What are these grants?
The introduction of the Victorian Forestry Plan and the ceasing of native timber harvesting brings with it the need for impacted communities to start thinking about how the plan will change their communities.
As part of the plan the Victorian Government is delivering the Local Development Strategy grants in line with its promise to ensure that impacted communities are well supported through the transition.
The grants are designed to assist communities that will be significantly impacted by the Victorian Forestry Plan to develop a Local Development Strategy that:
- supports their transition away from native timber harvesting
- leads to the creation of new jobs in sustainable industries, and
- results in long-term economic and social benefits for each community.
The development of a local development strategy will be locally-led and undertaken in partnership with key stakeholders.
How much funding is available?
The available grants total $5.5 million. Grants of approximately $500,000 per eligible town will be available.
What sort of things will be funded?
This grant will support:
- developing new, or updating previous strategic plans and processes
- feasibility studies
- research and data collection
- project plans
- gap analyses
- economic assessments
- engagement of staff or consultants to prepare the documents or information listed above.
- Initiatives that build skills (i.e. training, mentoring and coaching).
Who can apply?
The Victorian Forestry Plan transition team will work with the relevant Local Government Areas to identify one community group in each of the impacted towns or communities. That community group will apply for the grant.
The towns or communities eligible for grants are:
- Swifts Creek
- Nowa Nowa
- Alexandra / Taggerty
- Powelltown / Yarra Junction / Warburton
When will the grants open?
Applications for the Local Development Strategy grants will open in March 2021 and will close on 30 June 2022, unless funds are fully expended prior to this date.
Why isn’t my town included in the grants?
The Local Development Strategy grants are focused on the towns and communities that will be impacted most significantly by the Victorian Forestry Plan.
Eligible communities have been identified in consultation with Local Government Areas based on needs-based criteria including their size, socio-economic profile and number of impacted forestry jobs.
Communities which are not eligible for a Local Development Strategy grant may be eligible for other Victorian Forestry Plan grants.
If native timber supply doesn’t end for another nine years why are these grants available now?
The Local Development Strategy grants are about long-term planning. Right now, there is a three-year window before the first significant step down in native timber availability for communities and businesses to plan for their future.
What support is available following the development of a Local Development Strategy?
The Victorian Forestry Plan Transition Fund is a $36 million program over 12 years to support actions from the Local Development Strategy to grow businesses and create jobs in affected communities (particularly targeting job creation that is relevant for the location, timing and skills of affected native timber workers).
It is planned that the Transition Fund grants will be released in 2021.
Has the Victorian Forestry Plan rollout changed following the bushfires and coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The Victorian Forestry Plan is a long-term plan to transition Victoria’s forest industry to one that is based solely on a plantation timber supply. The implementation of the plan will continue through impacts such as bushfires and coronavirus (COVID-19).
What guarantee does my town have to survive following the cessation of native forestry?
The cessation of native forest harvesting isn’t new to Victoria. In the early 2000s the majority of native forestry stopped in the west of the state. Communities used this change and the support that came with it to diversify their local economies.
There are also more recent examples of major industries exiting regional areas and government supporting these transitions including the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley and the ceasing of car manufacturing in Geelong.
What is the Victorian Forestry Plan?
The Victorian Forestry Plan is the Victorian Government’s major forestry policy that will see the cessation of commercial harvesting of native forest in Victoria in 2030.
The Victorian Forestry Plan is the biggest ever dedicated forestry package and gives workers, businesses and communities support for this change.
Why is it happening?
Since the 1980s, the impact of bushfires and increasing protections of endangered habitat and wildlife has resulted in a decrease in the area of native timber available for harvest.
The Victorian Forestry Plan is about the long term and provides opportunities for industry, workers and communities to look to the future and respond to the transition away from the harvesting of public native forests.
What support is available?
There are many options for communities and the industries within them as they transition, whether that be diversification, creating new industries or utilising wood product innovation. The Victorian Government is here to assist you to do it.
Community and Business Support Teams are in place and are talking to local businesses and communities about the ways they might approach the transition and what support they can access.
Support programs for industry and communities have commenced. The bulk of support for affected workers will be available from 2024 as the availability of native timber supply decreases.