees announcement came before the timber lost to devastating fires just over a year ago which affected 130,000 hectares of commercial plantations.
Replenishment of these would require about 130 million trees to be planted.
The Department recently advised the Senate that 2800 hectares had been planted. That’s roughly 2.8 million trees; that’s 2.8 million trees against an annual target of 170 million that is needed.
At this rate forget meeting the 2050 target.
It will take 357 years to hit a billion trees.”
“Timber and fibre are as vital as fuel and food. We export about three times as much food as we need, yet we are falling further and further behind in our self-sufficiency in timber. We encourage the Federal Government to urgently move forward with its Billion Trees Plan,” Mr Hampton concluded.