​Media Release

Valuable view of forestry

28 October 2015

A new report profiling native forests and industrial plantations provides a valuable snapshot of the changing face of forestry in Australia, according to the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston.

Australia's forests at a glance 2015, released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), is the latest in a suite of detailed reports the bureau produces on Australia's forestry and forest products manufacturing sectors.

"Economic and policy factors have changed forestry production over the last decade—we have seen a 60 per cent decline in the harvest of predominantly hardwood native forest logs but at the same time there was a 280 per cent increase in the harvest of predominantly pulp hardwood plantation logs," Minister Ruston said.

"Most of Australia's total log supply continues to be provided by softwood plantations, which supplied 56 per cent of Australia's total log harvest in 2013–14.

"The Australian Government has demonstrated its commitment to maintaining a competitive and sustainable forestry industry by investing in a $15 million three year National Bushfire Mitigation Programme and setting up the Forestry Industry Advisory Council.

"I am proud to chair the council, which received almost 80 submissions to a recent issues paper. Now a discussion paper is being finalised and we will be consulting with industry in the coming months.

"Forestry is vital to many regional communities—the annual sales and service income in 2013–14 of the forest products manufacturing industries was valued at $20.1 billion, representing around 5.2 per cent of sales and service income of all manufacturing.

"Together with the forestry sector, these industries contributed around 0.5 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product in 2013–14.

"Australia's 124.7 million hectares of forest covers about 16 per cent of the continent and includes 122.6 million hectares of native forests and around 2 million hectares of industrial plantations of softwoods and hardwoods.

"Australia harvested more than 25 million cubic metres of logs in 2013–14, of which about 4 million cubic metres of logs were harvested from native forests.

"Domestic hardwood sawnwood production declined by 44 per cent in the decade to 2013–14, in contrast, softwood sawnwood production increased by around 10 per cent."

For a copy or to view other detailed reports produced by ABARES visit agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications.