Support a sustainable firewood future
The Melbourne firewood market is by far Victoria's largest, and delivers the highest prices to growers.
However, this market is currently restricted by the uncompetitive pricing of wood products from public land by the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
The VNPA would like to see the Victorian Government support a sustainable firewood future by giving dryland farmers and others considering land use change an opportunity to diversify and develop new business opportunities.
Regional development, landholder opportunities and biodiversity are all important components in supporting a sustainable firewood future for Victoria.
The VNPA would like to see the Victorian Government:
- Fund a program to encourage private agro-forestry across northern Victoria ($8 million over eight years*) from existing and new funds.
- Remove artificial barriers and subsidies from wood products coming from public land.
- Commit to "community woodlots" in regional communities.
- Ask the Department of Regional Development to oversee the program.
A key recommendation from the River Red Gum Community Engagement Panel report was that the government "should actively support the development of dryland, mixed species agro-forestry in the River Red Gum region to assist in providing local firewood".
Such a move could include incentives to landholders to invest in agro-forestry, which could then be linked to existing programs and help tackle salinity, improve biodiversity and store carbon.
Unspent funds from the River Red Gum structural adjustment package should form part of this package.
The VNPA believes these initiatives would be well received by regional communities, farm forestry groups and that it would have the support of leading agro-forestry proponents and cooperatives.