In a state first, all Tasmanian government projects will now be required to consider locally sourced timber in project design, following the adoption of a formal wood encouragement policy.

The Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy was foreshadowed in last year’s state budget as a measure to grow the state’s timber industry.

It was developed by the Department of State Growth and supported by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Forestry, with extensive consultation with industry bodies and stakeholders.

“In a first for any Australian state, the policy means wood will need to be considered for use in future public building projects, leading to a wide range of new opportunities to utilise Tasmanian timber,” Tasmanian minister for resources and minister for building and construction Guy Barnett said.

The policy, now to be incorporated into government procurement instructions, requires the use of wood be “fully considered in designs where it represents value for money and does the job”.

As well as growing jobs in the forestry sector, Mr Barnett said the policy aimed to help the industry meet its own target of doubling the added value of the state’s wood and wood products by 2036.

The announcement was made during a tour of gambling giant Federal Group’s newly-completed MACq 01 Hotel, which features Tasmanian timbers on the exterior and throughout the interior.

Mr Barnett said the hotel was an example of how value can be added to the state’s forestry sector through more wood being used in building and construction.

Other elements of the policy include a requirement that wood is sourced sustainably, and that timbers comply with the government’s Buy Local Policy.

The news was welcomed by Planet Ark, with Make It Wood campaign manager David Rowlinson saying he hoped other states would follow suit.

“Responsibly sourced, certified timber is the only major building material that helps tackle climate change,” he said.

Forest and Wood Products Australia national marketing and communications manager Eileen Newbury said it was a “momentous day” for the Australian forest and wood products industry.

“It recognises that sustainably sourced timber has the potential to play a significant role in helping Australia to achieve our carbon emission targets, while also contributing to the economies of local and regional communities,” she said.

The only other wood encouragement policies adopted in Australia have been on the local council level.

The first WEP was implemented by Latrobe City Council in 2014. Since then a number of other councils, including East Gippsland, Kyogle Shire, Mackay and Fraser Coast, have adopted similar policies.

The Australian Local Government Association also passed a resolution in June 2015 supporting the promotion of the use of wood and timber products by local councils.

Internationally, a number of national WEPs have been adopted by countries including Japan, France, the UK, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada.

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