In May 2017, Murrindindi Shire Council adopted a Statement detailing views about future management of the Central Highlands Forests.
Mayor Charlie Bisset said Council was aware of the importance to our communities of prioritising economic development and jobs growth to ensure a prosperous future for the Shire.
“We also know that people want to maintain the fantastic natural environment in which we live and value the landscapes and forests around us. We wanted to ensure the Statement about the Central Highlands Forests got this balance right,” Cr Bisset said.
In adopting the Statement, Council acknowledged the complexities of managing the Central Highlands Forests.
Council also wanted the Statement to reflect a commitment to protecting and enhancing the economic future of the Murrindindi Shire and to work with the timber and related industries to support the inevitable change.
Council recently met the Shire’s industry representatives to discuss their views about the future of their industry and listened to their concerns about the Statement.
“Council understands the entire logging industry is under pressure and that those involved in the sector within the Shire are concerned for the future.
“This is a sector which has gone through immense change and significant job losses over the last ten years across the State, including in Murrindindi Shire. In Victoria, there has been a 25 per cent reduction in the harvest of Mountain Ash (and similar species) from native forests since 2009. VicForests is now predicting a further 40 per cent reduction in the harvest of Ash timber species will occur between 2017 and 2020/21”, said Cr Bisset.
“The VicForests Resource Outlook shows the available timber resources will not support sustained harvesting at current levels in the long term. It is likely that harvesting volumes in the Shire will decline in coming years. We don’t want to – and simply cannot – ignore this”.
“Instead we want to ensure we help support the change that is coming in a way that ensures a secure economic future and jobs in this area and supports the families in our communities.”
“The Statement calls on investment from State Government to help achieve this. We will shortly be meeting with the Minister for Environment, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, and will discuss with her a list of priority projects the Government can invest in to advance this,” Cr Bisset said.
“We know from Council’s ‘Have Your Say’ engagement that people are really keen for us to prioritise economic development and jobs growth in the Shire. We also heard another message loud and clear – that our communities really value the natural environment”.
“We can work to ensure the whole community benefits over the long term from sustainable management of our forests. Sustainable management of these important resources can lead to the possibility of other future uses of the forests,” Cr Bisset said.
Council’s Statement on Management of the Central Highlands Forests can be found at www.murrindindi.vic.gov.au/forests.
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