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New growth for Australian forests: report

forestry logs stock image

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has released Australia State of the Forests Report 2018 (SOFR 2018).

Acting ABARES Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said the five-yearly report covered all areas of Australia’s forests—public and private forests, forests managed for production and forests managed for conservation—and the full range of social, economic and environmental values.

“Gaining a better understanding of our forests is a crucial part of ensuring they are managed sustainably. That’s why this report is so important—it provides the information that Australia’s policy-makers and planners need if they are to plan continued growth into the future,” Mr Gooday said.

“In 2015–16 Australia’s forest area was 134 million hectares, and has increased by almost 4 million hectares over the previous 5 years.

“The area of commercial plantations did reduce, however, by 44 thousand hectares or 2 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

“In 2015-16, the value of logs harvested from native forests and commercial plantations was $2.3 billion, and the value of production of wood products industries was $23.7 billion.

“Australia’s trade in wood products experienced strong growth, with imports and exports combined exceeding $8 billion for the first time in 2015–16.

“The total number of people directly employed in the forest sector was 51,983 in 2016, a 24 per cent decrease from 2011.

“A total of 46 million hectares (35 per cent) of Australia’s native forest is on land protected for biodiversity conservation, or where biodiversity conservation is a specified management intent.

“The most common threats to nationally listed forest-dwelling fauna and flora include forest loss from clearing for agriculture, grazing, and urban and industrial development, as well as impacts of predators, small population sizes and unsuitable fire regimes.

“The total area of forest in Australia burnt one or more times during the period 2011–12 to 2015–16 was 55 million hectares (41 per cent of Australia’s total forest area).

“Carbon stocks in Australia’s forests increased by 0.6 per cent, to 21,949 million tonnes, during the period 2011–16. In addition, in 2015–16, 94 million tonnes of carbon was present in wood and wood products in use in 2016, and 50 million tonnes of carbon in wood and wood products in landfill.”

SOFR 2018 is the fifth in a series of national five-yearly reports on Australia’s forests, and covers a range of social, economic and environmental values. Previous national SOFR reports were published in 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013.

Source: ABARES

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