Young people in Gippsland have come together for a regional symposium on the future of our forests this week.
Organised by Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, the day was an opportunity for young Gippslanders to have their say on the future management of our state forests.
Participants at the Youth Forest Symposium travelled from all over Gippsland to attend, including Bruthen in the east through to Drouin in west.
Ms Bath said the Gippsland Forest Youth Symposium was about restoring balance and providing the opportunity for young Gippslanders to share their opinions and visions.
“It is imperative the Andrews Government listen to young people living in regional communities as they will be significantly impacted by any changes to forest management systems and practices.” Ms Bath said.
“Young Gippslanders deserve the right to have their views captured and heard having grown up with state forests on their doorstep.
“These young people are more qualified than anyone to provide the Andrews Government with advice on the future management of our forests.
Ms Bath said the young Gippslanders provided an engaging insight into why state forests are important to the livelihood of our regional Victorian communities.
The views of the Gippsland participants will be captured as an independently moderated report and provided to various levels of government.
Ms Bath said her Gippsland event held in Latrobe Valley was organised after an Andrews Labor Government forum held in Footscray earlier this year lacked country representation.
“At the Footscray event, only a handful of the 49 people who attended were from regional Victoria so we organised our Gippsland forum in Latrobe Valley to restore some balance to the engagement.
“It seems the Andrews Government is intent on conducting a flawed engagement process that shuts out the voices of anyone who supports a responsible and sustainable forest industry in our state.
“At our forum today, it was clear that young people in our area strongly support a balanced approach to the management of our forests including building stronger regional economies through sustainable timber jobs, maintaining access to their recreational pursuits, support for our indigenous culture and maintaining public access to Victoria’s unique flora and fauna in our state forests and parks,” Ms Bath said.