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Thursday, 15 December 1983
Page: 3939

Question No. 427


Senator Teague asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 12 October 1983:

(1) What is the current area, in hectares, within Australia of both native forests and other native tree plantations capable of being harvested.

(2) Does the rate of harvesting of these trees compare with the Australia-wide programs for replanting and if not, what is being done to ensure that our timber resource is not being eroded more quickly than it can be grown.

(3) What is the current area, in hectares, within Australia of both non-native forests and other non-native plantations capable of being harvested.

(4) Does the rate of harvesting of these trees compare with the Australia-wide programs for replanting and if not, what is being done to ensure that our timber resource is not being eroded more quickly than it can be grown.


Senator Walsh —The Acting Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The area of productive or potentially productive native forest in Australia is currently estimated as 40.8m hectares of which 15 million hectares are managed for wood production. Native tree plantations or Araucaria and Eucalyptus species amount to 85,000 hectares.

(2) Yes. The harvest rate of native forests is currently of the order of 10.5 million cubic metres per annum, indicating a removal rate of 0.7 cubic metres per ha/annum from forests managed for wood production. The current removal rate is lower than the growth rate of native forests. The mean annual increment of managed native forest in Australia which includes reforestation and natural regeneration is in excess of 1 cubic metre per ha/annum. The moist eucalypt forests like alpine-mountain ash and karri show growth rates in excess of 6 cubic metres per ha/annum.

(3) There are no exotic forests in Australia. Exotic plantations mainly of coniferous species amounted to 736,149 hectares as at 31 March 1982.

(4) Yes. The harvesting rate of exotic conifer plantations is currently four million cubic metres per annum anticipated to increase to a capability of about 23 million cubic metres per annum in the year 2020 based on the current annual plantation rate of 36,000 hectares and average growth rate of 16 cubic metres/ha /annum.