Leslie White | November 17, 2010
A RE-ELECTED Labor Government in Victoria would scrap government native forest logging agency VicForests.
A new agency which would consider “water, carbon and other forest values” and logging issues would be created instead.
Premier John Brumby also pledged $1 million for Tasmanian-style round-table discussions on the future of the industry, however government would not participate despite being responsible for almost all native forest logging in Victoria.
Victorian Association of Forest Industries chief executive Philip Dalidakis said the VAFI was “not opposed to competing with other resource users when it comes to public resources”.
“However . . . until we see the fine print, we can only provide qualified support,” Mr Dalidakis said.
Mr Dalidakis welcomed “the opportunity to enter into a constructive discussion concerning the future of both native and plantation forestry in Victoria”.
Australian National University forest industry economist Dr Judith Ajani said government needed to engage in any discussion.
“They are the wood sellers, they are a major player, the power is with them,” Dr Ajani said.
“The talkfest is basically window dressing.”
Dr Ajani said VicForests would need to be replaced, not “dressed up in new clothes”.
VicForests had “no history of looking after native forests for biodiversity” which was the “absolute starting point” for securing carbon and water values, she said.
The Victorian coalition has pledged to restructure the board of VicForests to include industry stakeholders, should it be elected.
It promised to place VicForests under the “sole direction” of the agriculture minister and flagged reducing the number of years required between harvesting some native forest from 80 to 50 years for “faster growing trees”.
VicForests had this year lost a court case to the East Gippsland Environment Group which effectively ruled its logging on Brown Mountain was in breach of its conditions.
Some VicForests contractors and customers have called for it to end woodchipping of native forest for export – half its woodchips are exported to Japan.