Wood manufacturing companies awarded $108 million in grants

Image credit: minister.industry.gov.au

The Albanese government announced the successful recipients of the Accelerate Adoption of Wood Processing Innovation grant program, which will share over $108 million in funding, to meet the strong demand for timber products.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, made the announcement with local MP Brian Mitchell at Western Junction Sawmill near Launceston on Thursday.

Watt said the delivery of this initiative showed how strongly the Albanese Government supported Australia’s sustainable forestry sector.

The grant recipients will work on a variety of projects that involve the adoption of modernised and cutting-edge working methods in a number of different sectors, the government said in a media release. 

This includes the manufacture of activated carbon, housing and construction, packaging, and the sale of culturally significant timbers to higher-end markets.

“Our government understands how important the forestry industry is for communities around the country, but particularly here in Tasmania,” Minister Watt said.

The minister pointed out that a total of 34 grants will be made, chosen by an independent panel, including funding for four projects involving First Nations organisations that will allow the use of sustainably sourced timber from traditional lands

In addition to the $300 million budget to support Australia’s forest industries in October, Minister Watt said the government is establishing the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation and has pledged support for specialised training for the forestry and wood products industries.

Meanwhile, Mitchell stated that the funding scheme will benefit wood processors by encouraging investment in modifications to existing manufacturing lines as well as innovation to diversify domestic products.

“Enabling wood processing facilities to use innovative technologies in their production will enhance the forestry industry’s ability to supply more of Australia’s wood demands into the future,” Mitchell said.

He continued, “Here in Tasmania that includes projects that improve production processes, and value add to existing operations. More than $15 million in government funding will be spent across five projects, with the total value of new investment set to reach over $45 million.”

A total of 34 approved proposals will receive funding under the Wood Processing Innovation award program from  2022-23 to 2025-26, ranging from $1 million to $5 million.

The program stipulates that beneficiaries must contribute at least 60 per cent of the project’s overall costs.

With funding from both the public and private sectors, the total new investment now stands at $361 million.