The Australian Forest Products Association has called on the Federal Cabinet to urgently address Australia’s growing dependence on overseas timber and wood fibre imports and its shrinking forest plantation estate. According to Acting CEO, Natasa Sikman, both issues threaten Australia’s sovereign capacity.
According to statistics provided by Forest and Wood Products Australia:
- The volume of hardwood imports into Victoria has increased by nearly 40 percent since 2019, when the Victorian Government announced the 2030 closure of native forestry
- By volume, the majority of Australia’s hardwood imports are coming from Brazil Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and the USA
- 86 per cent of imports are coming from countries with a worse environmental index than Australia (the Yale Environmental Index)
As the global community actively works towards decarbonisation and phasing out plastics, the demand for timber products is experiencing a surge not just in Australia but also internationally.
However, Sikman points out that as Victoria and Western Australia’s state governments close down sustainable native timber industries, imports of hardwood products are on the rise.
“It makes no sense that we are closing down our own sustainably managed state-based native forestry industries while imports of the products they produce are growing steeply.”
“Furthermore, our national forestry plantation estate is also declining when we know national and global demand for the products they produce is growing sharply,” Natasa Sikman said.
The Victorian and Western Australian state forests are both certified under the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management – and are certified as ‘Responsible Wood’ certified – this standard is internationally recognised by PEFC International, the world’s largest forest certification scheme.
Currently, 13% of global forests are certified to either PEFC and/or FSC certification.
“It’s unconscionable that we are closing down our world-leading sustainable industries here while we import products, often from places with lesser environmental controls than Australia,” Natasa Sikman said.
With the Victoria government deciding to bring forward the closure of the state’s native forestry industry by the end of 2023, Siklman warned, “this will only further tighten much-needed timber and wood fibre supply.”
“We need to keep our sustainable native forestry sector open and get more new plantation trees planted to meet the future national and global demand for timber and wood fibre products.”
“Doing this also helps Australia fight climate change, because more trees means more carbon out of the atmosphere locked away in the products those trees create, and the fact is properly managed sustainable native forests store more carbon, as identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
“Australia’s forest sector is good for the climate, good for jobs and good for Australia’s sovereign capability in essential products, like timber house frames, cardboard boxes and paper products that Australians love.”