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Australian forest report card: plantations and reserves growing.



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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Australian forest report card: plantations and reserves growing 21 May 2008 DAFF08/063B

A new report card shows Australia’s forest plantations now produce two-thirds of the nation’s log supply and our forests and plantations offset around 9% of our greenhouse emissions.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke released the five-yearly Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2008 at a timber mill in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland.

The report is a comprehensive snapshot of Australia’s forests, from the tall forests and plantations of Gippsland to the open forests and woodlands of northern and interior Australia.

Key findings include:

• Australia’s plantation estate grew by 12% in the last five years and now produces two-thirds of the nation’s log supply;

• Forestry and forest products industries are now worth $19 billion annually (a real increase of 10%) and support more than 120,000 direct jobs;

• Other forest-related industries underpin rural and regional economies, including honey production, ecotourism and handicrafts; and

• Since 2003, the area of Australia’s native forest in formal conservation reserves grew by almost 1.5 million hectares to 23 million hectares, with additional areas set aside through informal reserves.

Mr Burke said regions such as Gippsland would be critical to a vibrant future for Australia’s forestry industry.

“Victoria’s forestry industry generates around $3 billion annually - or around 37% of our national timber industry - and accounts for almost 30% of our total wood exports,” Mr Burke said.

“The greater Gippsland region is critical, harvesting more than 1 million cubic metres of sawlogs, pulpwood and other logs each year and supporting more than 3,000 jobs for the region.

“At the same time, we still have a $2 billion trade deficit in the trade of timber and forest products. The Rudd Government is committed to working with the forestry industry to boost global competitiveness and value-adding.”

The 2008-09 Federal Budget delivered on a number of forestry commitments including:

• $20 million committed over three years to assist our forestry industries to prepare for the future;

• $9 million to boost the export of forest products by encouraging value-adding initiatives;

• $1 million to underpin industry-based education and training, through the creation of the new Forest and Forest Products Industry Skills Council; and

• $1 million to restrict the importation of illegally-logged timber through certification schemes, point-of-sale disclosure and other initiatives.

The Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2008 is available at www.daff.gov.au/forestsaustralia .