Australia is home to 134 million hectares of forests covering approximately 17% of the land area, and storing an estimated 10.5 billion tonnes of carbon, with 98.8% held in native forests.

Of the 132 million hectares of native forest primarily dominated by hardwood species, 2 million are plantation, while 5 million hectares – 3.7% – are accessible for timber harvesting. Each year, a nominal 78,000 hectares are carefully harvested, representing just 6 in every 10,000 trees, with the selective harvesting occurring exclusively in approved areas and followed by meticulous regeneration efforts, often involving replanting native species in much higher numbers than was removed.

The Australasian Timber and Flooring Association (ATFA) says it is actively addressing the complex challenges posed by the timber harvesting dilemma across multiple fronts in Victoria (VIC) and New South Wales (NSW), following the permanent closure of forestry operations in VIC, and the suspension of forestry operations in NSW to establish 106 Koala Parks.

ATFA also says it has been clarifying aspects such as wildlife protection, carbon sequestration, and the sustainability of timber products, particularly their ability to store carbon throughout their lifespan.

With careful canopy management and forest renewal practices, younger trees thrive, contributing to healthy microclimates and stronger habitats, it notes.

Timber harvesting

Australia’s native timber industry contributes significantly to the economy, generating $2.9 billion in gross revenue in NSW alone, while promoting job creation, supporting regional communities and bolstering Australian sovereignty in timber supply. Native timber harvesting plays a pivotal role in Australia's sustainable forestry practices, effectively harmonising economic development with environmental preservation.

Considering the multifaceted dimensions of the issue, ATFA has gone on the record saying that "only a balanced approach can safeguard both our environment and the livelihoods of many Australians dependent on this industry."

Over the next four years, both Federal and State Governments are allocating over $300 million to support the country's forest industries.

ATFA claims it's initiatives "inspire innovation in these diverse sectors, fostering a harmonious balance between economic growth and ecological responsibility, while setting new benchmarks in eco-conscious design, and helping shape a sustainable future, where the choices made today resonate positively across industries and generations."