This rant was written by Kersten Gentle

Everyone knows I have sawdust running through my veins and I am a passionate supporter of both the native and plantation-based forest industries.

My grandfather was a sawmiller and native forest contractor and the areas he harvested were regenerated by foresters, like my Great Uncle Bob, and now those same forests have been harvested by friends in the forest industry.

Foresters are the reason our State Forests are the envy of the world and why insatiable greens want to lock them up. They have high biodiversity whilst producing some of the best quality hardwood products in the world.

Do National Parks share the same biodiversity? Forget that we have National Parks, State Parks and other reserves that are the envy of the world, the focus is always on the small parcels of forest available for harvesting.

Yet, a Supreme Court Judge has placed an injunction on all forest harvesting in the East of Victoria. Premier Daniel Andrews had planned to close the industry down in 2030, but that’s not early enough for some.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, all coupes must be reassessed and harvesting techniques changed. The rulings are nearly impossible to achieve without compromising the safety of contractors or being financially feasible.

All contractors working in the East of the state have been stood down and their future is unknown. Orbost in East Gippsland had 36% of their fulltime employment wiped out with the stroke of a pen.

So, where are we going to get our hardwood from? Plantations is the answer according to those fighting to destroy the native industry.

Photo courtesy of Felicia Stevenson – Contractors, industry and community come together in Morwell to protest against the decision to close down their industry.

What plantations? There are limited hardwood plantations in the country, with nothing substantial in Victoria. The Strzelecki’s were a hardwood plantation, but that was turned in to a National Park, so why would anyone in Victoria invest in hardwood plantations?

The Western Australian Government is following in the footsteps of the Andrews Government by closing down their sustainable native industry.  Our country will be reliant on importing hardwood products from overseas, and unfortunately from some countries who have no environmental credentials.

If you are talking to your friends, your neighbours, work colleagues or politicians don’t get into the debate about the industry, instead, ask what the solution is.

There is no solution that creates a greener future, there is no solution to providing jobs for these workers and there is definitely no solution as to how towns such as Orbost will survive.

These solutions must be found before anyone loses their jobs and the sustainable native industry is closed. 

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