Clear direction sought on national park

LATROBE City Council wants clarity surrounding a ministerially-appointed taskforce’s ‘statement of intent’ regarding the proposal of a new national park in central Victoria.

The proposed Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands is in an area accessed by Latrobe Valley and Gippsland timber businesses.

Latrobe City mayor Michael Rossiter said council wanted to understand the statement so it could advocate on behalf of the community.

“The timber industry in our region is vital to our economy,” Cr Rossiter said.

“We know that any impact to the capacity for Australian Paper and other timber industry players to source adequate hardwood supply for their operations could potentially have detrimental flow-on effects to our community.

“We are looking at 6000 jobs across regional Victoria that could be directly or indirectly affected.”

Council is seeking clarification about the statement, and Cr Rossiter hopes Latrobe City will be brought into the discussions .

He said council had been a vocal supporter of a sustainable timber industry locally that managed timber harvesting in the region.

The Great Forest National Park proposes to create and add 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands.