AFPA calls for discussion on reliance of overseas timber

by | Jun 6, 2023

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has called for the Federal Cabinet to discuss Australia’s increasing reliance on overseas timber and wood fibre imports along with the country’s shrinking locally-based forest plantation estate. They claim these as an issue that reduces Australia’s sovereign capability as a nation.

“As the world seeks to decarbonise and phase out plastics, the demand for timber products in Australia and internationally is growing rapidly. Australia is among the world’s best when it comes to sustainable management of the forest sector, including native and plantation forestry,” AFPA Climate Policy Manager, Natasa Sikman said.

“Alarmingly, at a time when the state governments in Victoria and Western Australia are shutting down sustainable native timber industries, imports of hardwood products are skyrocketing. It is 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,” Ms Sikman said.

Recent Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) statistics show that the volume of hardwood imports into Victoria has increased by nearly 40 per cent since 2019 – when the Andrews 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 – with 86 per cent of imports coming from countries with a worse environmental index than Australia.

“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,” Ms Sikman said.

“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.”

Ms Sikman says that by doing this it also helps Australia fight climate change.

“Because more trees mean 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,” Ms Sikman concluded.