Australia’s Forest and Wood Products Industry

Making a difference
The Australian forest and wood products industry is one of Australia’s largest and most diverse industries, providing a broad array of career opportunities in areas including science, research, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, trades and sales to name a few.

The industry provides Australia with a wide range of essential materials – from the wood used to build houses and furniture to the paper we print on.  Many of the people who work with wood – from carpenters and builders to joiners, cabinetmakers, and those in the forestry and timber processing industries – share a love of the material and its importance to humanity.

The industry is a big employer
In 2007-2008, the turnover of Australia’s forest product industries was more than $21 billion, or 6.7% of our total manufacturing output. The sector employs more than 120,000 people (Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2009) so whatever your skill or level of expertise you’re likely to find an interesting and exciting career.

Where people are working in forest and wood products
The latest analysis of jobs in the industry shows the huge range of careers working in the industry.

Within each sector there are people working in many different roles - from plant operators and tradespeople to technicians, managers, salespeople, scientists and more. Whatever career you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it in more than one sector of the forest and wood products industry!


Forest Growing & Wood Product Employment Chart

Source: based on Forestworks Ltd data, 2006

Australian forest facts
Most people don’t realise how extensive Australian forests are – they’re an important part of our environment, comprising nearly 20% of Australia’s land area and storing nearly 12 billion tonnes of carbon

Total Land Area 769.2 million hectares
Total Forest Area 149.4 million hectares
Forest as a Proportion of Land


Native Forest Area 147.4 million hectares
Forest Area in Nature Conservation Reserves 23.0  million hectares

Public Native Forests where Timber Production is Permitted (gross area) 9.4  million hectares
Total Carbon stored in Forests >12 billion tonnes

Plantation Forest Area 2.0  million hectares


Imports and Exports
In the forest and wood products sector, as in all industries, global trade is important for our national prosperity. In 2009 Australia’s wood and wood products exports were valued at $2.3 billion with imports worth $4.4 billion.  The majority of wood and wood products imported into Australia are those that we cannot produce at all, or in volumes sufficient to meet local demand. 

Both imports and exports create employment opportunities in areas ranging from processing and manufacturing to logistics and sales.


Industry Imports 2009

Industry Exports 2009

Source: Australian forest and wood products statistics, ABARE


Ensuring responsibly sourced timber
In some parts of the world timber is harvested in an unsustainable way, often through a process referred to as ‘illegal logging’. This can have negative effects on communities and the environment.

The Australian Government and the wood products industry have committed to work with regional governments and industry to reduce the effect of illegal logging through a range of activities, including:

  • Preventing illegal timber harvesting
  • Developing and supporting certification schemes for timber and timber products sold in Australia