Report reveals timber impacts on SW

Michael PhilippsSouth Western Times

Residents in the South West are concerned about the impact the timber and forestry industry is having on road safety, according to an industry report.

However, the majority of residents believe the industry has a positive impact on the region in terms of employment.

The Socio-economic Impacts of the Forest Industry WA 2017 report, which was funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia, with additional funding provided by the Forest Products Commission and the Forest Industries Federation of WA, is based on data from government statistics and a survey of 15,000 regional residents.

According to the report, 71 per cent of South West residents surveyed felt the industry had a negative impact on traffic on local roads while 67 per cent said it had a negative impact on the quality of local roads.

This is compared to 51 per cent who felt tourism had a negative impact on traffic and 30 per cent who felt farming had a similar effect.

While 72 per cent of residents surveyed felt the timber industry had a positive impact on local employment, it rated behind tourism and farming with 89 per cent for both industries.

The report also showed that the majority of residents surveyed in the South West, 53 per cent, felt the timber industry had a negative impact on the attractiveness of the region.

This is compared to 9 per cent who felt farming had a negative impact and 7 per cent who thought tourism had a similar effect.

“Results suggest that the forest industry is not viewed as either being as important an industry as agriculture and tourism,” the report states.

According to the report, forestry in 2015-16 contributed $257 million to WA’s gross regional product, and $643 million with “flow-on effects” but just $104 million of that was from native forestry.

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