Tasmanian govt pledges to invest heavily in forestry sector
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With new data revealing a major rise in the private forest harvest in Tasmania over the last year, the government has promised to invest heavily in the sector to ensure that it is given every chance to continue to become a major boon for the local economy.
The figures showed that there was a rise of 48.5 per cent in the private forest harvest in 2015, an impressive boost which took place under a majority Hodgman Liberal Government that has always made it clear that it backs the sector.
The sustainable future of the sector is a major focus for the government, it has been confirmed, such is its ongoing importance to the regional communities across Tasmania. Indeed, the advice given by Forestry Tasmania (FT) is that ever greater resource security is secured in order to make sure growth is ongoing and the Government Business Enterprise is placed onto a solid commercial footing.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the dramatic rise was a sign the industry was strengthening; however he went on to say that the increase was mostly in plantations, rather than in native forests.
“Most of those figures relate to turnover in the plantation sector, but also there’s a 90 per cent increase in the native forest sector,” he said, in relation to calls from Forestry Tasmania to lift a moratorium on logging for 400,000 hectares reserved until the year 2020 in order that struggling firms are able to meet contractual obligations.
As well as confidence being boosted in forestry, confidence in production, job-creating investment and exports have also risen. Indeed, according to Private Forestry Tasmania, the total private forest harvest, which comprises hardwood plantations and native forests, rose by 950,000 tonnes over the course of this year and the year prior, to just under three millions tonnes, These figures were the highest recorded in the last eight years.
Wood products also rose to over three million tonnes over the course of this year to June, according to the latest export statistics from TasPorts, which was the highest level recorded in five years. Investors and companies across Tasmania have also been showing strong interest in the Tasmanian Government’s new $1.25 million Wood and Fibre Processing Innovation Programme, representing yet another positive sign for the industry.
Firms with major links to the forest sector are also starting to boost their investments, such as Tasmania’s largest native forest saw miller, Neville Smith Forest Products, which recently announced that it is to spend $1.3 million on the expansion and creation of new, forestry-related jobs across a number of regional communities.
The Liberal Government has also pledged to continue to work alongside the local forestry industry in order to boost and maintain the strong growth currently being enjoyed by the sector.
GWD Forestry spokesman, James Barrett, said: “There is no question that the rising success of Tasmania’s forestry industry is a boon for the local economy and will attract investors from both local and international spheres, eager to obtain a slice of the pie. Having a Government in place that has pledged to focus on the growth and maintenance of this important industry will also allow it to go from strength to strength.”