Report details challenges for Australia's forest sector

​22 November 2012

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) today released the bi–annual Australian forest and wood products statistics update, providing insight into the economic and trade environment for the wood products manufacturing industry.

The report contains trade data for the March and June 2012 quarters as well as updated production data, financial information (such as price indexes, wages, sales and service income) and industry value added data. Employment statistics for 2011–12 are also covered.

ABARES Executive Director Paul Morris said for the first time, this issue of the Australian forest and wood product​​s statistics also includes a range of socio–economic indicators.

“The 2011–12 report will provide an important baseline for socio–economic indicators across the industry that in the past have not been consistently measured or reported,” Mr Morris said.

“These indicators have been developed in consultation with industry representatives to inform decisions and policy outcomes,”

Socio–economic indicators are organised under four categories - employment, contribution of industry to the community, workers' wellbeing and work force diversity - that will be tracked across 11 reporting regions in future reports.

In other areas, this year's report indicates that Australia's wood product manufacturers have faced lowered domestic demand for wood products and a reduction in key export markets.

Australia's weak housing activity continued into 2011–12, with total dwelling commencements declining by 11 per cent following falls in every state and territory.

Additionally, the prices of timber products used in housing construction declined by 6.4 per cent in 2011–12, putting further pressure on profitability for domestic wood producers.

The high Australian dollar has also placed pressure on the domestic industry. While the value of wood product imports were down 4.7 per cent, to $4.2 billion, in 2011–12, the value of exports declined by around 10 per cent, to $2.2 billion.

Exports of woodchips declined between 2010–11 and 2011–12 by 17.5 per cent to $729 million. Exports from Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia fell, but this was partly offset by an $81 million increase in exports from Victoria.