AFPA welcomes continued Federal Budget support for Australia’s forest industries, but greater focu…

Australia’s forest products sector welcomes the Federal Government’s ongoing support in the 2024-25 Federal Budget, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Diana Hallam said today.

“The Budget builds on the Australian Government’s investment since 2022 to boost timber and wood fibre supply, enhance manufacturing productivity, develop strategic industry policy planning and fund training and skills.

“The $3.4 million provided over four years in this Budget for development of a National Timber Fibre Strategy and a review of the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement ($1.8 million) with the states and territories will help industry plan for the long-term. Additional measures announced in biosecurity and firefighting, including aerial capabilities, are also acknowledged and appreciated.”

AFPA also welcomes the $48 million over four years to implement further reforms to the Australian Carbon Credit Unit scheme, including the establishment of a Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee to oversee the new proponent led method development. AFPA has developed a new proponent-led method to encourage timber in the built environment which can reduce embodied emissions in midrise building by around 50 per cent.

Acknowledging the Government’s $11 billion investment in housing, Diana Hallam said, “AFPA would focus its attention on working with the Government to promote and integrate Australian forest products into its housing, climate and economic agendas. You cannot build housing without materials and timber is a key climate friendly material that will help Australia meet its net-zero by 2050 goals that were recommitted to in this Budget.

“As outlined in AFPA’s How Timber Can Help Solve Australia’s Housing Crisis launched in conjunction with Master Builders Australia this week, our industry has the timber ready to go right now to build the homes of tomorrow, 50,000 more homes annually in fact. It’s therefore disappointing no immediate measures to harness this opportunity have been included in the Budget, especially in light of plans for 40,000 new social and affordable homes under the Housing Australia Future Fund and Housing Accord.

“While there is also a big Budget focus on new technologies and the Future Made in Australia Strategy, there is little evidence that the Government has considered the increased role Australia’s forest products sector can play. Many countries have identified green business opportunities as they progress towards net-zero that involve forestry industries, Australia should be no different.

“The forest, wood and paper products sector is Australia’s sixth largest manufacturing industry and forestry plays a unique role in climate change mitigation. Timber is an economic carbon capture and storage technology which works at scale. Not only do our trees sequester carbon whilst growing, but once harvested, the timber is a permanent, or long lived, store of carbon in the built environment. And, in Australia, every tree harvested in forestry is replaced with at least another tree.

“The power of embodied carbon in timber and wood as a climate solution that will help Australia meet its emission reduction targets is a proven technology that can help Australia transition to net-zero,” Diana Hallam concluded.

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