3. Results of the case study

This section presents results for each of the indicators tested in this case study. The key uses and limitations of each indicator are explained, and conclusions are drawn as to its usefulness of the indicator for monitoring of changes in the forest industry.

The indicators are presented in four sections:

  • Characteristics of the forest industry;
  • Impacts of the forest industry on the broader community;
  • Impacts of the forest industry on its workforce; and
  • Impacts of the forest industry on Indigenous people.

3.1 Characteristics of the forest industry

The indicators in this section provide information on the following characteristics of the forest industry:

  • Direct employment in the forest industry;
  • Estimated value of forest industry production;
  • Estimated volume of forest industry production;
  • Efficiency of production (labour productivity); and
  • Consumption of wood and paper products.

These characteristics provide a useful basis for analysing how the forest industry is changing in terms of employment, production and consumption. These characteristics are important to track over time, as changes in characteristics of the industry are likely to be associated with changes in the social and economic impacts of the industry on its workers, and on local and regional communities.

3.1.1 Employment in the forest industry

Direct employment in the forest industry in north east Tasmania was measured in three ways, in which total employment and change in employment over time was measured for:

  • The forest industry as a whole;
  • The ‘forestry and logging’, and ‘wood and paper product manufacturing sectors’ of the industry; and
  • The plantation and native forestry sectors.

Each measure is useful as it provides an understanding of not just how many jobs there are, but where jobs are located within the industry.

The data presented are all based on ABS Census of Population and Housing data. These data are likely to exclude some contractors working in the forest industry, particularly silvicultural and transport workers. Based on Schirmer (2008), ABS estimates undercount direct reliance on forest industry employment by approximately 13% in Tasmania, as they exclude many silvicultural contractors and do not include contractors transporting timber to mills5.

Data on employment in the native forest and plantation sectors were based on a brief telephone survey of forestry firms in the region. All the data are based on where forestry workers live, rather than where they work as it draws on ‘place of usual residence’ data from the ABS6.

Employment in the forest industry as a whole

A total of 1,852 people were employed in the forest industry in north east Tasmania in 20067. Employment in different parts of the region is shown in Figure 3, and the rate of change over time in Figure 4. Of the people employed in forestry in north east Tasmania, 37.4% (691 people) were based on Launceston, and 24.2% in Dorset (449 people). Other municipalities had fewer forestry workers, although Meander Valley, West Tamar and Break O’Day all had over 100 forest industry workers in 2006.

Total employment in the forest industry in north east Tasmania shows different patterns to the Tasmanian average, with slight growth over 1996 to 2001 followed by decline over 2001 to 2006, while in Tasmania as a whole, employment declined over both periods. In Australia forestry employment grew over 1996-2001 and subsequently declined over 2001-2006.

Individual localities within north east Tasmania a have shown a range of patterns, however in most areas employment in forestry grew slightly (in terms of numbers and, where high numbers are employed, rate of growth) over 1996-2001 and fell over 2001-20068.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 3: Employment in forest industry, total all sectors, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 3: Employment in forest industry, total all sectors, 1996, 2001, 2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 4: Rate of change in employment in forest industry, total all sectors, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 4: Rate of change in employment in forest industry, total all sectors, 1996, 2001, 20069

Employment in the forestry and logging, and wood and paper product manufacturing, sectors

Total employment in the ‘forestry and logging’ and ‘wood and paper product manufacturing’ sectors is shown in Figures 5 to 8. Forestry and logging is defined as the activities of growing and managing forests, and harvesting trees. Wood and paper product manufacturing involves processing wood and paper products, and includes people who work in woodchip mills, sawmills, wood-based panel production, and pulp and paper production.

Overall, 65.7% of people who worked in the north east Tasmania forest industry in 2008 worked in wood and paper product manufacturing, while 34.3% were employed in forestry and logging activities. The latter figure is likely to undercount the true level of activity that occurs prior to processing, with Schirmer (2008) finding that ABS data do not include many silvicultural contractors who work in activities such as ground and soil preparation, tree planting, fertilising and pest and weed control while plantations are growing. However, it is evident that the manufacturing sector supports the majority of employment in the forest industry in north east Tasmania.

The proportion of workers employed in each sector is similar in north east Tasmania and Tasmania as a whole (in Tasmania as a whole, 65.7% of forestry workers are employed in wood and paper product manufacturing and 34.3% in forestry and logging). Both north east Tasmania and Tasmania differ considerably from the Australian average, however, with 87.3% of forestry workers across Australia working in wood and paper product manufacturing and 12.7% in forestry and logging. This indicates there is a lower level of processing/value adding of wood products relative to the volume of timber logged in Tasmania compared to the Australian average.

In many parts of north east Tasmania, forestry and logging employment grew over 1996 to 2001, and subsequently declined. The exceptions were Break O’Day, Meander Valley – Pt B, where there was consistent decline; and Launceston – Pt B where there has been continuing growth in forestry and logging employment10. When trends in Australia are compared to trends in Tasmania for forestry and logging, Tasmania experienced greater growth in employment over1996-2001 than the Australian average and a slightly lower decline in employment over 2001-2006.

Employment in wood and paper product manufacturing showed more consistent decline over 1996-2001 and 2001-2006 than employment in forestry and logging, with almost all north east Tasmanian regions experiencing decline. Areas which did not experience decline typically had relatively low numbers of employees, meaning that an increase involved a small number of people. While north east Tasmania experienced decline in wood and paper product manufacturing employment over both periods, in Tasmania there was growth in employment in wood and paper product manufacturing over 2001-2006. Tasmania as a whole shows different trends to the Australian average – across Australia over 1996-2001, employment in wood and paper product manufacturing increased, while in Tasmania it declined, while the opposite occurred over 2001-2006.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 5: Employment in forestry and logging sector, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 5: Employment in forestry and logging sector, 1996, 2001, 2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 6: Rate of change in employment in forestry and logging sector, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 6: Rate of change in employment in forestry and logging sector, 1996, 2001, 2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 7: Employment in wood and paper product manufacturing sector, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 7: Employment in wood and paper product manufacturing sector, 1996, 2001, 2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 8: Rate of change in employment in wood and paper product manufacturing sector, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Figure 8: Rate of change in employment in wood and paper product manufacturing sector, 1996, 2001, 2006

Employment in the native forest and plantation sectors

North east Tasmania has a greater reliance on plantation employment than Tasmania as a whole, as can be seen in Figure 911. In total, approximately 40% of north east Tasmanian forest industry workers work in the plantation sector, and 60% in native forestry. Plantation sector employment is largely based in Dorset, where there are softwood processing facilities; however, since 2006 when these data were produced, there have been significant job losses due to closure of some softwood milling operations in Dorset. Other local areas within north east Tasmania have similar levels of dependence on plantation forestry to the Tasmanian average, with the exception of Break O’Day and West Tamar where it is estimated more employment is based in the native forestry sector (although Break O’Day does have large areas of plantations, the majority of employment in the municipality was generated in the native forest sector).

These data do not include many silvicultural contractors, and it is likely that once contracting employment is included, employment in hardwood plantations would be higher, as much of the work currently generated in this sector is undertaken by silvicultural contracting firms.

It was not possible to specifically identify the proportion of employment in softwood and hardwood plantations at the local scale, but at the State scale, Schirmer (2008) estimated that of the 31.7% of employment dependent on plantations, 24% was based on softwood plantations and 7.7% on hardwood plantations.

An attempt was made to identify what proportion of plantation-based employment was based in the Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) sector. This was problematic to identify, as:

  • The only businesses which specifically identify as being MIS are those which manage plantations on behalf of investors. It is not possible to identify MIS derived wood at the wood and paper product manufacturing stage, and so it is only possible to examine MIS-based employment in the forestry and logging sector;

  • Within the forestry and logging sector, a considerable proportion of employment is generated in contracting firms, such as silvicultural contractors. However, it was not possible to identify what proportion of silvicultural contractor employment is dependent on the MIS sector based on the limited phone survey of forestry growers undertaken; and

  • Some forestry businesses which manage plantations manage both MIS and non-MIS plantations, and it is very difficult to identify what proportion of their employment is dependent on the MIS and non-MIS parts of their business activities.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 9: Proportion of employment in native forestry and plantation sectors by LGA, 2006.

Figure 9: Proportion of employment in native forestry and plantation sectors by LGA, 2006

Within the limited part of the forestry and logging sector where it was possible to distinguish MIS and non-MIS activities based on publicly available data on the nature of company activities, and data collected via phone contact with forestry businesses and consultation with forest industry experts:

  • Approximately 60% of employment by forest growers across all of Tasmania was in the non-MIS sector; and
  • Approximately 40% of employment by forest growers across all of Tasmania was in the MIS sector.

It is not possible to identify if the same percentages would apply to employment in the forestry and logging part of the plantation sector overall, as it is not known whether the MIS and non-MIS sectors engage similar proportions of silvicultural and harvest contractors.

3.1.2 Estimated value of forest industry production

The value of production of an industry provides important information about its economic impact on the region in which it operates, as the value of production is a useful indicator of the economic activity generated by the industry.

The estimated value of production of the forest industry can be measured at several points in the chain of production:

  • Gross value of log production (roundwood);
  • Gross value of sawnwood;
  • Gross value of wood based panels; and
  • Gross value of paper and paperboard.

There has been more rapid growth in the value of log production in Australia as a whole compared to Tasmania (Figure 10). From 2000-01 to 2003-04, growth in the value of log production was more rapid in Tasmania than for Australia as a whole, while over 2003-04 to 2006-07, the value of log production fell in Tasmania, while it grew in Australia (Figure 11).

North east Tasmania contains a large proportion of Tasmania’s wood production, but it is not possible to identify whether it experienced the same trends as the state in the value of production of the forest industry. Information on value of production was only obtained at national and state level, with specific data on north east Tasmania not able to be obtained12. While forestry processors in the region were asked to provide information on their production, most declined to provide this information for confidentiality reasons, and also because the data can be complex to provide – many wood and paper manufacturers produce a wide variety of products with differing values. In addition, confidentiality concerns mean that it is often not possible to report value of production for local regions, as there are often less than three businesses producing particular products in an SLA or SD, and the business may be individually identifiable if data were presented at these scales.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 10: Estimated value of forest industry production ? gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2006-07.

Figure 10: Estimated value of forest industry production – gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2006-07

This is an image of a graph. Figure 11: Average annual change in value of forest industry production ? gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2003-04 and 2003-04 to 2006-07.

Figure 11: Average annual change in value of forest industry production – gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2003-04 and 2003-04 to 2006-07

3.1.3 Estimated volume of forest industry production

The volume of production of an industry provides important information about its economic impact on the region in which it operates, as the volume of production is a useful indicator of the economic activity generated by the industry. When combined with information on value, it can provide useful data on trends in the industry.

The estimated volume of production of the forest industry can be measured at the following points in the chain of production as initial products such as roundwood are value added to produce products such as paper, sawnwood and wood based panels:

  • Volume of roundwood;
  • Volume of sawnwood;
  • Volume of wood based panels; and
  • Volume of paper and paperboard.

Volume of production, and change over time in volume of logs produced is shown in Figures 12 and 13. From 2000-01 to 2003-04, growth in the volume of log production was more rapid in Tasmania than for Australia as a whole, while over 2003-04 to 2006-07, the volume of log production fell in Tasmania, while it grew in Australia.

It is not possible to identify if north east Tasmania experienced the same trends as the state overall. Information on volume of production was only obtained at national and state level, with specific data on north east Tasmania not able to be obtained13. While forestry processors in the region were asked to provide information on their production, most declined to provide this information for confidentiality reasons, and also because the data can be complex to provide – many wood and paper manufacturers produce a wide variety of products. In addition, confidentiality concerns mean that it is often not possible to report value of production for local regions, as there are often less than three businesses producing particular products in an SLA or SD, and the business may be individually identifiable if data were presented at these scales.

This is an image of a graph Figure 12: Estimated volume of forest industry production ? gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2006-07.

Figure 12: Estimated volume of forest industry production – gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2006-07

This is an image of a graph. Figure 13: Average annual change in volume of forest industry production ? gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2003-04 and 2003-04 to 2006-07.

Figure 13: Average annual change in volume of forest industry production – gross roundwood equivalent, 2000-01 to 2003-04 and 2003-04 to 2006-07

3.1.4 Efficiency of production (labour productivity)

The efficiency of production of an industry is a key measure of economic efficiency, with increases in productivity often indicating increased investment in technology and skills that enable higher production per labour unit, and hence improved competitiveness in the marketplace. From a social viewpoint, changes in efficiency of production may have implications for the number of jobs available in an industry, or the skills required of workers.

This indicator is measured by dividing the volume of output produced by the units of labour required to produce it.

An attempt was made to measure this indicator using data from ABARE’s Forest and Wood Product Statistics, in which the employment required per unit of gross roundwood equivalent produced was calculated. However, the productivity estimates varied widely, most likely because each region produces different types of wood and paper products, and differing amounts of labour are required to produce different products. For example, based on gross roundwood equivalent (GRWE) and total employment in the forest industry, in 2006-07 (ABARE Forest and Wood Product Statistics):

  • 370 cubic metres of GWRE were produced per forestry worker in Australia;
  • 345 cubic metres of GWRE were produced per forestry worker in South Australia;
  • 326 cubic metre of GWRE were produced per forestry worker in Victoria; and
  • 1170 cubic metres of GWRE were produced per forestry worker in Tasmania.

The productivity measure will be most useful if measured separately for different types of wood and paper products, rather than as a generic measure based on gross roundwood equivalent.

It is therefore recommended that efficiency of production be measured using data from direct survey of forestry businesses, and:

  • Be specifically calculated for different types of wood and paper products; and
  • Be calculated separately for the native forest and plantation sectors.

This means this indicator may not be feasible to monitor regularly, and may instead need to be measured based on occasional studies.

It also means it was not possible to identify labour productivity for north east Tasmania forest industry based on currently available data.

3.1.5 Consumption of wood and paper products

Consumption of wood and paper products is a key indicator of demand for these products, and hence of likely trends in forest industry production. Changes in consumption may indicate shifts in social impacts of the forest industry.

The rate of consumption of wood and paper products per capita can only be measured at national scale in Australia, as consumption data are not available at smaller scales.

National consumption per capita is shown in Figure 14 for sawnwood, wood based panels, and paper and paperboard, per 1,000 people, for Australia. It can be seen that:

  • After growing for most of the period of 1995-2003, sawnwood consumption fell over 2004-2007;
  • Consumption of paper and paperboard has grown overall, but not steadily over time, with some decreases in consumption at some points in time; and
  • Consumption of wood based panels has grown over time, with some variation in trends in individual years.

The average annual rate of change in consumption for the periods 1994-95 to 1999-00, and 2000-01 to 2006-07, are shown in Figure 15. Growth in consumption of wood based panels and paper and paperboard was relatively similar across these two periods, while growth in the rate of sawnwood consumption fell considerably in the latter period.

National wood and paper consumption data provide useful information relevant to north east Tasmania. Some of the wood and paper products produced in north east Tasmania are sold into national (as well as international) markets, and forest industry production in the region is likely to be influenced by domestic consumption trends. More detailed study is needed to identify how domestic consumption affects demand, however, as forest industry products produced in north east Tasmania are sold into a range of national and international markets, and the relative influence of changes in different types of demand for wood products domestically and internationally needs further examination.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 14: Consumption of wood and paper products per 1,000 people, 1995-95 to 2006-07.

Figure 14: Consumption of wood and paper products per 1,000 people, 1995-95 to 2006-07

This is an image of a graph. Figure 15: Average annual change in consumption of wood and paper products per 1,000 people, 1995-95 to 2006-07.

Figure 15: Average annual change in consumption of wood and paper products per 1,000 people, 1995-95 to 2006-07

3.2 Impacts of the forest industry on the broader community

The following indicators provide information that can assist in monitoring the social and economic impacts of the forest industry on the communities in which it is situated:

  • Dependence on the forest industry (% employment);
  • Social characteristics of forestry dependent regions;
  • Location of forest industry employment;
  • Impact of forest industry on rural population; and
  • Values, uses and perceptions of forestry activities.

These indicators provide a picture of how dependence of different communities on the forest industry is changing over time, and also how forestry-dependent communities are changing in terms of their key socio-demographic and economic characteristics.

Change in social characteristics may be an indicator both of impacts of the forest industry on a community, and provide important understanding of how characteristics of the communities in which the industry operates may influence the industry. For example, if forestry-dependent communities have low levels of unemployment this may partly reflect job creation in the forest industry, but may also be a result of changes to employment in a range of industries. Low levels of unemployment may indicate the forest industry will have difficulty recruiting workers to fill new jobs, constraining its capacity to expand.

The indicators in this category provided a limited but useful understanding of key characteristics of forestry-dependent communities. They should be accompanied by in-depth studies which examine how people experience and interact with the forest industry, and the impacts of changes to the forest industry.

3.2.1 Dependence on the forest industry (% employment)

A first step in understanding the social and economic impacts of the forest industry is to identify the extent to which different regions depend on the forest industry. This indicator measures dependence by identifying the percentage of the workforce in a given area who depend directly on the forest industry for their employment14.

Within north east Tasmania, the highest dependence on the forest industry for employment occurs in Dorset, where in 2006 almost 16% of the employed workforce worked in the industry. While Dorset had considerably higher dependence on forestry than other parts of north east Tasmania, all local regions in north east Tasmania had higher dependence on the forest industry than the Australian average (Figure 16). North east Tasmania has a higher dependence on the forest industry (3.24%) than the Tasmanian average (2.53%), while the Australian average is lower than that of north east Tasmania or Tasmania as a whole, at 0.80%15. The high dependence on forestry in Dorset in particular, but also more generally throughout north east Tasmania, indicates these regions are likely to experience greater impacts if changes occur to the forest industry than other regions with lower dependence on the forest industry as a source of employment.

Overall dependence on the forest industry has fallen over time in Australia and Tasmania, as can be seen in Figure 17. In north east Tasmania, dependence on forestry employment grew between 1996 and 2001, and subsequently fell. Many local regions within the north east Tasmania followed a similar pattern, although Break O’Day, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands – Part A, and West Tamar – Part A all experienced a decline in dependence over both 1996-2001 and 2001-2006. This indicates that these local regions are becoming less dependent on forestry over time relative to other parts of north east Tasmania. This may be a result of a number of trends, including a shift of forestry workers to be based in other regions; overall decline in number of forestry workers as was seen in Figure 3 for most of these regions; and growth in the overall labour force, such that the forestry workforce represents a smaller part of the total. All three factors are likely to have contributed, with a fall in the total number of forestry workers in many regions, as well as some growth in the labour force. Further work is needed to identify the extent to which shifts in the location of forest industry employment may also have contributed.

Dependence on plantations and native forestry could only be measured for 2006 (Figure 18). Dorset has a much higher dependence on plantation forestry than other areas.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 16: Dependence on the forest industry, measured as proportion of labour force employed, 1996, 2001 and 2006.

Figure 16: Dependence on the forest industry, measured as proportion of labour force employed, 1996, 2001 and 2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 17: Average annual change in dependence on the forest industry, measured as proportion of labour force employed, 1996-2001 and 2001-2006.

Figure 17: Average annual change in dependence on the forest industry, measured as proportion of labour force employed, 1996-2001 and 2001-2006

This is an image of a graph. Figure 18: Dependence on the plantation and native forest sectors by LGA, 2006.

Figure 18: Dependence on the plantation and native forest sectors by LGA, 2006

3.2.2 Social characteristics of forestry-dependent regions

It is possible that forestry-dependent communities have different social characteristics to other communities. These differences may or may not be a result of forest industry activities; either way, they are important to understand as they may influence the ability of a community to adapt to changes in the forest industry.

To better understand whether this is the case, this indicator measures key characteristics believed to be related to a region’s ability to adapt to change, namely whether the total amount, and change, in the following differ for regions with higher and lower dependence on forestry:

  • Total population;
  • Unemployment rate;
  • Educational qualifications (proportion of over 15 population with (a) no post-school qualifications, (b) certificate/diploma, (c) bachelor degree or higher);
  • Median age;
  • Median household income;
  • Dependency ratio, which shows the ratio of population age <15 years and >65 years to the working age population aged 25-64 years; and
  • Economic diversity (measured as proportion of total employed labour force working in the top three employing industries).

Areas within north east Tasmania were classified as having low, medium and high dependence on forestry based on the proportion of the labour force employed in forestry, with:

  • Low = <2% of labour force employed in forestry;
  • Medium = 2% to 5% of labour force employed in forestry;
  • High = 5% to 10% of labour force employed in forestry; and
  • Very high = >10% of labour force employed in forestry.

Based on this classification, the classification shown in Table 2 was identified.

Table 2: Classification of regions by level of dependence on the forest industry

Level of dependence

Region/s

Low dependence

Large scale: Australia

SLAs: Launceston (C)16 – Inner, Meander Valley (M) – Pt A, West Tamar (M) – Part A

Medium dependence

Large scale: Tasmania

Regional scale: Northern SD

SLAs: Meander Valley (M) – Pt B, Northern Midlands (M) – Pt A and Pt B, West Tamar (M) – Pt B, Launceston (C) – Pt B, George Town (M) – Pt A and Pt B

High dependence

SLAs: Break O’Day (M), Launceston (C) – Pt C

Very high dependence

SLAs: Dorset

Information on social characteristics of each region are presented in Table 3. For each, two figures are presented: the level in 2006, and rate of change over 1996-2006. This enables identification of whether regions with higher dependence on forestry have different characteristics (e.g. higher/lower unemployment rate) than other regions, and whether they have been changing in the same ways as other regions.

When characteristics of low, medium and high dependence forestry regions were compared for north east Tasmania, only two differences were observed between areas with differing levels of dependence:

  • In areas with medium or high dependence on forestry, a slightly higher proportion of the adult population had no post-school qualifications, and slightly lower proportion had a bachelor degree or higher qualification, than in areas with low dependence on forestry; and
  • Median household income was slightly lower in areas with medium and high dependence on forestry than other areas.

In both cases, it is entirely possible these differences are due to factors unrelated to the forest industry. The size of difference is relatively small, and it is not possible to identify to what extent the forest industry may either contribute to or be affected by these differences.

No other consistent differences were observed between areas with different levels of dependence on the forest industry, indicating that areas with high dependence on the forest industry have few differences in social characteristics compared to those with less dependence located nearby. For example, of the three areas with high or very high dependence on forestry, one (Break O’Day) had a higher than average unemployment rate, while the other two (Dorset and Launceston – Pt C had unemployment rates below the Tasmanian average.

While areas with high dependence on forestry were rarely different to others, it is useful to identify whether north east Tasmania as a whole has different characteristics to the Tasmanian or Australian average. When examining the data in Table 3, it is apparent that:

  • Most north east Tasmanian regions, and Tasmania as a whole, experienced either negative population growth or slower growth than the national average, with the exception of Meander Valley – Pt A, which experienced rapid population growth over 1996 to 2006. Meander Valley – Pt A effectively forms part of Launceston, and has had suburban development during this period;

  • The overall unemployment rate in Tasmania is higher than the Australian unemployment rate in 2006, but this varies in individual SLAs, with some having a much higher unemployment rate than the Tasmanian average and others having a lower rate than the average;

  • Unemployment rates fell in all regions examined over 1996-2006;

  • The proportion of the population age over 15 with no post-school qualifications fell in all regions over 1996 to 2006, while the proportion of the population with a bachelor degree or other postgraduate qualification grew;

  • Median age grew in all areas; Break O’Day has a particularly high median age compared to all other regions;

  • Median household income was highest in urban centres and large regional centres, and lower in rural areas. Break O’Day had a considerably lower average household income than all other regions in 2006; and

  • While the overall dependency ratio – the proportion of the population aged under 15 and over 65 compared to those aged 25-64 – grew in Australia over 1996-2006, in most Tasmanian regions it either fell, or grew more slowly than the Australian average. Where the dependency ratio is falling, this indicates a growing number of working age people compared to ‘dependent’ aged population (whether child or retirement age); slow growth indicates that the proportion of children and elderly are increasing as a proportion of the population.
Table 3: Social characteristics of north east Tasmania

Forestry dependence

Region

2006 - Total population

Change in population 1996-2006

2006 – Unemployment rate

Change in unemployment rate 1996-2006

2006 - % population with no post-school quals

Low

Australia

19,855,288

1.18%

5.24%

-4.29%

60.58%

Low

Launceston (C) - Inner

407

-0.49%

3.20%

-6.47%

50.00%

Low

Meander Valley (M) - Pt A

8176

2.06%

3.70%

-4.27%

64.39%

Low

West Tamar (M) - Pt A

18414

0.76%

5.45%

-4.37%

59.54%

Med

Tasmania

476,480

0.26%

6.58%

-4.03%

64.43%

Med

Northern SD

133,932

0.23%

6.39%

-4.32%

65.64%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt A

5459

-0.34%

11.32%

-3.49%

72.86%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt B

1002

0.03%

7.21%

-4.50%

69.66%

Med

Launceston (C) - Pt B

59277

0.02%

7.14%

-3.98%

64.80%

Med

Meander Valley (M) - Pt B

9889

-0.10%

6.36%

-4.97%

69.32%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt A

7376

0.79%

4.46%

-4.87%

67.58%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt B

4436

-0.22%

5.99%

-4.58%

70.67%

Med

West Tamar (M) - Pt B

1827

0.35%

5.02%

-5.44%

65.46%

High

Break O'Day (M)

6017

0.66%

9.02%

-5.60%

69.13%

High

Launceston (C) - Pt C

2729

-0.34%

5.58%

-5.22%

64.12%

V. high

Dorset (M)

6819

-0.39%

5.67%

-1.98%

71.56%

Data source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1996, 2001, 2006

 

Table 3: Social characteristics of north east Tasmania (cont.)

Forestry dependence

Region

Change in population with no post-school quals, 1996-2006

2006 - % population with bachelor degree or higher

Change in % population with bachelor degree+ 1996-2006

2006 - Median age (years)

Change in median age 1996-2006

Low

Australia

-1.34%

15.59%

4.96%

37

0.88%

Low

Launceston (C) - Inner

-2.09%

25.94%

3.47%

38

1.18%

Low

Meander Valley (M) - Pt A

-1.16%

8.89%

4.94%

37

2.33%

Low

West Tamar (M) - Pt A

-1.31%

13.48%

4.55%

40

1.43%

Med

Tasmania

-1.26%

11.90%

4.78%

38

1.18%

Med

Northern SD

-1.26%

10.50%

4.91%

38

1.18%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt A

-0.89%

5.06%

5.25%

38

1.88%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt B

-1.24%

5.82%

8.91%

42

2.00%

Med

Launceston (C) - Pt B

-1.29%

12.25%

4.73%

36

0.91%

Med

Meander Valley (M) - Pt B

-1.27%

8.18%

5.23%

42

1.67%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt A

-1.24%

7.95%

5.27%

39

1.47%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt B

-1.35%

7.59%

11.84%

40

1.11%

Med

West Tamar (M) - Pt B

-0.95%

8.14%

3.70%

38

1.52%

High

Break O'Day (M)

-1.27%

7.22%

5.20%

46

2.11%

High

Launceston (C) - Pt C

-1.32%

10.00%

4.32%

39

1.82%

V. high

Dorset (M)

-1.19%

6.07%

4.02%

41

1.71%

Data source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1996, 2001, 2006

 

Table 3: Social characteristics of north east Tasmania (cont.)

Forestry dependence

Region

2006 - Median household income

Change in median household income 1996-2006

2006 – Dependency ratio

Change in dependency ratio 1996-2006

Low

Australia

$1027

6.59%

0.50

2.41%

Low

Launceston (C) - Inner

$877

9.62%

0.59

-0.26%

Low

Meander Valley (M) - Pt A

$1011

5.32%

0.45

-1.44%

Low

West Tamar (M) - Pt A

$904

5.61%

0.12

0.55%

Med

Tasmania

$800

5.44%

0.53

-0.27%

Med

Northern SD

$759

5.43%

0.54

-0.17%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt A

$636

3.50%

0.51

-0.81%

Med

George Town (M) - Pt B

$825

7.63%

0.51

-0.26%

Med

Launceston (C) - Pt B

$752

5.47%

0.61

-0.37%

Med

Meander Valley (M) - Pt B

$693

5.26%

0.53

0.40%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt A

$842

5.31%

0.46

-0.99%

Med

Northern Midlands (M) - Pt B

$710

5.71%

0.56

-0.38%

Med

West Tamar (M) - Pt B

$972

6.70%

0.60

0.46%

High

Break O'Day (M)

$558

4.16%

0.53

0.03%

High

Launceston (C) - Pt C

$871

5.89%

0.46

-0.62%

V. high

Dorset (M)

$652

3.81%

0.56

-0.12%

Data source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1996, 2001, 2006

3.2.3 Location of forest industry employment

The location of jobs can provide important information on their social impact, and on what types of towns will be most impacted by a change in employment in an industry. Recent studies have indicated that many people believe the majority of jobs in the forest industry are located in larger towns and regional centres, and fewer in small towns and villages (see for example Schirmer et al. 2008c). Identifying where forest industry employment is located can help identify whether these perceptions are correct, and also whether the location of forest industry jobs is changing over time.

This indicator compares the proportion of forestry employment located in different sized towns versus the proportion of (a) employment in the agricultural sector, and (b) overall employment. Town size was classified into groups of rural areas towns with:

  • Rural land and localities with < 200 population;
  • 200-499 population;
  • 5,00-999 population;
  • 1,000-1,999 population;
  • 2,000-2,999 population;
  • 3,000-4,999 population;
  • 5,000-9,999 population; and
  • > 10,000 population.

This range of town sizes was selected as many of the towns in the areas being studied had a population of less than 5,000, and so it was considered useful to ensure several categories of town size were included. Only one city with > 10,000 population – Launceston - was included in the study region, and all others than a population of less than 5,000, so that there are no data for the 5,000 to 9,999 population category.

Overall, the distribution of forest industry employment in north east Tasmania is relatively similar to the distribution of the total labour force across differently sized towns (Figure 19)17. The key difference is that a moderately higher proportion of forest industry employment is located in towns with less than 1,999 population and on rural land compared to the distribution of the labour force overall.

Forest industry employment is much more urbanised than the location of agricultural employment. This indicates that any shift from traditional agriculture to forest industry-based employment is likely to be accompanied by some shift of employment to regional centres, although 55.9% of forest industry employees in north east Tasmania live in towns or rural areas with populations of less than 2,000.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 19: Proportion of forestry, agricultural and total employment in localities of different sizes, 2006.

Figure 19: Proportion of forestry, agricultural and total employment in localities of different sizes, 2006

3.2.4 Impact of forest industry on rural population

In recent years, concerns have been expressed that expansion of plantations may lead to change in the population of small rural towns and on rural land. This indicator compares rural population change in areas experiencing different rates of plantation expansion, to identify if there are identifiable differences in rural population change in areas experiencing rapid rates of plantation expansion compared to the average rate of change in rural population. Rural population is defined as the population living on rural properties and in localities (small towns and settlements) with less than 200 residents. This social indicator relates to plantation forestry only, as these concerns have been expressed exclusively about plantation expansion and do not relate to native forestry.

Change in the total area of plantations18 and average annual rate of change in rural population over 1996 to 2006 are shown in Figure 20. When the rate of plantation expansion is compared to change in rural population, no apparent pattern is seen – areas with higher rates of plantation expansion did not experience higher rates of population decline, and vice versa. Rural population declined somewhat in most regions, irrespective of whether they were experiencing plantation expansion, and rates of rural population decline were not higher in areas experiencing the most plantation expansion.

This indicates that, at the SLA scale, the expansion of plantations in recent years in north east Tasmania has not had an impact on overall rural population levels that is able to be distinguished from other factors influencing rural population.

It is possible that at more localised scales, plantation expansion has been associated with loss of rural population, as the SLA scale is still reasonably large – a single SLA may include a large number of rural properties, only a small number of which will have been established to plantation over a given period.

This is an image of a graph. Figure 20: Area of plantation establishment and average annual rate of change in rural population, 1996-2006.

Figure 20: Area of plantation establishment and average annual rate of change in rural population, 1996-2006

3.2.5 Values, uses and perceptions of forestry activities

Perceptions of the north east Tasmanian population about forestry were not identified for this study, as this would require a survey of the communities within the region, and this type of survey was not possible for this consultancy. It is important to understand how the following are changing over time:

  • Attitudes and values held about different types of forestry - what overall values and attitudes do people hold regarding forestry in general, and acceptability of different forestry practices? How do these differ between people with different characteristics and living in different regions?;
  • Uses of forests – are different people changing the ways they use the forest, for example the types of recreational activities undertaken and access for uses such as firewood collection? Is frequency of use changing? Are the types of people using forests changing over time?; and
  • Perceptions of forestry activities – what are the differing perceptions of forest industry activities and how are these changing over time? This may include examining access to information sources and how these influence perceptions.

5 The data from Schirmer (2008) were not utilised for this report as this report focuses on identifying the usefulness of data collected regularly over time, and the Forest Industry Survey on which Schirmer (2008) is based has to date only been undertaken once, with a repeat survey planned for late 2008.
6 This differs to some other reports – for example, Schirmer (2008) reports employment by place of work. Place of usual residence is a useful measure as it gives an indicator of where forest industry workers live and hence are likely to interact with others in their community, spend a large proportion of their income, and develop a range of social and economic networks.
7 The forest industry is defined as those employed in forestry and logging and wood and paper product manufacturing.
8 Areas which show a higher rate of change typically had fewer forestry workers, with the high rate of change representing a small change in the total number of forestry workers in these municipalities.
9 Note: Where an area had < 20 employees in all time periods, rate of change is not shown, as randomisation of data by the ABS together with small numbers of people employed make the rate of change data potentially meaningless for areas with small numbers of forest industry workers.
10 Note that rate of change is not shown for areas with < 20 employees as these data are likely to be influenced by randomisation of data by the ABS.
11 Data on employment in the plantation and native forest sectors were gathered by asking forestry businesses what proportion of their activities occurred in each sector. Where a business did not provide information, local industry experts were asked their knowledge of (a) which sector a business operated in and (b) the broad size of its overall operations in terms of number of employees. This information was gathered based on the location of the forestry business. ABS data on forest industry employment by place of residence then had to be adjusted to estimate the proportion of employment in each sector. This requires making an estimate based on knowledge of where forest industry workers typically live in relation to the location of their place of employment. Based on Schirmer (2008), it was assumed that a large majority of forestry workers live in the same local government area (LGA) as their place of work, or in a neighbouring LGA, and that relatively few live more than one LGA away from their place of employment. The data in Figure 9 are also based on the wood source used by a business, whether or not that wood was sourced from within the region. Some processors source timber from some distance away, or import a wood-derived product and process it to a further stage. The data should be taken as a broad indication of location of plantation and native forestry employment, rather than a precise estimate.
12 Data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) Forest and Wood Products Statistics series were used to estimate value of forestry production over time, comparing trends in Australia and Tasmania.
13 While data were obtained from some wood and paper product manufacturers within north east Tasmania, almost half did not provide information on volume produced. Because of this, data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) Forest and Wood Products Statistics series were used to estimate volume of forestry production over time, comparing trends in Australia and Tasmania.
14 The indicator is measured by calculating the proportion of the working labour force employed in the forest industry. The data used were sourced from the ABS Census of Population and Housing, based on place of usual residence data. Note that it would also be possible to measure dependence using ‘place of employment’ data, as was done by Schirmer (2008). Dependence was measured based on a person’s place of usual residence here because this reflects where people live, and hence where they are likely to spend a large proportion of their income.
15 If all contractors were included in ABS forestry data, the total dependence on forestry would be higher; For example, ABS data indicate that in Tasmania as a whole, 2.53% of the workforce are employed in forestry, whereas Schirmer (2008) estimated the figure to be 3.08% once all contractors were included in estimates. That said, ABS data are likely to accurately reflect changes over time in forestry employment as data have been measured the same way over time.
16 As previously, the postfix letter ‘C’ refers to ‘city’ while ‘M’ refers to ‘municipality’.
17 It was only possible to measure these data for 2006, as data for earlier years were not able to be accessed from the ABS within the timeframe of the consultancy. The indicator compares areas with differing populations within north east Tasmania, as it was not possible to source comparative data for all of Tasmania or Australia (this would have required obtaining forestry employment data for the entire country).
18 Initially, average annual change in plantation area was calculated. However, this proved to be a poor indicator of rate of change, as some areas which experienced expansion of plantations of only a few hectares over this period experienced a much higher rate of change in plantation area than those which experienced a greater expansion of plantations It is therefore more appropriate to use the area of expansion of plantations, rather than the average annual rate of change, as a measure of plantation expansion. This indicator can only be measured meaningfully at local scale, so includes only SLAs and not larger regions.

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