Victoria’s state Auditor-General has released the performance report showing that VicForests is managing Victorian public native timber estate in a sustainable fashion.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh has commended the work of the state-owned timber manager saying that the report Managing Victoria’s Native Forest Timber Resources was a testament to the claim and that Victorians can be confident that VicForests is managing the public timber in a sustainable manner.
According to him, the Auditor General’s findings confirm that the measures taken by the Victorian Coalition Government to provide long-term security for the forest industry had produced effective results, reveals the media release featured on the official website of the Premier of Victoria.
“The Victorian Coalition Government promised to manage Victoria’s public native timber resource responsibly and sustainably and this audit confirms we are delivering on that commitment,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Auditor-General found that VicForests is demonstrating its capability to manage risk and environmental, economic and social sustainability issues. VicForests also uses an accurate and reliable approach to estimate the sustainable harvest rate, an approach it continually improves.“
Minister Walsh highlighted the importance of the findings as the Auditor-General report also took into consideration VicForests commercial performance which is under pressure from “legal expenses caused by a marked increase in litigation by environmental groups.”
The report comes after the Court of Appeals unanimously supported the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss applications by MyEnvironment seeking to restrain logging in the three coupes in the Central Highlands.
Since coming to power, the Coalition has reshuffled the board of VicForests to include people with strong management skills and industry experience.
According to the findings of the report, “the board is making VicForests more accountable for its actions and has improved risk management, identified new business opportunities and is addressing obstacles to further development”.
The Victorian Coalition Government has also provided resource security after passing amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004, which now allocates the timber to VicForests indefinitely, rather than for 15 years.
“We understand the contribution the timber industry makes to local communities such as Cann River, Orbost and Healesville,” Mr Walsh said.
“These actions have provided the industry with certainty after Labour slashed the amount of available timber, forcing mills to close and causing the loss of hundreds of jobs. In 2011-2012 Victoria’s timber industry directly employed more than 21,000 people and generated around $1.78 billion for the state’s economy.”