Last week, Queensland Premier Steven Miles, along with Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick launched their government’s landmark 30-year Queensland Sustainable Timber Industry Framework.

The package seeks to balance timber sector jobs, with $200 million in funding securing jobs and supply, with environmental concerns – establishing the new Greater Glider Forest Park.

Timber Queensland, the state’s peak body for the forest and timber industry, has responded to the framework with cautious support.

“A key issue facing the industry is a lack of policy certainty over future access to public and privately managed native forests for sustainable hardwood production, as well as minimal incentives and measures to promote plantation and farm forestry expansion to increase timber supply,” said Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens.

“The Queensland Sustainable Timber Industry Framework policy announced by the Government addresses a number of recommendations put forward by industry, although we remain cautious about the levels of available supply and impacts on the local hardwood sector until we receive further clarification around the policy,” Stephens said.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of the industry for housing materials and the need to build our sovereign capability in timber production which supports local jobs.”

Timber Queensland gave its support to several of the broad policy commitments made by the Government, including:

  • maintaining a baseline with no reduction in timber supply levels between 2025 and the end of 2034 and that industry needs ‘contractual certainty’, which should help provide the confidence for the native hardwood sector to invest where 10 years of state resource security is contractually provided;
  • establishment of a Category F land use, which can provide private native forest owners the confidence to undertake applied management through a long-term right to harvest with an appropriate management plan;
  • support for forestry education and extension services so that farmers and landowners including First Nations can implement best forest management practices to increase timber productivity, environmental and forest health benefits;
  • wood processing innovation support to increase resource recovery and downstream production efficiencies in the sector; and
  • plantation and farm forestry expansion to increase future timber availability.

Timber Queensland said that it will be seeking assurances that:

  • native hardwood permits are issued as soon as possible for permit holders from the former South-East Queensland (SEQ) supply zone through to 2026 based on current contract volumes for compulsory sawlogs, optional sawlogs and poles;
  • longer-term permits through to 2034 are put in place for equivalent volumes within a sustainable yield envelope for former SEQ permit holders as soon as possible;
  • further detail is provided on the agreed state supply volume to be provided through to 2034 including location and resource quality from available crown land;
  • adequate business assistance is provided for transport impacts from the reduction of harvest area in the South-East Queensland Regional Plan Area from January 2025, as well as for permits issued through to 2034 in terms of any changes in resource quality and mix of log grades and products from the sourcing of equivalent volumes from other crown land;
  • the ‘Category F’ instrument be explored as an alternative environmental control for private native forestry activities, compared to the Vegetation Management Act which targets broad-scale agriculture and is not fit for purpose for sustainable timber production with selective harvesting practices; and
  • priority be given to private native forestry extension which has significant potential to grow and increase timber supply over the next few decades.

Stephens noted, “Another issue has been a lack of investment in new plantations and farm forestry plantings. We are keen to work with government to promote the right trees in the right place for future timber supply.

“Major impediments for farmers include high-up front costs of tree establishment, limited access to forestry management expertise and lack of awareness of the on-farm benefits such as shade and shelter for livestock and supplementary income from timber and carbon sequestration.”

He called the $200 million funding commitment “significant” and said, “if implemented appropriately [it] can position the industry with an opportunity to increase timber supply for housing and construction demand.

“Our mission is to protect and grow the Queensland timber industry and we will continue to hold the government of the day to account in terms of commitments, barriers and opportunities for growth,” Stephens concluded. 

MAIN PIC: From left: Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders, Deputy Premier Cameron Dick, Premier Steven Miles, Mark Raguse of the AWU and Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour at the policy launch.