Victorian Forestry Plan News

Victorian Timber Innovation Fund paths way for Victorian plantation products

7 July 2021

Heyfield’s Australian Sustainable Hardwoods is set to become the first company in Australia to manufacture engineered plantation floorboards.

The Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) mill in Heyfield and four other businesses would share in more than $2.4 million in grants through the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund.

ASH has received $1.6 million to install a new manufacturing line to produce engineered flooring made from plantation shining gum and radiata pine plywood and to expand both its online and retail outlet. This will make ASH the only company in the country to manufacture this kind of high-value plantation product.

A new retail outlet will sell the floorboards as well as some of their existing products, such as staircase and furniture components. It will also create a market and secure the supply chain for ASH’s expanded line of plantation-based products into the future.

This will help to open new markets as ASH prepares to transition from native timber joinery to products manufactured from plantation timber.

In addition to ASH, four other grant recipients are diversifying their businesses by experimenting with new products using different timber sources:

  • $397,000 for Radial Timber in Yarram to introduce a small log line and experiment with processing plantation timber
  • $246,000 for Longwarry Sawmill in Longwarry to use recycled and reclaimed timber to make new timber products
  • $100,000 for Ryan & McNulty Sawmillers in Benalla to research the potential transition to the production of pine beams from plantations
  • $40,000 for Brunt’s Harvesting in Orbost to undertake a feasibility study for transition to plantation harvesting.

The Victorian Government is working to transition the native forest industry to a range of new opportunities by 2030 through the Victorian Forestry Plan, setting up a strong plantation-based sector.


22 June 2021

A Gippsland timber business is on track to create a new freight terminal thanks to funding under the Victorian Forestry Plan.

Bairnsdale-based Fenning Timbers has received a $700,000 grant for the first stage of the Fenning Intermodal Freight Terminal (FIFT) at the end of the Gippsland rail line.

The $865,000 first stage of the project will use land adjacent to their Bairnsdale mill to meet a growing demand for rail freight in the region.

The establishment of the commercial light rail precinct will also provide better linkages to Melbourne and the rest of the state for Gippsland businesses, in addition to upgrades made to the Gippsland line under the Victorian Freight Plan.

The FIFT is a positive step by Fenning Timbers to utilise their existing land and assets to diversify their business away from only processing native hardwood timber.

Stage 1 of the project will see upgrades to the site including to rail siding, existing infrastructure and improving refuelling, parking and access. In the longer-term, Stage 2 of the project would expand the FIFT’s footprint and build additional warehousing and storage facilities.

The $120 million Victorian Forestry Plan is the biggest ever forestry package that will support workers, businesses and communities. There is a planned transition with a stepped-down approach until 2030 that offers opportunities for the industry to move away from native forestry and diversify into different industries and ways of working.

23 March 2021

The Forestry Business Transition Voucher program has been extended with applications open until 30 November 2021.

The Forestry Business Transition Voucher program offers funding of up to $25,000 (exclusive of GST) per business to engage appropriate professional services to undertake a Business Diagnostic and / or develop a Business Transition Plan. 

The voucher program will provide eligible businesses with support to better understand their business capabilities, options and strategies for transition.

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has identified the businesses as being directly affected by the Victorian Forestry Plan. To apply for support through the program:

  1. Read the Program Guidelines and confirm your eligibility for the program
  2. Identify and engage with a Registered Service Provider and request from them a ‘scope of services’ including a quote
  3. Submit an online application at www.business.vic.gov.au

Please contact your Business Transition Team (details below), call 1800 318 182 or email victorianforestryplan@djpr.vic.gov.au representative for more information.

  • Andrew van der Kaap, Business Transition Support Officer, Gippsland on 0417 992 636
  • Daniel Salzmann, Transition Support Officer, Central Highlands on 0436 811 506
  • Kara Hinton, Business Transition Support Officer, North-East Victoria on 0417 483 803

23 March 2021

Targeted support for communities impacted by changes to native timber harvesting is now available through the Victorian Forestry Plan.

Local Development Strategy grants of up to $400,000 will assist communities to plan for their future economic make-up.

The grants will be available to 11 key communities where native timber harvesting and processing is an important source of jobs and economic activity.

Placing the power in the communities’ hands, the grants will be available to local community-led groups who will be supported by the Victorian Forestry Plan Transition Team and their local council.

Through the grants communities will be able to undertake long-term economic diversification planning to support their local economy, adapt to new industries and build capability to increase job opportunities.

The Local Development Strategy grants are a key element of the Victorian Government’s commitment to ensure that impacted communities are well supported through the transition.

Implementation of the communities’ plans will be supported by the $36 million Victorian Forestry Plan Transition Fund release.

19 March 2021

New funding for research and development can play a key role in shaping the future of the timber industry across Victoria, boosting sustainability, jobs and economic benefits.

The Gippsland Centre of the National Institute for Forestry Products Innovation (NIFPI) is now calling for proposals to conduct research and development for projects totalling $4 million.

Through the first round of grants released today, individual research grants from $50,000 to $500,000 are available in areas including timber product development and improvements to existing ones, non-timber forest products, improved supply chain efficiency and other research priorities identified for the Victorian industry.

The NIFPI Gippsland Centre was established in July 2020 and is a joint initiative between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments. Its committee members were appointed in late 2020 and comprise a diverse range of experience in Victoria’s local timber and forestry industry.

The NIFPI Gippsland Centre is part of the Victorian Forestry Plan’s promotion of research and development opportunities to help diversify the forestry sector.

The initiative compliments the support available through the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund as well as the work being undertaken by the Gippsland Forestry Hub.

Funding proposals for eligible research and development can be made before 14 May 2021.

15 December 2020

On 15 December 2020 VicForests has released the amended Timber Release Plan (TRP) and Timber Utilisation Plan (TUP).

The amendments to the TRP include the addition of 261 new coupes, 33 amended coupes and 6 access requirements. 38 coupes were removed. The approved TUP includes 9 new coupes and 1 amended coupe.

VicForests’ Board approved the amendments to the TRP, in accordance with the requirements of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004, a notice in relation to the amended TRP was published in the Victoria Government Gazette S 662 on Monday 14 December 2020.

The Board also approved the amendments to the TUP in alignment with the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests (2014).

The approved plans provide industry with certainty and help communities to understand where timber harvesting may take place.

All timber harvesting and regeneration operations have and will continue to be conducted in accordance with Victoria’s strict environmental regulations and the State’s Forest Management Zoning scheme.

VicForests’ operations are regulated and monitored by Victoria’s Office of the Conservation Regulator, including through the Victorian Government Forest Audit Program. VicForests is committed to complying with or exceeding regulatory controls to ensure the sustainable management of forest areas.

A schedule of the approved timber harvesting areas as well as location maps are available on the VicForests website at approved TRP and approved TUP .

2 December 2020

A review to determine what actions are required now and into the future to protect, enjoy and use the state’s forests is underway following an agreement between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.

The Major Event Review will assess the significant impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires and what remedial action needs to be taken to ensure our forests continue to be managed appropriately.

The Review is a new feature of the updated Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) which can be conducted jointly by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments when a significant environmental event, including a major bushfire, occurs.

The Review is expected to take six months and will assess the impacts of the fires on forest biodiversity and forestry industries, as well as the wider economic, social and cultural impacts.

An independent panel will lead the Review which will be informed by scientific data and research, Traditional Owner knowledge, forest experts and communities.

The panel membership will include the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, a Commonwealth nominated member agreed to by Victoria and a Traditional Owner member nominated by Victoria. The Victorian Government will shortly be seeking expressions of interest for the Traditional Owner candidate.

The Major Event Review will also provide an opportunity for wider public consultation when a summary report is released for public comment.

The 2019-20 fires were exceptional in size and impact burning approximately 1.5 million hectares across Victoria with around 1.3 million hectares or 18 per cent of Victoria’s public native forest impacted.

More information can be found on the Department of Land, Water and Planning’s website.

9 October 2020

Timber Innovation Grants of up to $100,000 are now available to help timber mills, harvest and haulage businesses explore options and the economics for shifting to plantation fibre or other timber manufacturing opportunities. The program is intended to support Victorian forestry businesses:

  • explore opportunities to process or manufacture using plantation timber feedstock
  • develop new products using plantation timber
  • explore processing, harvest and haulage of alternative fibre
  • investigate downstream manufacturing opportunities using alternative fibre.

Further rounds of the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund are planned for release during 2022.

The grants can help timber businesses take an early step towards new lines of business or a different operating model. It is a key part of the Victorian Forestry Plan and the timeline it sets to transition from harvesting native forests and to a plantation-based sector.

To support forestry and manufacturing jobs over the coming decades, new approaches need to be embraced to take advantage of available timber in the future. The Victorian Timber Innovation Fund is also funding the creation of the Gippsland Centre of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation.

A number of timber mills, harvest and haulage businesses have already taken up transition vouchers to have a diagnostic assessment of their businesses to identify their strengths and opportunities for change. The new innovation grants can provide the impetus to take this further and look at new options for using plantation timber, alternative fibre or new ways of manufacturing.

More information about the Timber Innovation Grants program.

8 October 2020

Expressions of Interest are open for experienced and capable plantation investors, developers and managers who are interested in expanding their plantation forestry portfolio in a manner that is sensitive to environmental and community values and creates jobs.

Successful respondents to the Expressions of Interest process will contribute to informing design of the program, ahead of a final competitive program application process.

The Expression of Interest Guidelines can be accessed via the Buying for Victoria portal at https://www.tenders.vic.gov.au/ The Expression of Interest process is open until Friday 6 November 2020.

In addition to the Gippsland Plantations Investment Program, VicForests will deliver a new program focussed on maximising the contribution that farm forestry can make to enhancing the supply of plantation timber. More details about these elements are expected to be announced early next year.

We will also be working with local communities to explore opportunities and to consider the environmental and social impacts of growing plantations over the coming months.

2 October 2020

The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program will provide a $2 million grant to VicForests to establish and manage the nursery, on the former P.R. Adams sawmill site at Nowa Nowa in East Gippsland, with planning requirements being worked on ahead of project commencement in the coming months.

The nursery is expected to have a production capacity of up to 5 million seedlings each year, which could support plantings and reforestation of around 5,000 hectares annually.

Production of eucalypt seedlings will support bushfire recovery replanting, forestry coupe regeneration, timber plantations and farm forestry programs in Gippsland as state forest harvesting decreases over the next decade.

The East Gippsland community will benefit from new learning opportunities developed in consultation with the Forestec campus of TAFE Gippsland, along with options to reskill and employ existing timber industry workers. The nursery will also present opportunities for involvement and collaboration with local Aboriginal organisations.

Page last updated: 16 September 2021