East Gippsland firewood merchants and timber harvesters are warning this winter’s firewood shortage is likely just a foretaste of a permanent shortage should the government proceed with its plans to end native timber harvesting in the state.
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, says the suspension of timber harvesting after the bushfires is the major reason for the current firewood shortage in some areas, with a number of suppliers and consumers reporting only ‘green’ (recently cut) wood is available.
“Harvesters and firewood suppliers have warned that if Labor’s planned removal of the industry takes place, firewood will be much more difficult to obtain.
“For many householders the use of firewood is an efficient and cost-effective means to heat their homes and this winter’s limited stocks has left them having to get through on meagre supplies.
“The clock is counting down for those who access the low-cost firewood collection that is largely a by-product of timber harvesting operations.
“The Government is saying it will transition the native timber industry to hardwood plantations, which is good in theory, but even the Premier won’t answer where these plantations are or what quantities will be ready for harvest in ten year’s time in Victoria.
“That’s because the plantations don’t exist.
“I have been in contact with DELWP to see if bushfire salvage logs can be made available to firewood merchants to increase supply in the short term and overcome the current shortages and I’m confident that a solution is in hand.
“But in the longer term, the Andrews Government has no solution – there’s no plantation timber and no thought being given to help households move to alternative heating.
“We have a responsible, sustainable, $7.32 billion timber industry that employs 20,000 Victorians and keeps the home fires burning in winter, killing it off is senseless.”