Minister's pledge to save forestry
FORESTRY Minister John McVeigh has promised to work with Gympie Region's embattled timber industry to provide "a road map to the future."
"We've got a whole new attitude," a staff member told The Gympie Times.
That included, the Minister said, a serious look at increasing access to forest resources by hardwood millers, such as Gympie's Robertson Brothers and Corbett Timbers.
The news was enthusiastically welcomed by the timber industry, with one prominent Gympie forester and conservationist claiming locking up state forests had failed to deliver substantial environmental outcomes.
Peak timber industry body Timber Queensland said the Minister's undertakings were good news.
Chief executive Rod McInnes and chairman Sean Gribble said they were pleased to hear of intentions for "a commonsense process looking at what access is required by hardwood millers to both state forest and plantations".
They said the announcement would also be good news for "the 20,000 local jobs underpinned by the timber industry in Queensland".
"We welcome Mr McVeigh's fresh approach and look forward to working closely to develop a plan that will revive and grow our industry," Mr McInnes said.
Graeme Robertson, mill manager of Gympie's Robertson Brothers mill, said new policies could give the industry new confidence.
"The agreement gives us access to native forests until 2024, after which we are supposed to rely on farmed timber, but I'm not sure where all that is going to come from," he said.
Veteran forestry expert Ernie Rider, formerly a senior forestry official and later a QPWS officer, said the transfer of forestry areas to national park status had not led to environmental benefits, but had greatly damaged an important employment-generating Queensland industry.
He said forestry workers had run a sustainable forest farming operation which had protected rare plants and animals, promoted scenic areas and limited logging.
It had been designed to provide Queenslanders with timber for houses and furniture "in perpetuity," but this promise had been broken with the sale of forestry assets and the move of some areas to national park status.