The Lower South West will have a say on how millions of dollars of State Government money should be spent to help businesses affected by the shutdown of native logging. The Manjimup-Bridgetown Times can reveal the State Government is calling for expressions of interest from the community to be part of the Native Forestry Community Advisory Group, a taskforce formed to guide which businesses and projects should get a slice of $5 million in funding. It comes after Premier Mark McGowan last year announced a ban on native logging from 2024, which is expected to save more than 400,000ha of native forests, but see about 500 jobs lost. Forestsry Minister Dave Kelly unveiled $80m in separate funding programs over the past year aimed at businesses that are affected and indirectly affected by the shutdown, with almost half of that dedicated to attracting new industries and helping existing businesses transition to new operation streams. The NFCAG, which will be chaired by Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie and include up to five representatives from the forestry region, will make recommendations to Mr Kelly where the $5m Community Development Small Grants program should be spent. As part of the funding category, groups and businesses affected by the end of the timber industry can apply for up to $100,000 for community based projects in the region that aim to stimulate regional economies and enhance the livebility of communities. The State Government will be calling for expressions of interest for the positions until November 13 Mr Kelly said it was important community members were given a seat at the table to help direct spending. “The NFCAG will enable local public input from the regions impacted by the end of native forestry logging and help determine who should be allocated funding from the Community Small Grants Fund,” he said. Ms Kelsbie encouraged lower South West residents to apply. “I’m really pleased to be able to chair the NFCAG and I’m looking forward to working with members to help make these community-based projects a reality,” she said. Expressions of interest can be submitted on www.wa.gov.au/nft.