Gippsland MHR backs calls for timber to be salvaged

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester has backed calls from the the Australian Forest Products Association for a recovery harvesting operation to get underway in the coming weeks and months to recover as much burned trees for timber as possible, before they deteriorate and become unusable.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester has backed calls from the the Australian Forest Products Association for a recovery harvesting operation to get underway in the coming weeks and months to recover as much burned trees for timber as possible, before they deteriorate and become unusable.

GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester has backed the timber industry's efforts to be allowed to salvage native timber from bushfire-affected areas of Gippsland.

Mr Chester has written to federal Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries John Duniam and state Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes to seek their support to supply native timber from bushfire affected areas of Gippsland.

The Australian Forest Products Association wants a recovery harvesting operation to get underway in the coming weeks and months to recover as much of the burned trees for timber as possible, before they deteriorate and become unusable.

The association says the salvage operation will also include removing unburned trees felled during the fire fight to create fire breaks and access routes for fire fighters.

It says salvaging burned trees can improve public safety and reduce the intensity of future fires.

Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Ross Hampton told The Age last week the salvage operation would be "enormous" and the industry was asking for help from state and federal governments to ensure it was successful.

"It is vital that the state and federal governments turn their minds to the enormous bushfire recovery harvesting task that lies ahead," Mr Hampton said.

"The sheer scale of the operation required in the coming weeks and months will require careful planning and government support to ensure as much of these burnt trees that were already designated for timber production can be recovered and delivered to mills in time, so that they don't simply add to the fuel loads in the landscape or become a safety hazard."

Mr Chester said Victoria's forest industry had been dramatically affected by the loss of timber-producing native forests and plantations.

"While I understand timber shortages as a result of these fires may not be evident for some time, I sought the advice of both ministers as to what action was being taken to maintain supply to local mills," he said.

"I also asked what provisions were being made to provide access to allow the salvage of timber that would otherwise go to waste.

"These fires have had an enormous economic impact on Gippsland, including on the timber and forestry sector.

"All levels of government need to work together to maximise and protect local job opportunities, cut red tape and support our communities which are suffering.

"We need to work urgently with businesses and industries that have been directly impacted by the fires, such as the timber industry, to help them to recover as quickly as possible and give their employees job security.

"Skilled timber industry workers have been among the unsung heroes of our bushfire fight and recovery.

"We need to stand by them and their families, acknowledge the contribution they have made and do everything we can to see that they pull through this crisis together with the rest of Gippsland."

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