Shutdown of Aussie industry fast-tracked

Native timber logging in one Australian state is set to end within a year. Picture: NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Victoria has sped up its timeline to end native forest logging after announcing the industry will cease operations in 12 months.

The Andrews government announced in 2019 it would phase out native timber logging by 2030; however, Greens leader Adam Bandt revealed that the plans would be sped up to be phased out in 2024.

“This is what relentless people power can do,” Mr Bandt said on Twitter.

Tall Forest Up Above
There are approximately 15,000 people employed in the Victorian timber industry. Picture: iStock

“To the activists who put everything on the line to protect First Nations heritage, Victoria‘s forests, and every creature that calls them home – thank you.”

It’s understood the government will announce the move in Tuesday’s state budget and a package will be provided to retrain workers in other sectors.

There are about 15,000 people employed in the Victorian timber industry.

The Greens have welcomed the move from the Labor government.

“After years of campaigning and court cases by environment groups, the Greens and local community members, Labor has finally come to the realisation that logging is unsustainable,” deputy leader of the Victoria Greens Ellen Sandell said.

Environmental activists have called for the end of the industry for years. Picture: NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“The Greens are ready to work with the government to get this done as a matter of urgency, and we want to ensure that there are no loopholes that allow VicForests to still destroy forests under the guise of ‘storm clean-up’.”

State-owned logging company VicForests stopped harvesting in November 2023 after a ruling against it in the Supreme Court, limiting the industry’s output.

VicForests was found to have broken the law by failing to adequately protect two glider species in Central Victoria and Gippsland, ordering it to undertake more rigorous surveying for the yellow-bellied glider and endangered greater glider as well as implement environmental protection for the two species.

The announcement has also been welcomed by the Australian Conservation Foundation, with ACF national nature campaigner Jess Abrahams urging the Andrews government to go even further to protect the environment.

“Logging has infamously sent the state’s faunal emblem, the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum, to the brink of extinction and has devastated the habitats of greater gliders and native fish,” she said.

“The Andrews government must now move to establish a Great Forest National Park and a new national park for East Gippsland to make sure these forests are protected forever.

“Forests damaged by logging must now be restored and traditional owners should play a central role in this process.”