Plantation hardwood harvests up 160% in past decade
TOTAL HARDWOOD log harvest increased by 11% to a record high of 13.7 million cubic metres in 2015–16, valued at almost $1.1 billion (mill door prices). This growth was driven by increases in the volume of plantation hardwood pulplogs harvested for woodchip exports (up 18%) and native hardwood sawlogs (up 10%).
Plantation hardwood logs now comprise over 71% of total hardwood logs harvested in Australia.
Softwood log harvest also grew strongly in 2015–16, with the volume harvested increasing by 9.5% to a record high of 16.3 million cubic metres.
Growth in the softwood log harvest was driven primarily by increases in the volume of pulplogs harvested for woodchip exports, domestic wood-based panel and paper and paperboard production.
The volume of softwood saw and veneer logs harvested also increased by 4.6% to over 10 million cubic metres in 2015–16. The value of softwood logs harvested reached a new record, increasing by 12% to $1.2 billion in 2015–16.
Native forest log harvest increased slightly in the 2015–16 financial year but over the past decade the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Australia has more than halved, from 8.6 million cubic metres in 2005–06 to 4.0 million cubic metres in 2015–16. The majority of this decline occurred in Tasmania, with more modest declines in New South Wales and Victoria (Figure 1).
In contrast to the modest decline in the harvest of native hardwood logs, harvests of plantation hardwood increased strongly over the past decade, increasing by almost 160% to 9.8 million cubic metres in 2015– 16. Growth in plantation hardwood log volumes was strongest and most consistent in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia over this period. Tasmania experienced the strongest year on year growth in hardwood plantation harvest for 2015– 16 up 57% to 2.0 million cubic metres.
The softwood log harvest in Australia has fluctuated over the past decade, largely in response to changes in housing construction. Overall softwood log harvest has increased by 14% to 16.3 million cubic metres over the decade to 2015–16, with strong growth in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland more than offsetting small declines in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.
In 2015–16 the largest increase in softwood log harvest volumes occurred in Queensland, up by 48%; South Australia also recorded an increase of 12% over the same period.
■ Figure 1 (above) Log harvest by state, 2005–06 to 2015–16
■ Figure 2 (right)Volume and value of logs harvested, 2005–06 to 2015–16