The forestry industry creates around 6,000 jobs in Western Australia, with more than 60 per cent of those in the South West.
The industry is worth approximately $766 million to the region each year.
The Forest Products Commission is responsible for the sustainable management and development of Western Australia’s forest products industry, using plantation, sandalwood and native forest products on land owned or leased by the State.
The FPC’s forest regeneration and timber production operations occur throughout WA’s South West region. Harvesting for wood products occurs in patches, referred to as coupes, on a rotational basis. This includes thinning operations which promotes healthier forests and reduces fire hazard. Less than 1 per cent of WA’s total natural forest area is available for harvest each year.
These jobs include the sustainable harvesting of forests and plantations as well as timber processing and the creation of products on the cutting edge of timber technology, like engineered timber.
The industry also promotes multiple-use forestry.
The harvesting of native jarrah and karri hardwoods was one of the first major industries in the South West. In days-gone-by a network of railway lines linked the region’s many small timber mills to the Busselton Jetty, where our native timber was loaded onto tall ships headed for the far corners of the globe.
The introduction of the Regional Forest Agreement has resulted in plantation timber taking over from the logging of native hardwoods as the major source of timber production.
The future of hardwood timber processing is now focused on value adding. Hardwood products are sent to the eastern states of Australia and exported overseas.
Further opportunities may exist in fibreboard industries, farm forestry, planting of specialist timbers, processing of waste wood for energy production, and fine wood furniture and crafts.
Woodchips were first exported from the region in the 1970s to supply paper pulp manufacturers.
Large scale bluegum plantations are now supplying woodchips to markets in Japan.
One of the largest integrated softwood milling and processing plants in Australia is located in Dardanup. The complex produces sawn pine timber and a range of reconstituted wood-based panels, including melamine faced panels, structural flooring and wet and dry flooring.
Particle board produced at the mill is used in Western Australia’s construction and furniture making industries with the remainder going to the eastern states of Australia and Asian markets.