With the news that Australian Sustainable Hardwoods intends to close its Heyfield mill, the Andrews Government must lead to create a sustainable industry and to protect Victoria's forests.
“Victorians want solutions that protect the environment and put industry on a truly sustainable footing, including to secure regional jobs—both in the industry and in the other significant sectors of tourism and agriculture,” said Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager Amelia Young.
“This a very difficult time for Heyfield workers who have been let down by bad management.
“The logging industry has long-needed reform to secure its future, after years of overlogging combined with the disastrous impacts of the 2009 bushfires. The industry’s failure to act in a timely fashion has, in part, led to the announcement about the Heyfield sawmill closure.
“The Andrews Government now needs to pursue solutions that put the pulp, paper and timber industry on a firm and sustainable footing, create long-term jobs in progressive industries, and achieve conservation outcomes.
“All members of the Victorian Forest Industry Taskforce—including the logging industry—agreed in the taskforce’s Statement of Intent that new parks and reserves are required and that threatened native wildlife must be provided for.*
“One such proposal is the Great Forest National Park, which would be a huge tourism drawcard for the region, would create hundreds of jobs and add millions of dollars to the local economy.”
Victoria’s proposed Great Forest National Park would draw almost 380,000 extra visitors a year to the Central Highlands, add $71 million annually to the local economy and generate 760 jobs with a little private investment, according to a report by the Nous Group, commissioned by the Wilderness Society.
Even without private investment, simply declaring the national park, improving park infrastructure and visitor management, and establishing the Healesville-to-Eildon hiking trail, could generate 520 jobs, attract an extra 242,000 visitors a year and add $48 million annually to the economy in 10 years’ time and growing.
For further comment, contact:
Wilderness Society National Director, Lyndon Schneiders, on 0451 633 200.
Wilderness Society Victoria Campaign Manager, Amelia Young, on 0404 074 577.
For more information, contact:
Wilderness Society Media Adviser, Alex Tibbitts, on 0416 420 168.