Council statement: native forest timber industry

Published on 07 November 2019

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Yarra Ranges Council is raising concerns about impacts on community members, in light of the State Government’s announcement that native forest timber harvesting will end by 2030 and that supply to timber mills be substantially reduced from 2024.

The Timber Industry is at the economic heart of some of Yarra Ranges’ smaller towns, and directly employs 420 people and countless others in ancillary and service industries.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Tony Stevenson, said he was extremely concerned on behalf of community members working in the timber industry.

“We know that families have been experiencing a great deal of uncertainty, stress and anxiety about their futures for some time,” Cr Stevenson said.

“Today’s news advises them of the State’s position, but we think there’s still work to be done so workers, families and local timber businesses know the way forward and what support might be available for them.

“It is critically important that every effort is made by the State Government to support transition to new local jobs and opportunities in our Upper Yarra towns. We need local jobs to keep our communities vibrant, to support local services and underpin the many community volunteer activities.     

“We acknowledge the State Government’s announcement of $120 million to ensure that the industry is supported during this transition. Our communities want to see guarantees from the Government that timber industry workers in the Yarra Ranges will receive support during this period of upheaval.

Council will write to the State Government, seeking information and guarantees about what will be provided locally to community members impacted by the transition.

O’Shannassy Ward Councillor, Jim Child said that the timber industry has had an extensive history in the region and provides economic stability for towns in the Upper Yarra.

“The native forest timber industry has been a significant part of the history of areas such as Healesville and Warburton and of the current economy in towns across O’Shannassy Ward in the Upper Yarra, such as Yarra Junction, Wesburn, Gladysdale and Powelltown,” Cr Child said.

“This history dates back more than 100 years, and we acknowledge the work done by timber industry workers to support the communities in that time, particularly during the recovery from the 1939 bushfires which devastated the region.

“We have 420 community members working directly in the industry with families to support, with countless others working in the supply chain.

“We know the forestry, logging, sawmill, wood and paper manufacturing industry generates $215 million in economic output and $104 million in exports, and we value the work that our timber industry has provided locally.

“We know the community has a long and difficult road ahead of them now.

“We will write to the State Government to get more information about this decision, and what support will be provided locally.”