Forum highlights forestry opportunities

Rural

Forum highlights forestry opportunities


OPPORTUNITIES in the forestry industry were highlighted at a North East Victorian stakeholder’s forum held at Wangaratta on April 20.

The forum, convened by HVP’s general manager northern region, Anne Partridge, was held to introduce stakeholders in the region to the Murray Region Forestry Hub (MRFH) and get their input.

The Murray region is home to one of the largest softwood–plantation forestry industries in Australia.

The MRFH is one of 11 Commonwealth funded regional forestry hubs set up across Australia to explore the impediments and opportunities to develop the timber industry.

It covers about 3.5 million hectares in the area east of the Hume Freeway, west of the Great Dividing Range, south of Gundagai, and takes in plantations in North East Victoria down to Lake Eildon.

Key hub towns in NSW are Tumut, Tumbarumba, Gundagai, while in Victoria the main centers for the industry are Myrtleford, Wangaratta and Benalla.

Ms Partridge said the forum received excellent input from around 20 regional stakeholders including local government, growers, and industry.

“About halfway through the forum, we split into workshops to brainstorm issues,” she said.

“The main challenges and concerns discussed included overcoming workforce shortages, community relations, timber shortage and climate change.”

“Overall, the forum, gave us a good awareness of the role of the hub and the avenues stakeholders have to influence the future of the timber industry and ensure its success in North East Victoria.”

MRFH economic consultant Diana Gibbs and executive officer Phil Clements gave an overview of the hub and outlined its progress to date and projects proposed for the future including a wide–reaching community engagement program.

MRFH chairman Peter Crowe said the forum was ideally timed to ensure that issues and projects relevant to North East Victoria could be included in the review of the hub’s strategic plan.

“The workshops facilitated by HVP’s manager safety and community, Prue Day, helped identify issues and opportunities for the industry and communities in North East Victoria and review how these requirements fitted with the hub’s existing strategic plan,” he said.

Mr Crowe said opportunities for plantation-grown wood were boundless.

“Australia has the opportunity to move towards self–sufficiency in forest products and the current global turmoil in timber and forest products markets is a clear indication of the necessity to expand the wood production base in Australia,” he said.

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