Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

New timber industry taskforce formed

Mathoura timber worker Chris Crump believes a newly formed timber industry taskforce will do wonders for the local area.

TYLA HARRINGTON July 18, 2014 3:45am

NRick Colless, Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick, Ian and Ben Danckert, Russell and Joan Douglas, David Landini and Deniliquin Council general manager Des Bilske at Wednesday’s meeting.

A viable local timber industry needs to be returned to the region, and a newly formed taskforce may just achieve it, according to Mathoura timber worker Chris Crump.

The new taskforce was formed after NSW Forest Industries Taskforce chair Rick Colless met with about 17 timber industry stakeholders at the Deniliquin RSL Club on Wednesday.

This will be the second taskforce formed by the government in reaction to the state forests’ conversion to National Parks in 2010, which effectively shut down the local timber industry.

Although the Riverina Community Firewood and Home Heating Taskforce has so far failed to get the timber industry back up and running in some capacity, Mr Crump, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said the new taskforce would be different.

‘‘This taskforce is bigger and there’s a lot of people in Mathoura and Deniliquin involved or on the taskforce,’’ Mr Crump said.

‘‘It’s more than home heating, it’s about our forest and the disgrace they’re in, and changing that.’’

‘‘You just have to look at our area (Mathoura) and see that a viable timber industry is what it needs.

‘‘I’m very happy Rick as the chair. I think he’ll listen.

‘‘I have to believe that this taskforce will be the one to do it (open the forest to timber workers).’’

Mr Colless said the main aim of the taskforce would be to allow the community to put forward their proposals to the government.

He said he would like to see a viable timber industry back in the Riverina.

‘‘We’ve had the debate about converting National Parks back to state forest and I don’t think that’s the direction we need to take,’’ Mr Colless said.

‘‘But we need to have the public land as something else, different to what are National Parks and state forests.

‘‘Forestry operations in the Riverina have experienced difficult times due to previous government policies, yet the redgum forest industries are uniquely placed to provide solutions to issues of regional development, public land management reform and the increased sustainable use of natural resources.

‘‘The time is right for the redgum forestry sector and the government to reposition the industry and to promote and deliver on the positive outcomes from forest activities, addressing the often negative perceptions associated with forest industries.’’

Mr Colless said there was no timeline as to when the change may occur.

‘‘It requires major change in public land and it’s not going to happen over night. It’s a long-term goal.’’

And Mr Crump says it’s a long-term goal he’s willing to wait for.

On Wednesday the taskforce resolved to seek membership of the NSW Forest Industries Taskforce and to prepare submissions for the taskforce to take forward to the NSW Government to reconstitute the redgum industry in the Riverina.

Local forestry operator Russell Douglas was elected as the taskforce chair, with Joan Douglas as executive officer.

A further meeting of the taskforce will be held within a month with agenda items expected to include reviewing the thinning and grazing trials in the redgum parks, seeking release of reports previously archived by the NSW National Parks, and an invitation to the NSW Forest Industries Taskforce to hold their next regional meeting in the Riverina to inspect the redgum forests in the region.

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