Government must act now on domestic timber shortage
The Federal Government needs to pour dynamic lifter on the Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth Plan to address the painfully slow rate of planting, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.
“The Plan was announced in 2018 to grow the domestic timber plantations but to date only around 2,800ha have actually been planted at around a thousand trees per hectare. At this rate, it will take the Government 350 years to reach its billion-tree target!” Rebekha said.
Rebekha commented on the Plan after raising the issue in Question Time late last week, asking Agriculture Minister David Littleproud exactly how many trees had been planted.
In response, Minister Littleproud stated: “We did announce our intention to go towards one billion trees and one of the biggest challenges subsequent to that has been the Black Summer events which have in fact displaced much of the industry…that whole program was displaced because of the Black Summer events. As simple as that.”
But Rebekha says blaming the Black Summer Bushfires is no excuse for the painfully slow roll-out of the program.
“The Plan was announced before the bushfires which affected around ten per cent of Australia’s domestic softwood plantations. The Government should have been rolling out the Billion Trees Program before the fires and they should have been continuing the program while assisting the industry to recover from the fires,” Rebekha said.
“We are facing a significant domestic timber shortage right now.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems bringing in imports and a global shortage has driven up the price of what imports we can get.
“Our domestic demand for building timber is at a 15-year record high. If we wanted to be self-sufficient in timber, if the Government’s aim is to make Australia self-sufficient in timber, we should have started planting yesterday.
“And this problem doesn’t even consider we cannot get what locally available plantation timber we do have off Kangaroo Island right now.
“The Government needs to fast-track its Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth Plan.
You can read the Australian Forest Products Association media release on Rebekha’s question here: Australia’s forest industries look forward to progress on Government’s ‘Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth Plan’ - AFPA (ausfpa.com.au)