CEO questions outburst

THE Gympie region could miss out on a great economic and environmental opportunity because of misconceptions held by Gympie Regional Council, Timber Queensland said yesterday.

The CEO of the timber industry body, Rod McInnes, was responding to an "outburst" from Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne about proposed timber plantations on the land bought up for the Traveston Dam.

Councillor Dyne said the proposal would create a "monoculture" that would be bad for jobs.

Mr McInnes said the comments suggested Cr Dyne either didn't know what he was talking about or that he was being badly advised.

"Firstly, what's the difference between a plantation of eucalypt trees or macadamia trees or avocado trees? They're all monocultures; all planted crops albeit with different rotation cycles," Mr McInnes said.

"Quite frankly, leasing Mary Valley land to grow trees guarantees proper land management, as timber plantations have to abide by strict government-imposed codes of practice. So there is no chance of feral weeds and animals taking over the landscape, which is likely under the current proposals," he said.

Timber Queensland forecasts that logs harvested from local hardwood plantations could deliver 85,000 cubic metres of sawn timber each year or be peeled into high value veneer for appearance-grade products; work that would deliver rather than cost jobs.

"Indeed, that volume available on a sustainable basis could see a new processing plant built worth tens of millions of dollars with hundreds of jobs during the construction and a similar number operating the plant," he said.

"When was the last time that sort of investment occurred in and around Gympie? What about the flow on economic value for new mill workers spending their wages in town, not to mention the support businesses in transport, fuel, machinery and supplies?"

Mr McInnes said if Cr Dyne was concerned about losing rate revenue he should think about ways to negotiate "rate equivalent" charges that could be paid to assist in road maintenance and other council operations.