Timber Towns warns massive job losses if native timber industry closes

21 December 2021

Myths and falsehoods plague local mixed species timber industry

Timber Towns Victoria wants Victorians to know Victorian native (mixed species) industry outperforms imported timber for environmental sustainability and economic value.

“We need to bust the myths around native timber that have led the Victorian Government to an ill-advised policy of phasing out the industry,” said Timber Towns President Cr Karen Stephens.

“When people think of native timber, they tend to think of old growth forest – this is myth number one. The industry cannot touch old growth forests as they are protected by law. So, when we say native timber, what we mean is mixed species forests that were planted around half a century ago for the sole purpose of harvesting for timber products in the future.

“Myth number two is that plantation wood will meet timber demands. But we already have a massive undersupply of hardwood timber, as anyone in the construction or furniture industry will tell you.

McCormack Hardwood Sales is the largest supplier of F17 hardwood in Victoria – the wood used in home constructions. McCormack CEO Julia Hall said supply shortages had pushed up prices.

“Demand has increased because of the first home builders grant, while at the same time government policy means we have less local supply of hardwood,” Ms Hall said.

“Imported wood is not the solution as prices are volatile and the cost of shipping has skyrocketed over the past six months. I don’t see this problem going away anytime soon. We have a domestic solution to this problem if only the Victorian Government would allow normal, regulated harvesting. If not, Australians will continue paying more for their homes.”

For Cr Stephens, timber is a critical and sustainable resource.

“Myth number three is that the timber industry is not green. Trees are proven to be the ultimate renewable and timber industry regulation means that Victoria has among the most sustainable practices of any country across the globe.  Moreover, local timber has a lower carbon footprint than imported timber.

“Myth number four is that wood from one forest is the same as another. Wood harvested from mixed species forests is renewable, regulated and sustainable. Australians need to know the facts about mixed species forestry,” Cr Stephens said.

Otway Tonewoods is a small-scale selective harvesting operation for high-value instrument timber supporting numerous national and international luthiers (instrument makers). The company is gathering support for the sustainable use of native timber via a petition. The petition highlights how the Victorian Government is overlooking scientific advice, comprehensive advice from the Victorian Environment Assessment Council and Victorian Traditional Owners Cooperation to completely remove Victoria’s connection to timber from the bush.

“We are banning wood from a regulated and sustainable homegrown industry only to import wood from overseas markets which are not held to the same standards. To ‘save’ domestic mixed species forests, if this phase out continues, we will be responsible for decimating rainforests in other countries.

“Timber is a part of every Australian’s life. We live in homes made with wood fittings. We walk on hardwood floors and eat from beautiful timber tables. We want environmentally friendly take away containers made from timber as opposed to plastic. We enjoy music from guitars, violins and other instruments made of wood. Where do people think this wood comes from?” asked Cr Stephens.

Timber Towns Victoria has previously called on the State Government to reconsider its plan to shut down the State’s native timber industry by 2030.

About Timber Towns Victoria

Timber Towns Victoria is the peak local government body for Victoria on forestry policy. It represents Victorian Local Government areas with forestry industries on public or private land. In representing local councils and the communities that work within the forestry and timber industries, TTV is committed to maintaining sustainable practices to ensure the industry continues into the future.

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Contact: Timber Towns Victoria President, Cr Karen Stephens 0488 900 645 or email secretary@timbertownsvictoria.com.au

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