Plantations and farm forestry present an opportunity to increase Australia’s long-term wood supply while contributing significant social, economic and environmental benefits to regional Australia. The links from this page will help you find out more about Australia's plantations and how to get involved in farm forestry.
Increasing the plantation timber resource to expand Australia's forest industries and offset the reduced access to native forest resource is a key forest policy objective of the National Fo rest Policy Statement, Regional Forest Agreements and National Forest Industries Plan.
The overarching principle of the National Forest Industries Plan is to provide a vision for Australia's forestry industry and supports the sustainable forest industries as long-term growth engines for regional Australia. This is to be achieved through a notional target of the planting of a billion new plantations trees over the next decade.
In parts of Australia, plantations yield up to 14 times more wood per hectare than native forests, largely due to plant selection and breeding, and the use of more intensive management techniques. Continued improvement of plantation stock in terms of wood quality, yield and disease resistance is expected in the future. Better silvicultural management is another major reason for increased wood yields, ensuring uniform, high-quality and cost-competitive timber products.
Plantations produce over 85% of the 32.9 million cubic metres of logs harvested in Australia on average each year. The majority of plantation logs are derived from softwood plantations (61%) compared to hardwood plantations (39%).
Australia’s plantation processing industry comprises a number of large, internationally-competitive companies. In recent years the plantation processing sector has invested heavily in the development of modern efficient sawmills, reconstituted and engineered wood production facilities and best practice pulp mills. Continued development of plantations is necessary to support further investment in the plantation processing sector. This investment will assist in developing new export and value-adding industries, and contribute to regional economic development.
Plantations also offer important environmental benefits. Plantations, strategically placed in the landscape, are recognised for their importance for sustainable production and improved soil, water quality and salinity mitigation, carbon and biodiversity benefits. There is a substantial body of scientific and policy activity through major Australian Government programs that recognise, promote and evaluate the opportunities to achieve multiple objectives through revegetation and plantations. Key research in this area has been undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and Forest and Wood Products Australia.
ABARES produces a number of publications on Australia's plantations which can be found on their publications webpage.
Farm forestry means different things to different people. Essentially however, it is the incorporation of commercial tree growing into farming systems. It can take many forms, including timber belts, alleys and widespread tree plantings. Farm forestry can provide farmers with an alternative source of income. It can improve agricultural production by providing shelter for stock and crops and can provide substantial environmental benefits such as salinity control.
The Farm Forestry National Action Statement, endorsed by the Natural Resource Management and Primary Industries Ministerial Councils in August 2005, outlined the objectives and actions agreed by the Australian, state and territory governments and the forest and wood products industry to develop farm forestry.