A new policy introduced in the state of Tasmania requires all government projects to consider locally-sourced timber in design.

Developed by the Department of State Growth and supported by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Forestry, the Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy aims to increase the use of sustainably-sourced timber in government procurement activities. The decision particularly relates to building and construction. The Wood Encouragement Policy, which was formally adopted following extensive consultation with industry bodies and stakeholders, is expected to promote the growth of the state’s timber industry.

Tasmanian minister for resources and for building and construction, Guy Barnett, explained that sustainably-sourced wood will need to be considered for use in future public building projects. This will subsequently result in a wide range of opportunities for Tasmanian timber use.

While the new policy does not mandate the use of timber, it seeks to ensure that wood is considered as a key design component where it represents value for money; provides appropriate quality and functionality; complies with the Buy Local Policy; there are no technical or performance reasons for not considering wood; and complies with relevant Australian standards.

The policy announcement has been welcomed by key industry stakeholders. According to Planet Ark’s Make It Wood campaign manager David Rowlinson, responsibly-sourced, certified timber is the only major building material that helps tackle climate change. Forest and Wood Products Australia's national marketing and communications manager, Eileen Newbury, says the policy recognises that sustainably-sourced timber has the potential to play a significant role in helping Australia achieve its carbon emissions targets.

To date, all wood encouragement policies (WEP) adopted in Australia have only happened at the local council level. Latrobe, East Gippsland, Kyogle Shire, Mackay and Fraser Coast are some of the local regions that have so far adopted WEPs.

At the global level, countries such as Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada have adopted national WEPs.

With the adoption of the Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy, the state government not only recognises the importance of the Tasmanian forest and wood products industry to regional employment and economic development, it also acknowledges the contribution of sustainable timber to climate change mitigation.