Forestry sector grows and grows
11 November 2015
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, has welcomed the latest Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report on forestry as a sign the sector is going from strength to strength.
"The report, Australian forest and wood products statistics: March and June quarters 2015, shows growth for the second consecutive year—and an all-time high in the value of our exports," Minister Ruston said.
"There has been an increase in the estimated volume and value of logs harvested, dwelling commencements and trade in most wood products.
"This is especially welcome news for a sector that recently faced a difficult period of contraction, and certainly looks like a sustained turnaround.
"Eight per cent more logs were harvested—more than 27 million cubic metres—and the forestry sector's direct value to Australia's gross domestic product has risen ten per cent to $7.7 billion.
"This coincided with an increase in housing activity and wood product exports, with the number of new houses being built approaching levels similar to those seen in five years ago and the value of exports reaching an all‑time high of $2.8 billion.
"Both exports and imports grew by around ten per cent."
Minister Ruston will speak about the opportunities that are opening up in the forestry sector at a Forestry Products Industry dinner in Canberra tonight.
"This is an exciting time to be in the forest products sector," Minister Ruston said.
"Now the challenge is to make the most of opportunities for innovation and extend the value chain to the next generation of forest products—like engineered building products, transportation fuels, biochemical and biomaterials.
"Governments need to make sure policy is conducive to a strong and vibrant sector through levelling the playing field for our producers in international markets, fostering innovation and development through strong and coordinated research and development and making sure industry is engaged in the policy-making process.
"The Australian Government has demonstrated our commitment by providing $3.3 million in matched funding for research and development, investing $15 million in a three year National Bushfire Mitigation Programme and—importantly—setting up the Forestry Industry Advisory Council.
"This council is a vital mechanism for exchanging information between industry and government on policies and issues affecting the forestry industry.
"It was a key component of the Australian Government's election platform for the forestry industry.
"I am proud to co-chair the council, which is developing a discussion paper that will include recommendations for building a positive future for Australia's forestry industry.
"As part of this process, the council received almost 80 submissions to an issues paper released earlier this year that canvassed views on the opportunities and challenges for the sector over the coming decades.
"I look forward to meeting with the council as it finalises the discussion paper."
For a copy of the report visit agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications.