According to Timberbiz, the Australian government will be announcing a cash-grant scheme to help foresters and farmers in 11 declared regional forest hubs establish new softwood and hardwood plantations.
The AU$86 million investment in forestry aims to plant up to 150 million trees in the next five years. The government “expects” that the states, territories and industry will provide at least $300m in investment.
Foresters and farmers can apply for the government grants, which must be equally matched by private investment, to plant either softwood or hardwood forests.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the cash-grant scheme together with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Tasmania.
“This programme is about getting more trees in the ground and securing an Australian supply of timber for future generations,” Morrison said.
“Australia has 1.77 million hectares of plantations and we want that to grow further, that’s why we’re making the largest investment of any Australian government in this space for more than 30 years. Getting more trees in the right places will help to meet future demand for wood products, which at a global scale is expected to quadruple by 2050.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud commented that the scheme will also create jobs in regional Australia not just in the planting phase, but also in 25 or 30 years’ time when that wood needs to be harvested and processed into products: “We want to partner with states and territories who own and manage forestry resources to plan for the future and turbocharge this industry. Forestry is a renewable, sustainable industry that continues to create jobs in the regions and delivers quality, Australian-made products for this country.”
Between 2014 and 2020, Australia has experienced a huge decrease in commercial plantation area, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
This prompted Australian Forest Products Association and Master Builders Australia to call on the government to “fast track” the billion trees plan and add 400,000 ha of plantation timber by 2030.