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Govt cuts red tape for forestry industry

Private forestry operators will gain access to the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, under a federal government proposal to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional jobs and support investment in the sector.

The government will simplify access to carbon funding for new forestry projects in five regional forestry hubs, including communities hard hit by last summer’s bushfires, Energy and Emissions Reduction minister Angus Taylor says.

This will enable the forestry sector to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

“Reducing red tape for projects located in the five Regional Forestry Hubs will support regional jobs and investment, including in communities hard hit by last summer’s bushfires,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“This will make it easier for the private sector to invest in new Australian forestry projects, supporting jobs and reducing emissions.”

The ERF has committed $1.9 billion to projects in regional and rural areas since 2014, with more funding available through the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund.

The government says that through the CSF, it is targeting “dollar-for-dollar co-investment to drive $4 billion of investment in emissions reduction projects across Australia”.

Major paper manufacturer Visy has described the decision as a “triple win” for the economy, the environment and the community.

“This important rule change is welcome news to Visy, Australia’s Forestry Industry and the 55,000 jobs it supports because it means new plantations, new investment and most importantly new jobs in regional forestry areas,” a spokesman said in a statement.

“The plan calls for establishing an initial footprint of new plantations of more than 20 million trees requiring an investment of over $200 million with scope for further investment beyond that.”

The initial locations are southwest Western Australia, the ‘Green Triangle’ of South Australia, north/northwest Tasmania, and the northeast and southwest slopes of NSW.

Millions of hectares of forests and plantations were lost during the 2019/20 bushfire season.

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