The Limestone Coast will benefit from additional support to help Australia’s agricultural and sustainable forestry industries recover from the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP said the measures would provide critical support for primary producers, accelerating the economic recovery of industries hardest hit by the bushfires.

“Our Government is committed to supporting Australian agriculture and forestry businesses and understands the importance of primary producers to regional economies and community recovery,” Mr Pasin said.

“These measures will not only provide support where it is needed right now, but are a valuable investment into stronger and more resilient primary industries and rural communities into the future.”

“The unprecedented bushfires across Australia over the 2019-20 summer have hit the forestry sector, not only in locations where fires directly destroyed plantations and processing facilities but right across the entire sector.

“Since then, the forestry industry has also had to deal with the impacts of a global pandemic.

“These additional measures will provide immediate community benefits and economic stimulus for the forestry sector, including the Limestone Coast, to assist in economic recovery and plan for the future.”

A $40 million Forestry Recovery Development Fund has been established for grants that support processors navigate future wood supply shortages through innovation and product diversification.

The fund will assist the industry in developing and implementing innovative solutions that diversify future risks and allow for a more adaptive and resilient industry. This could include upgrading downstream remanufacturing facilities to broaden their capabilities from basic sawmilling to include processing into construction grade materials through processes such as finger jointing, and cross lamination.

This will provide industry with improved capacity to process salvaged wood (and accommodate the structural properties of the fire-affected wood) and diversify their product range, as well as upskill employees by improving their capabilities.

The devastating bushfires earlier this year impacted more than 2 million hectares of Australia’s productive forests.

Approximately 129,200 hectares, or 6.6 per cent, of Australia’s commercial plantation forests were impacted by the recent fires, along with around 2 million of hectares of native forests and a number of regionally significant processing mills.

Delivered through a competitive grants process, applicants may be eligible for between $1 million and $5 million in assistance, for completion of projects within three years.

To be eligible for grants under the Forestry Recovery Development Fund, applicants will need to demonstrate the direct or indirect impact the 2019-20 bushfires have had on their business and how the proposal would benefit their business, community, and the forestry industries more broadly.

Further information, including comprehensive eligibility criteria, will be made available soon.

Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466