TIMBER UPDATE February 2022

by | Feb 15, 2022

More timber in construction to lower emissions

The Australian Government, through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), is investing $300 million to support the Timber Building Program in an effort to increase support for the use of low-carbon timber in the construction sector, while also supporting forestry jobs across Australia.

The program is set to promote the use of low-carbon engineered wood materials in apartments and office buildings to reduce construction-related emissions and create jobs in the forest industries. 

CEFC Chief Executive Officer Ian Learmonth said that timber has been used in construction for generations and innovations in engineered wood products have created new opportunities for mass timber construction to be used in larger projects, creating the potential for immediate and long-term environmental benefits.  

“Our new Timber Building Program will help finance this transition by encouraging owners, developers and builders to use lower carbon engineered wood products in their projects. The CEFC has a strong track record in financing new market developments, from large-scale solar to cleantech start-ups. We are excited to bring this expertise to sustainable construction,” Mr Learmonth said.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor agreed that the forestry industry has great potential to support jobs in Australian cities and regions while reducing emissions 

“Increased use of low-carbon construction materials like wood products will help achieve our target of net zero emissions by 2050. The production and delivery of building materials account for 28 per cent of emissions in the construction industry globally,” Minister Taylor said.

“Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan sets out the approach the Government is taking to help industries reduce their emissions, through research and enabling technologies,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said this was another example of the Morrison Government backing forest industries. 

“Forest industries make an enormous contribution to rural and regional communities across Australia and employ over 65,000 people,” Assistant Minister Duniam said. 

“Through our National Forest Industries Plan we are reducing barriers to investment in our plantation estate, improving Australia’s value-adding capability and delivering opportunities for better returns on investment for our foresters.”

“This program is another key initiative that will help to incentivise the making of more innovative forest and wood products right here in Australia and create more jobs in the regions,” he said.

Last month, the Government released a new Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) method to support plantation forestry projects to earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). ACCUs can be sold to the government or the voluntary private market.

The new ERF method builds on regulatory reforms designed to encourage more plantation forestry projects in key forestry regions across Australia.

The program will finance eligible projects Australia-wide on a case-by-case basis, which includes construction projects in office, retail, industrial, healthcare, education, residential, seniors living, hotels, and student accommodation. 

The program also aims to develop local skills and experience that will lead to more low carbon timber-based building activity in the future. 

Growing the return on Tasmanian timber 

Bell Bay Mill. Image source: AFPA

The Tasmanian Government has recently announced that it will invest $6 million within the Tasmanian timber and forestry industry in an effort to increase value-added production and support regional jobs. Seven projects around Tasmania will share in the substantial investment through the government’s ‘Forestry On-Island Processing Program’, which will help the sector turn existing wood supplies, as well as wood residues, into higher-value products.

The fund injections will lead to a direct $23 million investment in modern processing and production processes in facilities located around the state, from Smithton to Bell Bay to Glenorchy.

The investment is expected to add value to the current timber harvest, better utilise wood residue, help insulate the industry from international commodity markets, reduce the need for imported wood products and support the construction industry locally. It will also help secure scores of jobs across Tasmania and lead to at least 30 new direct and indirect positions.

The projects receiving funding include upgrades to processing facilities that will see more value coming from Tasmanian’s renewable forest supply by converting low-grade plantation timber into high-value boards and also construction of wall and roof trusses to be sold locally and nationally.

The program will also help improve timber recovery processes that will see more local wood replacing imported timber, increased output of treated pine products and an expansion of the amount of sawn timber and by-products generated from lower grade logs.

The supported projects include:

Timberlink Australia Pty Ltd – $1,063,304 to create a finger-jointing and priming line to convert low-grade and short length plantation pine into high value boards, fascia and posts.

CMTP Pty Ltd – $2,500,000 to upgrade the Branxholm Sawmill facility to a world-class standard, significantly increasing processing volumes of sawn log at increased lengths, with an improvement in timber recovery. The additional sawn timber volumes will replace imported timber.

McKay Investments Pty Ltd – $1,049,235 to upgrade truss plant facilities for the manufacture of wall and roof trusses and install an upgraded finger jointing and laminating plant.

Britton Brothers Pty Ltd – $689,000 towards a specialised timber recovery line that will join short lengths of timber into useable long sections.

GL & VN Barber Pty Ltd – $250,000 to upgrade the existing kiln drying facility and install timber moulding capability to produce sawn timber and by-products from lower grade logs.

Koppers Wood Products – $250,000 to upgrade its Longford pine processing facility to reduce waste and significantly increase the efficiency and output of treated pine post-production processing.

Bakes Sawmill Pty Ltd – $147,668 for the purchase, installation and commissioning of wood treatment equipment to produce treated timber for a range of products – adding value to what is currently chipped residue wood.

AFPA welcomes Andrew Leighton as new FWPA CEO

Australia’s forest industries recently welcomed Andrew Leighton as the new Chief Executive Officer of Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Victor Violante said Mr Leighton is well known throughout domestic forest industries.

“Mr Leighton’s senior roles include seven years as Managing Director of Norske Skog Australasia and he is a former vice-chair of the AFPA board. He is an excellent choice to lead FWPA into its next stages of research and development, including implementation of FWPA’s new strategic plan,” Mr Violante said.

“There are exciting opportunities ahead for forest industries research and development as the world moves towards carbon-friendly products, but also major challenges where Mr Leighton will have an intimate knowledge and understanding. It is particularly exciting to hear that Mr Leighton will also reiterate his strong belief in forest industries supporting environmental sustainability,” he said.

The AFPA works closely with FWPA on aligning industry research and development with industry needs, according to Mr Violante, while also addressing emerging challenges and opportunities for the sector and continuing to be at the forefront of global trends. 

“Mr Leighton’s extensive experience in Australia’s forest industries will ensure this strong collaboration continues. On behalf of Australia’s forest industries and the AFPA team, I welcome Andrew Leighton to his new position and look forward to a constructive working relationship in 2022 and beyond,” Mr Violante concluded.