Industry & Environment
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, environment, 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 sustainable environmental importance.
The industry is a big employer
In 2013-2014, the turnover of Australia's forest product industries was more than $20 billion, or 5.2% of our total manufacturing output. The sector employs more than 70,500 people (Source: Australian Forests at a Glance 2015, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2015) 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!
Australian forest facts
Most people don't realise how extensive Australian forests are. Australian forests are an important part of our environment, comprising 16% of Australia's land area and storing over 12 billion tonnes of carbon
|Total Land Area||769.2 million hectares|
|Total Forest Area||124.7 million hectares|
|Forest as a Proportion of Land||
|Native Forest Area||122.6 million hectares|
|Forest Area in Nature Conservation Reserves||21.5 million hectares|
|Public Native Forests where Timber Production is Permitted (gross area)||7.5 million hectares|
|Total Carbon stored in Forests||12,841 million tonnes|
|Plantation Forest Area||2 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 2014 Australia's wood and wood products exports were valued at $2.5 billion with imports worth $4.6 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.
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. These two schemes are Australian Forest Certification Scheme and Forest Stewardship Council.
The total area of certified native forests and industrial plantations in Australia is approximately 10.5 million hectares. This includes most public native forests managed wood production.
A natural part of our environment, wood is a renewable resource that provides wide-ranging benefits – from habitat, employment and recreational activities to tackling climate change – and by working in the industry you can make a positive contribution to our environment.
How wood tackles climate change
Forests and wood products can help reduce the impact of climate change in several ways. Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon so efficiently that about half the dry weight of a tree is carbon. This carbon remains locked up in the wood even when we use it for building products, furniture or paper.
Using wood products instead of other materials can be an advantage too. The production of wood products uses less energy (usually sourced from finite fossil fuels) compared with most other building materials.
As a fuel, sustainably grown and harvested wood (and other biomass) can also provide a renewable alternative to finite fossil fuels.
A sustainably managed resource
Australia's forest management is among the best in the world in terms of conservation reserves and codes of practice for production forests. Only 6% of Australia’s 147 million hectares of native forests is public forest potentially available for timber harvesting. Timber is harvested from about 1% of these public native forests each year.
Regional Forest Agreements – protecting our heritage
The conservation and sustainable management of Australia's native forests are covered by 20 year plans known as Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). Ten RFAs cover four States: Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.
RFA’s are the result of years of scientific study, consultation and negotiation covering a wide range of interests.
You can find comprehensive information about RFA’s at the RFA website, co-hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
For more information visit Wood.Naturally Better