A new Native Forestry Transition Group has been established by the State Government in the aftermath of the contentious decision to end native logging in the next two years. The group has been established to provide support to affected workers and businesses, diversify local economies affected and identify sustainable job opportunities for the workers in the timber industry. One of the members for the new group will be Manjimup Shire president Paul Omodei, who was invited to join by Forestry Minister Dave Kelly after a meeting at the most recent WA Local Government Association conference. Cr Omodei said joining the group would be the best way to make sure the lower South West was actively involved in the transition from timber. “Having a seat at the table is the best way in assisting to support local workers and businesses plus look to new opportunities to create local jobs and industry,” he said. Topics also covered at the meeting between Cr Omodei and Mr Kelly included the $50 million transition plan, softwood plantations, the forest management plan 2024-33 and the consultation process expected to take place between State Government officials and the timber industry. Cr Omodei said a number of “urgent matters” were brought up during his conversation with the forestry minister. “The first urgent matter we raised was a request to Mr Kelly to ensure that local communities were kept fully informed on all developments,” he said. “Other matters raised included the retention of local jobs and the importance of this in sustaining local populations, fire management and the potential of increased fire risk to communities and the environment as a result of the decision.” A State Government spokesperson representing Mr Kelly said the group’s membership was not yet finalised but would be complete in the next few weeks. The spokesperson said consultation will take place with every section of the timber industry. “A native forestry transition group will be formed to create that plan and will comprise of representatives from local industry, forestry community, union, governments (State and local) and traditional owner stakeholders,” the spokesperson said. “The (just transition) plan will be designed to support existing forestry workers, diversify local economies and identify and create sustainable jobs.” Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie co-ordinated the meeting between the local and State Government representatives at the WALGA conference. The first meeting of the native forestry transition group is expected to take place in the South West in the next month. Other members of the transition group are yet to be finalised.