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WA follows Tasmania’s lead to adopt Wood Encouragement Policy

WA follows Tasmania’s lead to adopt Wood Encouragement Policy

Planet Ark is celebrating the introduction of a Wood Encouragement Policy in Western Australia, having played a key role in the policy’s adoption.

Planet Ark’s “Make it Wood” campaign, supported by FWPA, encourages the use of responsibly sourced timber as a building material, with a key part of this initiative being the promotion and advocacy of Wood Encouragement Policies (WEPs) among Australia’s many government bodies.

WEPs work by ensuring a requirement by government that timber is considered, wherever appropriate, as the primary construction material in local projects.

Following months of discussion between the WA Forest Products Commission and Planet Ark, the WA state government has joined Tasmania to become the second state government in Australia to adopt a statewide WEP.

The adoption of similar policies around the world is growing steadily, with Canada, Japan, France, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK all encouraging the use of natural, timber-based products as a sustainable construction material.

Make It Wood campaign manager David Rowlinson said government bodies are open to considering WEPs for a number of reasons; in particular, the fact that responsibly sourced, certified wood is the only major building material that helps tackle climate change. 

“It is renewable, stores carbon for the life of the building, and has much lower embodied energy than conventional, more carbon-intensive building materials,” Mr Rowlinson said.

“As well as the environmental benefits of sustainable timber, the use of wood in the interior of a building has clear physiological and psychological benefits that mimic the effect of spending time outside in nature.” 

The WEP comes as part of the state government’s introduction of The Djarlma Plan for the WA Forestry Industry. The plan was inspired by the indigenous Noongar people’s concept of Djarlma, which reflects the interconnected relationship of people, forests and woodlands.

WA Forest Products Commission spokesperson Annelies de Ruiter, Manager of Policy and Corporate Support, said Planet Ark’s advocacy of a WEP played a key role in getting the policy released, alongside the Djarlma Plan.

“The Make It Wood team made the policy easy to commit to by highlighting the benefits of building with wood, which is natural, renewable and stores carbon. This makes it an important tool for fighting climate change,” Ms de Ruiter said.

In addition to the Tasmanian and Western Australian state government WEPs, two local government authorities and 16 local councils in Australia have also adopted a WEP since the inception of the initiative.

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