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Ministers On Timber Plantations

Media ReleasesThe Hon Wilson Tuckey MPMinister for Forestry and Conservation

AFFA99/85TU 21 July 1999

MINISTERS' 2020 VISION FOR TIMBER PLANTATIONS

The nation's forestry Ministers have agreed to seize the opportunity for further expansion of Australian timber plantations by driving the implementation of the plantation sector's development strategy, Plantations for Australia: the 2020 Vision.

Meeting in Darwin recently, the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture welcomed the increase in Australia's area of timber plantations by more than 211,000 hectares, or more than 20 per cent, over the four-year period 1995-98. The target of trebling the plantation area by 2020 is now on track.

Plantation planting has increased from 30,000 hectares in 1995 to the current level of 60,000 hectares a year. Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Wilson Tuckey praised the commitment of Australia's timber plantation sector.

Australia's timber plantation industry, which includes large and small companies, individual investors, farmers and State forestry agencies, is making a significant contribution to the future economic viability of many communities around Australia.

"We are seeing an unprecedented level of timber plantation expansion in Australia with much of the new planting being fast-growing eucalypts which will be harvested after around ten years and used primarily for paper making," Mr Tuckey said.

"This resource will complement the much larger and steadily expanding softwood plantation resource which is managed over longer timeframes to produce timber for construction, furniture manufacture, reconstituted boards and many other products.

"Many millions of dollars are being invested every year in planting new plantations and establishing the facilities to process the wood. We now have several large institutional investors owning timber plantations in Australia. "These investors have recognised that timber growing is a long-term investment with the capacity to provide a stable income stream. We hope that they will continue to invest a small proportion of their funds in expanding Australia's timber production capacity."

The 2020 Vision strategy was launched in October 1997, and has made significant progress in encouraging plantation growing but Ministers agreed that further action was required to remove the remaining impediments to plantation expansion.

"Because of the long-term nature of an investment in timber plantations, growers need a certain and secure political, regulatory and commercial environment," Mr Tuckey said. "This should be one of Australia's great strengths but there is more governments can do to help the plantation sector to get the trees in the ground."

Mr Tuckey renewed his commitment to removing Commonwealth export controls on plantation-sourced wood and resolving outstanding concerns about the adverse impact of the taxation system on long-term investments such as tree growing.

The State and Territory Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to provide secure rights to plant, harvest and trade plantations as outlined in the 2020 Vision.

Mr Tuckey said the Forest and Wood Products Action Agenda currently being developed would help to ensure that Australian wood producers are able to access the best possible market for their products and receive a fair return on their investment.

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