Growth in Australia’s forestry sector

Growth in Australia’s forestry sector

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released the Australian forest and wood products statistics: September and December quarters 2015 report.

ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said that the Australian forestry sector had grown strongly overall in 2014–15, as a result of several positive trends, in particular high rates of residential building activity and exports.

“In 2014–15 the value of logs harvested increased by more than 10 per cent, to above $2 billion for the first time,” Ms Schneider said.

“Housing activity was the basis for stronger domestic demand for wood products. Total dwelling commencements increased by 18 per cent to 214,000 units in 2014–15.

“This is the highest level of dwelling commencements recorded in Australia, and the strong residential building activity has continued into the second-half of 2015.

“This activity supported demand for Australian wood products in 2014–15, leading to sawnwood production increasing by 6 per cent and wood-based panel production increasing by 7 per cent.”

Wood product exports have also grown. The value of exports increased by 10 per cent to $2.8 billion in 2014–15, led by a 24 per cent increase in woodchips.

This growth continued in the second-half of 2015, with the value of exports increasing by 16 per cent compared with 2014. This was supported by an increase in exports of roundwood logs, woodchips and miscellaneous forest products.

“Our latest data shows that native forest harvesting, and hardwood sawnwood production have declined, as has demand for some paper products,” Ms Schneider said.

“Activity in Australia’s forestry sector remains contingent on key markets, such as housing and international trade. Developments in these sectors will determine whether this recent strength is sustained.”

This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.