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Posted November 14, 2018 09:47:58The Australian timber industries’ demise is being accelerated by climate change.
The country’s biggest and most productive forests are dying off at a rate of one a year.
But with timber imports up by around 20 per cent over the past decade, some of the country’s largest companies are now looking overseas for cheaper labour.
The timber industry has traditionally relied on high labour costs.
But a combination of rising costs and the loss of timber processing and packing companies are threatening the industry’s survival.
The latest Australian Institute of Timber Industries (AITI) report finds Australia’s timber industry faces a “near-certain death” as climate change threatens the industry with a rapid decline in output.
“We are witnessing an accelerated decline in our forests,” said Greg Thompson, director of forestry and timber industries for the AITI.
“This is not a trend we can continue to sustain,” he said.
“The fact that the industry has been in a decline for so long, is quite astonishing.”
The AITi is a federal agency funded by the Federal Government and the state of Victoria to advise the Government on forestry issues.
It produced the report to coincide with the release of a study on the impact of climate change on the timber industry by the University of Western Australia and the University.
“It’s quite extraordinary that we are witnessing a rapid and dramatic decline in Australia’s forestry industry,” Mr Thompson said.
The report says climate change is “likely to be a major driver” of the industry being unable to meet demand for its products.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty around the future, and there are also questions around how much longer this decline will last,” Mr Brown said.”[But] the fact that we’re in this situation is quite significant.”
I think the decline in Australian timber is likely to be at least 30 per cent by 2040.
“At the same time we have a significant decline in the value of the timber product itself.”
He said a lack of knowledge about the environmental impacts of logging was one of the biggest barriers to logging.
“When you’re building the supply chain, there’s an assumption that the timber will be green, it’s going to be carbon neutral and there’s going be some amount of forest management,” Mr Smith said.
However, some experts say it is more likely to have a negative impact on the forestry industry’s ability to supply markets.
“If you look at what’s happening with the price of timber, that’s certainly an area of concern,” Mr Johnson said.