Australia's industrial plantations covered a total of 2.02 million hectares in 2011 (or 2% of Australia's total forest area), including 1.03 million hectares of softwood species (mostly exotic pines), 0.98 million hectares of hardwood species (mostly eucalypts) and 0.01 million hectares of unknown or mixed species. More recent plantation area statistics have been published in the biannual Australian Forest and Wood Products Statistics report.
Australia's industrial plantations comprise both softwood species (predominantly radiata pine, Pinus radiata) and hardwood species (most commonly blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus). Their primary purpose is commercial wood production, and they produce most of the volume of logs harvested annually in Australia. Industrial plantations also provide a range of environmental services, such as salinity and erosion control, and support regional employment. Plantations provide habitat for some native flora and fauna species that generally do not inhabit cleared agricultural land, although the population densities of forest-dwelling species are usually lower in plantations than in native forests.
Softwood pine (Pinus radiata) plantation. Photo: Martin Dallen.
Hardwood blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) plantation. Photo: Ian Frakes.