The organisation that evolved into Timber Communities Australia sprang from grassroots community members who knew that Australian society was changing and that they needed to band together to be heard, as largely urban populations were increasingly driving forest policies. A very brief history of this special organisation follows.
Brought to life by that small group of motivated people, the Forest Protection Society (FPS) began in 1987. The leaders saw the need for a cohesive community voice for grassroots people as forest policies were felt to be ignoring the lives of the people most affected. Australian society had changed, so these regional communities that had for generations loved, lived and breathed in their local forests, set out to address the problem they faced through the Forest Protection Society. They’d had enough of not being heard.
The FPS provided a structure so that the interests of timber community members who wanted the dual outcomes of a healthy forest environment and a healthy forest-based economy could be coordinated and represented to government, industry and the public. The FPS brought a unified, informed voice to effectively get their side of the story into the public arena. It was also proactively working to educate and communicate with the general public.
In the 1980’s there needed to be an increase in public awareness and confidence in forestry via better communication. There was need for the public to understand the role of specialist forestry science (as well as other specialties) to inform the development of government forest policies and industry practices. That need still exists.
Over the years people were curious about the choice of the words “forest protection” in the organisation’s name and identity. It was quite simple; the FPS reflected all that was “protection” – protection of forests, protection of communities, protection of history and heritage, protection of livelihoods, families, individuals and jobs. All those things depend upon sustainable forestry. That was a core value of the FPS and remains the case in TCA today.
As the 1990’s drew to a close, after a lot of careful consideration and discussion, around the year 2000 the FPS changed its name to Timber Communities Australia Ltd. This aimed to highlight its community roots. The aims, aspirations and structure all stayed the same and TCA continued to press for sustainable futures in our forests, timber communities and industries.
The most recent stage of organisational change was in 2013. TCA had ceased operations under what had become an unsustainable structure in need of change. It then underwent a full review. This found that the need for a focused community network remained as relevant as ever. So TCA was completely restructured during 2013 and 2014 under the stewardship of an interim board, which stood down once the new constitution was implemented. The new constitution enshrined the grassroots general membership as the most influential; it opened a new category for affiliate membership for independent regional organisations; and the sponsor member category was redesigned to align with the wishes of grassroots members.
TCA entered a totally new era in 2015 with those positive changes in place and recommenced activities in the public arena.
TCA continues to attract membership from both city and rural community members. Its role remains highly relevant – providing a national, independent voice for members of timber communities in one of the core sectors that underpins the future wellbeing of our society and our planet.