Latrobe leads way with wood policy

A peak timber industry body has commended Latrobe City Council on its release of a unique draft Wood Encouragement Policy for community consultation.

The policy is council’s vow to promote the use of wood as the preferred material in both the construction and fit out of council buildings and infrastructure, but is not a mandate.

“It’s created quite a ferment of excitement around Australia across the forestry and forest product industry as it became known that council was considering how it might take forward a Wood Encouragement Policy and it would become the first government in Australia to do so,” Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Ross Hampton said.

“There’s lots of councils that have aspirational views about forestry, but Latrobe is a pathfinder for the rest of Australia in having done the hard work in getting a policy onto paper.”

Mr Hampton spoke at Wednesday night’s council meeting before council passed the motion, which will allow residents to comment on the policy until 5 December.

The policy also involves cost comparisons taking into account the long-term benefits of wood, and where possible, sourcing locally produced wood.

Mayor Sharon Gibson said trees, wood and fibre provided for 1325 jobs in Latrobe City, either directly or indirectly.

“Wood is the most environmentally friendly, carbon friendly resource available and we are one of the mainstays of the industry nationally,” Councillor Gibson said.

“This draft policy will allow us to drive hard to attract wood-related development and research into our community.”

Cr Sandy Kam, who initiated the policy in February, said it came after several meetings with industry representatives, during which some issues were identified, but nothing insurmountable.

“The Wood Encouragement Policy helps us recognise and embrace a resource that is available in our region, it is sustainable, it helps open up new venues that we have not considered in the past,” Cr Kam said.

“During this community consultation we will strive to educate our community about the full potential about what this policy can bring to our region.”

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