Logging of Gippsland's native forests to be banned
The Andrews Labor Government has laid out its plan to fully transition the logging industry to plantation timber over the next ten years.
It's a plan that has been welcomed by environment groups but criticised by logging mills and their employees.
Speaking at Alberton in South Gippsland today, Premier Daniel Andrews said that with a reduction in available native timber resources due to fire and wildlife protection, logging in remaining old growth forests will cease immediately, protecting around 90,000 hectares, with all logging in native forests across the state to stop by 2030.
It will be a phased transition, with VicForests able to extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, after which native timber supply will be stepped down before ending in ten years.
Recognising the impacts of the plan on Gippsland's logging communities, $120 million will be set aside to support the industry. The government says it will back long-term sustainable jobs and give local workers confidence about their future.
Australian Paper has welcomed the announcement, saying the staged transition provides certaintity as it moves to a fully plantation supply at its Maryvale mill in the Latrobe Valley. The plan will ensure it has timber until at least 2050.
Dedicated funding will also be provided to help local mills invest in new equipment that will allow them to process alternative timbers and support local jobs.
Additional funding will help impacted workers to access re-employment and re-training services. The plan will also help fund community projects that support local businesses and help create local jobs.
250,000 blue gum seedlings were planted near Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill earlier this year, as part of a government plan to increase plantation supply.
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