More plan­ta­tions needed de­spite record log har­vest

Australian Forests and Timber - - Abares Report -

AUS­TRALIA’S SUS­TAIN­ABLE for­est prod­ucts in­dus­tries had a record plan­ta­tion log har­vest in 2015-16, in­creas­ing in both value and vol­ume, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the Aus­tralian Bureau of Agri­cul­tural and Re­source Eco­nom­ics and Sciences (ABARES).

How­ever, the need for more plan­ta­tions re­mains.

“ABARES’ lat­est fig­ures un­der­score the need for gov­ern­ment poli­cies that in­cen­tivise and sup­port new plan­ta­tion in­vest­ment and as­so­ci­ated for­est prod­uct in­dus­tries,” said Ross Hamp­ton, Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive.

“De­mand for wood-fi­bre in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion con­tin­ues to ex­pand, cre­at­ing huge po­ten­tial for our sus­tain­able for­est in­dus­tries. Aus­tralia is well placed to meet this de­mand for wood-fi­bre, if op­por­tu­ni­ties are grasped and our in­dus­tries are sup­ported.

“All lev­els of gov­ern­ment need to sup­port new plan­ta­tion in­vest­ment. New plant­ings have been go­ing back­wards due to con­tin­u­ing com­mer­cial pres­sures to not re­plant some ar­eas. The good news is that if govern­ments act now, it is not too late to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of new plan­ta­tions, pro­vide wood sup­ply cer­tainty to in­dus­try, and sup­port re­gional jobs and in­vest­ment,” Mr Hamp­ton said.

Aus­tralia’s to­tal com­mer­cial plan­ta­tion area was around 1,974,770 hectares in 2015‒16, an in­crease of 1,331 hectares (0.1 per cent) from 1,973,439 hectares in 2014‒15. The to­tal area of new plan­ta­tions estab­lished in 2015–16 was 1,415 hectares, com­prised en­tirely of soft­wood (ra­di­ata pine) planted in New South Wales. Around 83 hectares of Aus­tralia’s plan­ta­tion es­tate was con­verted to an­other land use.

In 2015‒16 the to­tal area of soft­wood plan­ta­tions was 1,036,800 hectares, an in­crease of around 1,400 hectares from 2014‒15. To­tal hard­wood plan­ta­tion area re­mained rel­a­tively un­changed at around 928,300 hectares, a de­crease of 66 hectares from 2014–15. Soft­wood plan­ta­tions ac­count for al­most 53% of to­tal com­mer­cial plan­ta­tion area; hard­wood plan­ta­tions make up the re­main­ing 47%.

In 2015‒16 Vic­to­ria had the largest com­mer­cial plan­ta­tion es­tate (423,000 hectares), fol­lowed by New South Wales (394,400 hectares) and Western Aus­tralia (383,400 hectares). Western Aus­tralia ac­counted for the largest pro­por­tion of hard­wood plan­ta­tions (30%) and New South Wales had the largest share of soft­wood plan­ta­tions (30%).

Gov­ern­ment-owned plan­ta­tions ac­counted for 98% of the new plan­ta­tion es­tab­lish­ment; the re­main­ing 2% was funded by in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors. Pri­vate plan­ta­tion own­er­ship re­mained un­changed at 1,505,200 hectares in 2015‒16, rep­re­sent­ing 76.2% of the to­tal plan­ta­tion es­tate. Pub­lic plan­ta­tion own­er­ship ac­counted for 20.2% and jointly owned (pub­lic and pri­vate) plan­ta­tions rep­re­sented the re­main­ing 3.6% of the es­tate (Down­ham & Gavran 2017).

Mr Hamp­ton said the AFPA would con­tinue to work closely with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on new pol­icy ini­tia­tives to sup­port Aus­tralia’s re­new­able forestry in­dus­try, such as the Na­tional In­sti­tute for For­est Prod­ucts In­no­va­tion and the de­vel­op­ment of a Na­tional Wood and Fi­bre Plan, and through on­go­ing ef­forts to have the forestry sec­tor in­cluded in the Emis­sions Re­duc­tion Fund and the in­clu­sion of bioen­ergy in re­new­able en­ergy pol­icy de­vel­op­ment.

He also wel­comed As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources Anne Rus­ton’s sup­port­ive state­ment (fol­low­ing the ABARES re­lease) that the Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to the forestry sec­tor and recog­nised in­dus­try’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment, re­gional jobs, com­mu­ni­ties and economies.

De­mand for wood-fi­bre in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion con­tin­ues to ex­pand, cre­at­ing huge po­ten­tial for our sus­tain­able for­est in­dus­tries.

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