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Annual Timber Harvest

Since 1994-95, PFT has annually collected and collated quantitative data on the private estate harvest in order to track the contribution that the private forest estate makes to the supply of conventional forest products to the Tasmanian forestry sector.  Summarised data is made available to government and other stakeholders and is an important reflection of the contribution the private estate makes to employment and wealth generation throughout regional Tasmania and the State as a whole.

Annual Timber Harvest

Since 1994-95, PFT has annually collected and collated quantitative data on the private estate harvest in order to track the contribution that the private forest estate makes to the supply of conventional forest products to the Tasmanian forestry sector.  Summarised data is made available to government and other stakeholders and is an important reflection of the contribution the private estate makes to employment and wealth generation throughout regional Tasmania and the State as a whole.

The collection of this information is entirely dependent on the co-operation and goodwill of others - in this case the many forest products processors throughout the State who willingly participate by providing PFT with sourcing information for their forest products intake.  PFT acknowledges the participation of these processors and is proud of the relationship of trust that has been developed between us and the many companies and individuals involved.  Importantly, the processors provide this information to PFT on the understanding that the raw data will be aggregated for reporting purposes and that the confidentiality of each individual processor’s data will be strictly maintained.  It is important to remember that the provision of the data is on a voluntary basis and while PFT cannot control the accuracy of it steps are taken to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

Of the 67 individual forest products processing businesses throughout the State contacted this year, 57 responded to the request for data on log products harvested from private forests that were delivered to their mills.  The ten that did not respond are very small operators and any private forest harvest they may have processed is considered to have no real effect on the overall results.  Thirty five of the responding processors reported that they did not receive logs from private forests during 2013-14 with another eight reporting that they closed during the year.  This continues a long term trend, bringing the total to 28 primary wood processors that PFT is aware of ceasing operation in the last six years.
The four largest volume businesses processed almost 90% of Tasmania’s private forest harvest during 2013-14.  When the next four are included, the proportion is over 99%.

Wood Production Statistics

In 2012-13 we witnessed a levelling off of the precipitous decline in Tasmania’s total private wood harvest that commenced in 2008-09, resulting primarily from an increase in hardwood plantation harvest (see Table 2 and Figure 1).  While preparing last year’s annual report during September 2013 we noted that increased export wood chip vessel loading was being observed and speculated that a significant turnaround may have commenced.  That increased activity continued through the balance of 2013-14 and the total private forest harvest increased 34% from the prior year to close at 1.94 million tonnes.  The total private harvest has now returned to the levels last seen in the mid 1990s, although compared to then it now includes around 600,000 additional tonnes from the privatisation of the ex-Forestry Tasmania pine estate.

Native Forests

From a very low base private native forest harvest increased around 16% to around 90 thousand tonnes.  An almost halving of sawlog volume was offset by a 20 thousand tonne increase on pulpwood volumes.  The 2013-14 total is still a miniscule volume when compared to the record 2.6 million tonnes in 1999-2000.

Hardwood Plantations

From 1999 to 2008 the harvest from private hardwood plantations steadily increased, roughly in line with the rate at which the associated new plantings had been increasing twelve to sixteen years earlier.  However, harvest volumes declined significantly after 2008, bottoming out in 2013, even though the rate at which the new private hardwood plantations had been established had continued to increase significantly.  We believe this has now created a backlog of wood that was ready for harvest but has been held on the stump.

The 2013 harvest was so low that it was comparable with the first few years of Tasmanian hardwood plantation harvest (1999 and 2000) of around 0.2 million tonnes.  We are now pleased to report, however, that hardwood plantation harvest volumes recovered significantly in 2013-14, increasing 270% from 0.22 million tonnes to 0.82 million tonnes.  All but 300 tonnes was export pulpwood, either as chip or log.

Softwood Plantations

The private softwood harvest decreased around 0.1 million tonnes from the year before to 1.0 million tonnes in 2013-14.  This is the second year the private softwood harvest data includes the fully privatised ex-Forestry Tasmania pine estate and there may still be some residual allocation errors when processors report their private wood inputs.

Contribution to Overall Tasmanian Forestry Production

Production statistics for the state-owned forests (provided by Forestry Tasmania) have been combined with the private estate figures detailed above.  In 2012-13 the private estate contributed more than half of the State’s total wood harvest (58.5%) for the first time.  That proportion barely changed for the 2013-14 year (58.4%).  This may be heralding a new era in Tasmanian forestry - one in which the private, rather than the public, estate is the dominant wood supplier.
Over the last 20 years we have witnessed a profound change in the type of Tasmanian private forest being harvested (Figure 2), largely driven by the expansion of the private plantation estate that commenced in the 1980s.  This has led to the proportion of wood harvested from private native forests diminishing and that from plantations steadily increasing.  By 2005-06 the plantation harvest exceeded the native forest harvest for the first time and we have now reached a point where the native forest harvest share has dropped to less than 5%.

As the plantation proportion increased during those two decades, the proportion of the harvest by industrial growers has also increased and that from non-industrial wood owners (e.g.  farmers) has decreased, reflecting their respective holdings in plantations and native forests.

It is also worthy of note that very little of the increase in plantation wood harvested to date has been as a result of plantings established under Managed Investment Schemes, the majority of which are yet to reach harvest age.

Table 2:  Private forest harvest volumes 2009-10 to 2013-14 (tonnes)

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

NATIVE HARDWOOD

     

Native Sawlog, Veneer & Ply

54,067

54,133

28,894

21,110

12,355

Hardwood Pulpwood

537,740

426,650

105,064

57,202

76,632

Minor Log Products

1,250

321

84

36

55

Fuel Wood

1,170

800

4,812

1,325

1,486

Total NF including fuel wood

594,227

481,904

138,854

79,674

90,529

Total NF excluding fuel wood

593,057

481,104

134,042

78,349

89,043

PLANTATION HARDWOOD

     

Hardwood, Sawlog, Veneer & Ply

3,712

4,514

364

1,264

0

Hardwood Pulpwood

807,411

741,124

252,657

220,790

820,228

Minor Log Products

0

181

1,500

0

0

Fuel Wood

0

0

0

0

300

Total HW including fuel wood

811,123

745,819

254,520

222,054

820,528

Total HW excluding fuel wood

811,123

745,819

254,520

222,054

820,228

PLANTATION SOFTWOOD

     

Softwood Sawlog, Veneer & Ply

64,991

125,495

384,601

547,909

522,689

Pulpwood

230,646

268,655

327,972

585,133

507,108

Minor Log Products

339

901

2,968

10,179

2,156

Fuel Wood

2,320

0

40

1,212

1,724

Total SW including fuel wood

298,296

395,051

715,581

1,144,433

1,033,677

Total SW excluding fuel wood

295,976

395,051

715,541

1,143,221

1,031,953

      

GRAND TOTAL including fuel wood

1,703,646

1,622,774

1,108,955

1,446,161

1,944,734

GRAND TOTAL excluding fuel wood

1,700,156

1,621,974

1,104,103

1,443,624

1,941,224

Figure 1: Private forests harvest volumes 1994-95 to 2013-14 (including fuel wood)

Figure 2:  Native forest and plantation (softwood and hardwood) harvest from private forests 1994-95 to 2013-14