WA Plants 8.5M Seedlings: Timber Gap Looms, More Planting Urged

2023 has seen an increase of 2 million seedlings planted over past years however Western Australia still faces a 'timber famine' from 2030 due to lack of investment in plantation establishment.

Tue 08 Aug 23


The Western Australian forest industry has planted over 8.5 million pine seedlings to meet record-high demand for timber and timber-based products.

As reported in April, the World Bank and FAO forecast that timber demand will quadruple over the next 30 years, with tree planting a crucial part of the Government’s commitment to net zero.

In response, Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA) has set a target of 10,000 hectares of new pine plantings over the next seven years.

Announced in 2022, FIFWA is targeting 100,000 hectares of new plantation investment by 2030.

FIFWA is the peak industry association for forestry in Western Australia. 

They represent the native and plantation forestry industries, including forest growers, harvest and haul operators, softwood and hardwood processors and saw millers.

In September 2021, the Western Australian Government announced a 10-year program investing $350 million to establish around 35,000 hectares of new pine trees. 

Mark McGowan was a strong supporter of fuel reduction burning in forests. Wood Central understands that McGowan was wedged into the accelerated Native Forest Ban by the WA Labor left-factions. (Image credit: The West)
Former Premier Mark McGowan announced the plantation commitment as part of the state’s transition from native forest management. (Image credit: The West)

Forest Products Commission (FPC) will control the plantations and, in addition to the wood, will generate carbon credits to help meet the state’s carbon reduction goals.

According to FIFWA CEO Adele Farina, the increase in plantings was a sign that the plantation industry was thriving, and it was a positive step that government plantings were also increasing.

“This season, we’ve seen an increase in approximately two million seedlings, and while we are still heading towards a major shortfall of timber in the 2030s, the increase in plantings is a big step in the right direction.” 

Forest Industries Federation WA CEO Adele Farina, sawmills expecting their contracted sawlogs have been left high and dry. (Photo Credit: Supplied)
Forest Industries Federation WA CEO Adele Farina said the increased plantings are a positive step but more needs to be done. (Photo Credit: Supplied)

Speaking to the West Australian, Ms Farina said, “The planting will ensure a supply of timber for future generations, as well as helping fight climate change, providing employment, underpinning regional communities and creating renewable and sustainable products.”

WA’s plantation sector, which consists of hardwood and softwood varieties, contributes more than $1.18 billion in economic activity.

In June 2023, the Australian Government announced a new Plantation Establishment Grants Program providing $73.8 million in grant funding over four years from 2023–24.

The program will help Australia grow much-needed timber and wood fibre supply for the nation’s future.

Funding for the program will be available across multiple rounds from 2023-24 to 2026-27, with $2000 per hectare to be provided by the Government for every hectare of long rotation plantation established. 

In July, Wood Central contributor Gavin Butcher analysed both schemes reporting that “both schemes target land that can generate carbon credits, providing immediate financial returns to compensate for the low value and long-time frames for timber investment.” 

He concluded that “the WA government should consider improving its scheme to include more cost-effective, community-friendly landowner-based options, and it should address the fire risks.”


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