Victorian population set to grow – but where will they live?
This week, the Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee’s Inquiry into Environmental Infrastructure for Growing Populations was tabled in the Victorian Parliament. The report cites the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) which states that Victoria’s regional population is set to grow by 47 per cent by 2056, and in metropolitan Melbourne by a staggering 84 per cent. Melbourne would swell to a population of 9 million people in the coming 34 years.
“We welcome growth in the region and in metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Geelong. But before the government gets too excited about the projected growth, we invite them to consider the main issue: the question of how we are going to house this population. Timber is in such high demand already, and that is not about to magically change in the foreseeable future,” said Deb Kerr, CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA).
“Firstly, where will the timber come from to satisfy future housing demand? We need to heavily invest in plantations now to grow the homes of the future. The Victorian softwood estate has remained static since the early 1990s. That is at odds with new house builds that have increased by 66% since 1984, while the softwood estate, which is critical to construction, increased by only 23% over the same timeframe. This trend is only going to intensify,” Ms Kerr continued.
“Secondly, what do we want to build with? We urge the government to implement wood encouragement policies in the built environment and in new homes. Prioritising locally, sustainably grown timber means a far superior carbon footprint compared to substitute building materials,” said Ms Kerr.
“More trees in the ground means more carbon captured from the atmosphere, timber security for future generations, and providing a renewable building material. Now is the time to make it happen,” Ms Kerr concluded.