Record harvests from Tasmania’s private forests

Log harvests from Tasmania’s private forests are at record highs, with further increases expected. Tasmania’s private forest log harvest is the highest recorded since 1994-95 when Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) began collecting data. Logs from hardwood plantations dominate the harvest, which are expected to increase slightly and then stabilise as the State’s plantation estate matures and reaches a long term sustainable yield. Further increases in the private forest log harvest are possible from native forests.

Tasmania’s private forest estate of 1.03 million hectares is around 30per cent of Tasmania’s reported forest area with 0.84 million hectares of native forest (27.5 per cent) and 0.19 million hectares of plantations (62.5 per cent). Private forests log harvest has recently grown to dominate the Tasmanian log supply. In 2012-13 the private estate, for the first time, provided more than half (58 per cent) of the State’s total log harvest, growing to 67 per cent in 2015-16 and 73 per cent in 2016-17.

The 2016-17 total private forest harvest was well above historic levels, increasing 32 per cent from 2015-16 to 3.89 million tonnes. This followed a large increase of 48.5 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and continues a trend of increasing production from the record low of 2011-12 (1.11 million tonnes). The 2016-17 production levels were 0.71 million tonnes (22 per cent) higher than the previous high in 1999-00 (3.19 million tonnes; see image).

Since 1990-00 the proportion of native forest logs has fallen from dominance to a minor component of the total private log harvest. In 1990-00 native forests supplied 81 per cent of logs harvested from private forests. Historically low volumes of logs have been harvested from private native forests over the last 6 years, hence there is significant potential for increases in the supply of logs from these forests.

The dominance of plantation logs is expected to continue as current harvest levels are maintained or increased into the future. Increased production primarily comes from logs sourced from hardwood plantations, which reached a new high in 2016-17 of 2.46 million tonnes – an increase of 37 per cent from 2015-16. This follows an 89 per cent increase in the previous year.

The supply of logs from softwood plantations also increased in 2016-17, and is likely close to a long term sustainable yield. A large proportion of the Tasmanian private plantation estate is being replanted supporting future harvests.

These data demonstrate the private forest estate’s dominance in the market place and its immense strategic importance to Tasmania’s forest products sector and continued strong contribution to the Tasmanian economy.

Image: Private forests harvest volumes 1994-95 to 2016-17

Source: Private Forests Tasmania

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