Despite feeling the impacts of COVID-19, Western Australia’s forest industry has weathered the economic downturn well with many green shoots emerging.
The continued weakness in the housing market has affected confidence within the sector, but we are seeing signs of an increase in demand following the release of the Federal and State Government’s home building grants.
The impact of COVID-19 will be an ongoing challenge beyond the pandemic, but the forest industry is a key regional employer and will play a crucial role in Western Australia’s economic recovery.
There are also many reasons for optimism in the industry. Before the pandemic, the strength of the Western Australian forest industry was highlighted with the entry of Parkside Timber. Their purchase of native timber mills in Nannup and Manjimup will help to drive regional employment
and economic diversity post COVID-19. Other processors are investing in new equipment providing for the opportunity to increase local processing, value creation and employment.
An important pillar for the future of our industry is the management of our native forests for a drying climate. The Forest Products Commission’s (FPC) implementation of increased thinning programs helps reduce competition within the forest for water, nutrients and light, helping make our forests more resilient and prepare them for the climate of the future.
Our softwood expansion program successfully acquired 950 hectares of plantable land over the last financial year and FPC Farm Forestry Assist grants awarded to landowners choosing to grow pine are expected to contribute another 52 hectares to the softwood estate.
We continued to increase Aboriginal involvement in the forest industry, providing opportunities for Traditional Owners in all aspects of the sandalwood and softwood supply chain. I would like to thank my fellow commissioners and the Minister for Forestry, the Hon. Dave Kelly MLA, for their support during the last year.
Mr Ross Holt | Chair
15 September 2020