Council to apply for Timber Harvest Transition grant

Published on 12 November 2021

Powelltown from the sky

Council will apply for a Victorian Government Grant to fund a Local Development Strategy, with the goal of supporting communities in the Upper Yarra through the timber industry’s transition out of Victorian public forests.

At their meeting on Tuesday, 9 November, Councillors voted to apply to the Victorian Government’s Forestry Local Development Strategy Grant Program for $400,000 in funding to create a Local Development Strategy for Upper Yarra communities.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Cr Jim Child, said that Council would apply for funding to develop a strategy with communities in Powelltown, Yarra Junction and Warburton.

“Because there’s not really one representative group for the region of those three towns, the State Government has agreed that the best agency to prepare a strategy is Local Government,” Cr Child said.

“I think this is where we step up to the plate, and we can do that quite well.

“This will involve our community – through a process where we elect a committee or a People’s Panel, to lead this process and generate great ideas that provide jobs and give great outcomes to our communities.”

The Local Development Strategy, which will be created with community representatives from each area and local expertise, will aim to:

  • Support the community’s transition away from native timber harvesting in Victorian public forests
  • Lead to the creation of new jobs in sustainable industries; and
  • Result in long-term economic and social benefits for each community.

In 2019, the State Government announced a plan to phase out native forest harvesting in Victorian public forests by 2030, with $120 million provided to support the transition of workers, communities and businesses over the coming years.

In March of this year, the State Government announced their Forestry Local Development Strategy Grant Program, with $4 million in funding available for grants across communities that will be impacted by the transition.

If Council is successful with its grant application, a volunteer committee will be established with balanced representation from Powelltown, Yarra Junction and Warburton to develop the strategy.

Council would appoint a Project Manager and Administration resource to oversee the project and run studies for the strategy.

Ryrie Ward Councillor, Cr McAllister, said Council’s grant application followed numerous meetings with the State Government about the timber industry transition, and the impact on local communities.

“I hope we never lose sight of how substantial the transition for the timber industry is,” Cr McAllister said.

“It has a 100 year, plus, history, and when you talk to so many of the families that live in the Yarra Ranges, they talk about a fourth-or-fifth generation family involvement in the industry.

“The role we’re looking to take is, really, supporting our community in the way we should. Any Local Government is about improving quality of life for our community.

“In this particular undertaking, it is to make sure we do everything we can to work with communities most affected, in a way that gives them a strong voice and ownership of whatever the future may hold for them, in terms of their jobs, families and the local economy.”

Council will update the community on the result of the grant application once results are made available.