Forestry adds $731m to Qld econ­omy

Australian Forests and Timber - - Front Page -

Over 70% of for­est in­dus­try busi­nesses re­ported dif­fi­culty re­cruit­ing heavy ma­chin­ery op­er­a­tors, peo­ple with skills in oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety train­ing and those able to op­er­ate hand-held ma­chin­ery such as chain­saws.

The for­est in­dus­try con­trib­uted $685 mil­lion to the Queens­land (QLD) econ­omy in di­rect sales alone last fi­nan­cial year, in­creas­ing to a to­tal of $1.624 bil­lion once flow-on ef­fects in other in­dus­tries are in­cluded. This led to a to­tal con­tri­bu­tion to gross re­gional prod­uct (the re­gional equiv­a­lent of GDP) of $731 mil­lion.

That was among the key find­ings of a new in­dus­try snapshot funded by For­est & Wood Prod­ucts Aus­tralia and con­ducted by the Univer­sity of Can­berra in con­junc­tion with con­sul­tancy EconSearch, a di­vi­sion of BDO.

In terms of jobs, the QLD forestry in­dus­try gen­er­ated over 8,400 di­rect jobs in­clud­ing al­most 3,300 in for­est grow­ing and ini­tial pro­cess­ing, and over 5,100 in sec­ondary pro­cess­ing.

The plan­ta­tions of south­ern pine gen­er­ate the largest num­ber of jobs (1,666 in grow­ing and ini­tial pro­cess­ing), fol­lowed by tim­ber har­vested from na­tive eu­ca­lypt forests (691 jobs), Arau­caria plan­ta­tions (608 jobs) and na­tive cy­press forests (207 jobs) – show­ing the QLD for­est in­dus­try draws on tim­ber from a range of sources. Sec­ondary pro­cess­ing All these ar­eas also gen­er­ate fur­ther jobs in ‘sec­ondary pro­cess­ing’ of ini­tial tim­ber prod­ucts into fur­ther prod­ucts, with im­ported tim­bers also used in the sec­ondary pro­cess­ing sec­tor.

The in­dus­try is an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to the econ­omy in sev­eral re­gional com­mu­ni­ties, and con­trib­utes to di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of the econ­omy in many re­gions. While most jobs - 5,167 are in the South East re­gion that in­cludes Bris­bane, 1,837 were gen­er­ated in the Wide Bay Bur­nett re­gion, 919 in the South­ern re­gion, 393 in the Cen­tral re­gion, and 577 in the North re­gion.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area with the high­est de­pen­dence on the for­est in­dus­try for em­ploy­ment was Gympie, with 4.6% of jobs di­rectly de­pen­dent on forestry.

While ABS Cen­sus data shows a 40.7% de­cline in to­tal em­ploy­ment in the for­est in­dus­try be­tween 2006 and 2016, re­flect­ing both in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity in some parts of the in­dus­try and over­all de­cline in size of other parts, this over­all trend masks some dif­fer­ing trends within dif­fer­ent in­dus­try sec­tors.

For ex­am­ple, be­tween 2011- 2016, there was growth of 9.5% in em­ploy­ment in jobs in­volv­ing es­tab­lish­ing, man­ag­ing and har­vest­ing forests and plan­ta­tions.

QLD for­est in­dus­try work­ers are slightly less likely than those in other in­dus­tries to earn lower in­comes (less than $600 per week), largely due to the higher rates of full-time work, but also less likely to earn high in­comes (above $1,250 per week).

In ad­di­tion, 3% of the in­dus­try’s work­force iden­ti­fies as Abo­rig­i­nal or Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der, slightly higher than the 2% amongst QLD work­ers more gen­er­ally.

Over 70 per cent of for­est in­dus­try busi­nesses re­ported dif­fi­culty re­cruit­ing heavy ma­chin­ery op­er­a­tors, peo­ple with skills in oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety train­ing and those able to op­er­ate hand-held ma­chin­ery such as chain­saws.

Still hope­ful

Lead re­searcher As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Jacki Schirmer said that busi­nesses re­main hope­ful.

“A lit­tle less than half sur­veyed (45%) felt de­mand would re­main the same, and the re­main­ing busi­nesses (55%) felt that de­mand would grow over the next 12 months.

“That said, ob­tain­ing labour, the in­creas­ing cost of labour, gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions and ris­ing in­put costs are still big chal­lenges for many busi­nesses.

“It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the ma­jor­ity of forestry jobs are gen­er­ated by the pro­cess­ing sec­tor, as is the maMRULW\ RI WKH LQGXVWU\¶V ÀRZ RQ eco­nomic im­pact. This high­lights the im­por­tance of lo­cal SURFHVVLQJ RI ZRRG DQG ¿EUH for gen­er­a­tion of jobs.”

Dr Schirmer thanked the Queens­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries for their sup­port in the project.

White Cy­press.

Hoop pine.

Jacki Schirmer.

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