Australia - Forestry

Forests and woodlands cover 165.9 million ha (410 million acres), or about 22% of the total land area; most timberland is neither exploited nor potentially exploitable. Native forests cover 43.2 million ha (106.7 million acres), of which 26.6% is state forest, 26.2% is privately owned, 24.5% is crown land, and 22.7% is in permanent national parks or reserves. About 60% of the state forest areas are available for sustainable logging; crown lands are mostly leased for cattle grazing with limited timber production. Native forests consist principally of hardwood and other fine cabinet and veneer timbers; eucalyptus dominates about 35 million ha (86.5 million acres). Limited softwood resources had become seriously depleted, but new plantations were established in the 1980s at a rate of 33,000 ha (81,500 acres) annually. Softwood plantations supply more than half the timber harvested annually. Plantation forests are 77% publicly owned and cover 1,484,740 ha (3,668,792 acres), of which 65% is softwood. Although Australia is a net importer of forest products, the forest and wood products industries contribute 2% to GDP.

Roundwood production in 2000 totaled about 30.5 million cu m (1.08 billion cu ft), with exports of 969,000 cu m (34.2 million cu ft). There was a 3% increase in roundwood production in 2000–01. Some 12.9 million metric tons of forest products were produced in 2001. Australia's leading forest products are softwood logs and chips. Whereas all of the softwood log production is consumed at home, all commercial woodchip production is exported. National parks and wildlife preserves occupy about 3.8 million ha (9.4 million acres), or 9% of the total forestlands. Extensive reforestation—62,000 ha (153,000 acres) annually during the 1980s—has been undertaken to combat soil erosion. Since hardwoods grow slowly, Australia will probably have to import a great deal of lumber in future years to meet its timber needs.

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