The critical wood shortage is a key focus of the federal government’s new forest research centres to be established under the Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI).
“We need to support the growing demand for domestically and internationally wood and fibre products, and the impacts of climate change to deliver research that will support the management of forests and the products they produce,” said Julie Gaglia, Assistant Secretary for Agvet Chemicals and Forestry.
Expressions of interest will identify and recommend applicants for the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to contract AFWI research centres. The two research facilities will be in addition to the research centre at UTAS in Launceston.
“The centres will focus on different research themes, which are likely to include supporting Australian-made solutions to climate change, sustainable forest management, and the critical wood supply shortage,” Ms Gaglia said.
“AFWI research centres will work collaboratively with industry,” she said.
“The total export value of Australian forest and wood products for 2020-21 was more than $2.9 billion. This initiative will support the industry’s work towards increasing this value while creating career opportunities for forest and wood products researchers.”
Industry has welcomed the research that will address Australia’s critical shortage of timber.
The housing construction sector’s reliance on imported timber will double by 2050 if Australia falls short of the plan for an additional one billion production trees.
As reported in Wood Central, demand for new housing will rise from 183,000 new dwellings a year to 259,000 by 2050, driving an increase of almost 50% in demand for timber.
International demand for timber continues to surge, and Australia has yet to be able to source around 20 % of housing requirements needed from imports.
The critical timber shortages of the past two years have exposed Australia’s over-reliance on timber imports, which have become more expensive and difficult to source, which has driven up building costs and significantly delayed construction.
Commonwealth funding for the research centres, established under the $100 million grant to UTAS, is available from 2023-24 to 2026-27.
“We look forward to seeing what the centres will deliver,” Julie Gaglia said.
Expressions of interest are open until December 6 this year.
For more information, contact the Department of Agriculture.