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Timber towns to spread their wings.

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Last updated: 26 November 2003

Timber towns to spread their wings

DAFF03/257M 26 November 2003

Australian Forestry and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald has applauded a proposal by Timber Towns Victoria to encourage councils in other States to form similar organisations.

Speaking during the Australian Local Government Association conference in Canberra, Senator Macdonald said the formation of several State and Territory organisations, as well as a strong national body, would augur well for the future of the timber industry.

"Local government provides a critical role in influencing public debate, on issues like the need to continue to support native forest management, plantation development and the expansion of new processing capacity," Senator Macdonald said. "The advisory group mooted at today's meeting could provide a national and coordinated approach to common issues relating to the forest and wood products industry."

Since its establishment in 1985, Timber Towns Victoria has provided a strong voice for the Victorian Local Government Association.

"It's important we promote local governments across Australia to get involved with timber and promote wood and wood products as a sustainable resource," Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Macdonald also commended Timber Towns Victoria for its initiative in engaging the RMIT university to undertake a financial and social impact study into the January 2003 fires. This report found that rural and regional communities will continue to feel the effects of these fires for decades, and possibly generations - losses from which some businesses and families may never recover.

Senator Macdonald told delegates that the lack of a coordinated approach to land management contributed to the devastating January 2003 fires.

"These fires, while not the fault of well-meaning community groups, were assisted by the policies implemented by State governments and communities as a direct result of campaigns opposing forest harvesting and management," Senator Macdonald said. "This report highlights the importance of managing our natural and agricultural assets to ensure community benefits are maximised over the long term. "

This study supported the House of Representatives recent report, A Nation Charred: Inquiry into the Recent Australian Bushfires that found four million hectares of burnt and blackened landscape was the result of failing to minimise fuel loads.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483