Timber shortages and red tape hindering flood recovery efforts

NSW Farmers is calling for a practical approach to farm forestry on private land.

NSW FARMERS say government red tape is hampering efforts to rebuild homes in flood-ravaged areas amidst a critical timber shortage.

Bronwyn Petrie from the NSW Farmers Conservation and Resource Management Committee said $2 billion a year was being spent on importing timber to rebuild homes while barriers to harvesting sent timber prices soaring and prevented local workers from doing their jobs.

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The situation was getting so dire in some areas, Mrs Petrie said, that the timber industry would be wiped out in those areas, making building supplies even more expensive and limiting farm income.

“We’ve got a serious housing shortage in NSW – rents are skyrocketing, interest rates are going up, and house prices are at record highs as well,” Mrs Petrie said.

“It’s made worse in areas that need rebuilding after fires and floods where people are still living in tents, with these critical timber shortages resulting in higher construction prices for homes, businesses and other infrastructure.

“For years the NSW Government has promised to sort out this over-regulation and thoughtless red tape and now jobs and housing supply are at crisis point.”

NSW Farmers welcomed changes to the Private Native Forestry Code earlier this year, but Mrs Petrie said she was still waiting for promised changes to forestry plans and dual consent.

As part of the forestry review it was clearly identified that increasing forestry plans from fifteen to 30 years and removing dual consent requirements were key to the continuation and growth of farm forestry.

“Australian forestry is all about sustainability, it makes no sense to be importing timber from some fundamentally unregulated overseas forests when our own heavily regulated forests are available on the doorstep, providing high quality timbers while supporting farmers and local industries, and importantly delivering economic and environmental outcomes,” Mrs Petrie said.

Mrs Petrie said NSW Farmers was calling for a practical approach to farm forestry on private land, which would provide a “win-win” in terms of job creation, building supplies, farm income diversity and disaster preparedness.

“The north of the state has been devastated by floods, and a few years ago they were devastated by fires, and demand for housing materials has led to a critical shortage of timber for construction,” Mrs Petrie said.

“Allowing farmers recovering from fire and floods to diversify their operations with the certainty provided by 30 year farm forestry plans and removal of dual consent will also support the contractors and timber mills that are on their knees.

“We need 30-year approvals that meet the reality of natural timber growth cycles – administered by the specialised team in Local Land Services – long-term environmental and productive sustainable forest management, and importantly the rebuilding of our flood and fire-ravaged areas.”

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