Program 1.3: Forestry industry

​​Program objective

  • foster and enable productive, profitable, internationally competitive and sustainable Australian forest and forest products industries.

Program description

We supported the ecologically sustainable management of Australia’s forests through administering 20-year regional forest agreements (RFAs) between the Australian Government and four states: New South Wales; Victoria; Western Australia; and Tasmania.

DAFF worked closely with Australia’s forest and forest products industries, and through strategic international bilateral and multilateral engagement, to promote sustainable forest management.

We are also responsible for national and international measures to combat illegal logging and its associated trade.

More information is available at forestry.

Key performance indicators

Table 4 Program 1.3—Forestry industry—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator 2012–13 target Performance
2012–13 2011–12 2010–11
Engage peak industry bodies through the Forest and Wood Products Council and state and territory departments through the Forestry and Forest Products Committee Two meetings a Met
Engage states on intent and performance of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) monitoring, compliance and review to ensure continued effectiveness in sustaining Australian forests and the forest products industries Reports tabled in Parliament for Tasmania and Western Australia a Not met
Agree process for extending the duration of RFAs Process agreed with Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia a Not met
Process in place to combat illegally logged timber entering the Australian market Develop subordinate legislation a Met
Timely completion of the final phase of the
Asia–Pacific forestry skills initiative
Grants finalised Program reviewed a Not met
All levy funds paid to Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) 100% Met Met Met
Engage with FWPA to ensure compliance with statutory funding agreement and relevant legislation and to discuss industry activities Two meetingsa Met
Timely finalisation of a new statutory funding agreement Consult with portfolio industries a Met
Scientific and economic research
Underpinning research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are delivered on time, within budget and are of high quality 85%a Met

a New performance indicator.

Achievements

Sustainable forest management

Regional Forest Agreements

We continued to work with the four RFA states to progress reviews of their agreements. In Western Australia, we worked on a review of the first and second five-yearly periods. In New South Wales and Victoria, we worked on finalising joint government responses to the recommendations arising from completed RFA reviews. In Tasmania, we initiated discussions on the third five-yearly review.

No RFA review reports were tabled in Parliament in 2012–13, as five-yearly RFA reviews were not completed for Tasmania or Western Australia. The third five-yearly review for Tasmania was delayed pending the outcomes of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement. Documentation for the joint first and second five-yearly review of the Western Australia RFA is being finalised and public consultation is planned for the second half of 2013.

The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘not met’ in 2012–13.

ABARES continued to work with state and territory agencies to prepare 'Australia’s state of the forests report 2013'. The report will be a comprehensive source of information for national and regional monitoring and reporting on all of Australia’s forests.

Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement

We continued to work with other Australian Government agencies to support a community-led process to respond to restructuring in the Tasmanian public native forest industry. These processes were supported through the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement signed in 2011 by the Prime Minister and the Tasmanian Premier.

The community organisations finalised the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012 in November 2012. In line with the intergovernmental agreement, the Tasmanian Government introduced legislation to give effect to the proposed wood supply volumes and conservation reserves. The legislation was passed in April 2013.

In May 2013, the Prime Minister and the Tasmanian Premier signed the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement 2013, building on the earlier intergovernmental agreement and the community-based Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012. We contributed to developing several elements of the agreement and provided advice about retiring industry capacity to match reduced wood supply volumes from timber production in public native forests.

The Australian and Tasmanian governments also signed a national partnership agreement, committing the parties to work together to implement the funding commitments in the intergovernmental agreement.

 This picture of a Northern Rivers forestry farm in New South Wales was the winning image in the Our Resources category of the 2013 DAFF Photo Competition

Farm Forestry: This picture of a Northern Rivers forestry farm in New South Wales was the winning image in the Our Resources category of the 2013 DAFF Photo Competition.

Photo: Lucie Blom

Working with the forest industry

Forest and Wood Products Council

The Forest and Wood Products Council met in August 2012 and April 2013 to receive updates on the progress of the government’s election commitments and to discuss forest and forestry policy matters. The council is undertaking a strategic planning process based on recommendations made in the consultant’s report Priorities for an Australian Forest and Wood Products Industry Plan.

Forest and Wood Products Australia

We worked with Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) to finalise a new statutory funding agreement for 2012–2017. The new agreement incorporates recommendations following an independent performance review and enhanced governance arrangements.

Following consultation with industry, FWPA is shifting its focus to industry promotion and market development. Industry has deferred longer term research and development programs until it is in a stronger position to invest in these areas.

National Indigenous Forestry Strategy

We continued to support the National Indigenous Forestry Strategy through a national coordinator, whose role is to facilitate partnerships between Indigenous groups, forestry companies, training organisations and state forestry agencies. Mapping projects were undertaken to help two Indigenous communities manage their forest resources.

Action on illegal logging

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 came into effect in November 2012. It is now a criminal offence to import illegally logged timber and timber products into Australia or to process Australian raw logs that have been harvested illegally.

We worked closely with key governments, domestic and international industry bodies and non-government organisations to draft the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment Regulation 2013 to support the Act. The regulation will require importers of regulated timber products and domestic processors of raw logs to undertake due diligence from 30 November 2014. The development of the regulation was a commitment to our stakeholders and was supported by expert advice, industry research and ABARES analysis of trade statistics.

We consulted widely with stakeholders on the progress of the new laws, both domestically and internationally. This included consultation in Australia’s states and territories, public seminars in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand and presentations to the Asia– Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and Chatham House.

Regional and international cooperation

Regional capacity building

In December 2012, the minister and the parliamentary secretary announced the Illegal Logging Regional Capacity Building Partnership. The partnership, supported through the International Forest Carbon Initiative, focuses on building capacity in the Asia–Pacific region to implement timber legality systems. It provided $2 million to support competitive projects through the ITTO’s Thematic Programme on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.

A further $6 million was provided to The Nature Conservancy to support the second phase of the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade initiative, comprising 118 activities across key trading partner countries in the Asia–Pacific region.

International engagement

Australia continued to promote sustainable forestry management through high-level multilateral engagement and within our valued bilateral relationships. In 2012–13, we participated in key sessions at the United Nations (UN) Forum on Forests and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Forestry. We also attended the 48th session of the ITTO Council and met key trading partners in the council’s margins to discuss in greater detail Australia’s work on combating illegal logging.

In March 2013, we hosted a delegation from the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority. We also held discussions with our Indonesian counterparts from the Ministry of Forestry at a meeting of the Australia–Indonesia Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation held in Perth in December 2012. In May 2013, we met a delegation from the People’s Republic of China, led by the Asia– Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and, in the same month, supported delegates from China’s State Forestry Administration on a short study mission to Australia.

New Zealand¿s Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy (left), and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig. 

In August 2012, Australia and New Zealand strengthened ties by signing a formal Arrangement on Combating Illegal Logging and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management. The bilateral arrangement provides a framework for continuing cooperation to tackle the impact of the illegal logging trade on Australia’s and New Zealand’s economies and the environment.

New Zealand’s Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy (left), and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig.

Photo: DAFF

Scientific and economic research

ABARES published Australia’s forests at a glance 2012, which provided an overview of national information on both the native forest and plantations and their contribution to the economy, and continued to work with state and territory agencies to prepare Australia’s state of the forests report 2013.

ABARES published two editions of Australian forest and wood products statistics, with methodology improvements jointly funded with FWPA. In addition, ABARES published the 2013 update to Australian plantation statistics, based on information from the National Plantation Inventory.

Other studies included analysis of Australia’s timber imports in 2007 and 2010, to support the development of illegal logging regulations. ABARES models and forecasts developed in Preliminary long-term forecasts of wood product demand in Australia provided a timely outlook for long-term demand for major wood products in Australia. A report on the status of Australia’s forest genetic resources contributed to an FAO global assessment of forest genetic resources.

Challenges

Renewal of regional forest agreements

All RFAs state that the process for extending their duration will be agreed as part of the third five-yearly review process. In 2012–13, only two of the 10 RFAs had third five-yearly reviews due, but neither review was initiated. The reviews of the RFAs for East Gippsland in Victoria, and Tasmania have been delayed pending decisions on consolidating the five Victorian RFAs into a single review and implementing of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement 2013.

The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘not met’ in 2012–13.

Tasmanian forests

The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement included the provision of $45 million for a Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program. In 2011–12, the program provided 58 grants to eligible Tasmanian harvest, haulage and silvicultural contractors to help them adjust to the downturn in the forestry industry and the exit of Gunns Limited from native forest logging.

During 2012–13, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) undertook a performance audit of the program and found that, despite a challenging delivery environment, the department worked quickly to distribute funding to eligible applicants. However, the ANAO identified areas where DAFF should strengthen its grants administration to better meet the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines (CGGs).

The ANAO made three recommendations to strengthen and improve grants administration processes. We accepted all recommendations and introduced additional training for all staff and external assessors involved in grants management processes, to reinforce the key principles outlined in the newly updated CGGs.

The Senate referred the ANAO’s 2012–13 report and an earlier report on Tasmanian forest industry assistance programs to its Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee. DAFF is considering the committee’s report, which was released in June 2013. More information is available from the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee.

Asia–Pacific Forestry Skills and Capacity Building program

The Asia–Pacific Forestry Skills and Capacity Building program was scheduled to cease on 30 June 2013. As noted in the Annual Report 2011–12, Phase 2 projects planned for Indonesia did not proceed. However, we were able to rapidly refocus $8 million into the Illegal Logging Regional Capacity Building Partnership, a multilateral delivery mechanism that continues to deliver effectively against project objectives.

The Phase 2 projects planned for Papua New Guinea experienced delays on the ground. We worked closely with the project partners, the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority and the FAO, to manage both projects. Together with AusAID we negotiated an extension until September 2013 for the first project, and an extension until May 2014 for the project with the FAO to enable delivery of the delayed project outcomes.

The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘not met’ in 2012–13.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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