Goal 2: Facilitate a vibrant forestry industry to deliver social and economic benefits, particularly in regional Western Australia

The forestry industry injects more than $1.4 billion into the WA economy annually. Softwood 5,951 ha harvested 79,631 ha total estate 775,803 t of log products, native hardwood 7,424 ha harvested 850,000 ha total accessible area 552,160t of log products, sandalwood 14,409 ha harvested spread across 14 million ha 1,993t of log products

“We contribute to vibrant and economically diverse regions; the forestry industry has plans for the future of a sustainable industry at national, State and regional levels.”

Meet softwood plantation expansion targets (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

The softwood plantation expansion target for 2017-2018 was 1,500 hectares. 

The actual area achieved was 1,836 hectares of established plantation. We were able to achieve above our expansion target because of additional land purchased in the previous financial year. 

During 2017-2018, a further area of about 330 hectares was acquired from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and prepared for pine plantation establishment.

Our plantation expansion program was partly offset by a reduction in plantation land in Myalup surrendered to provide sand vital for the Western Australian building industry.

Softwood plantations

We are focused on expanding softwood plantations because they are a significant component of Western Australia’s forestry industry, providing jobs for the community across a number of regions and producing the basic building materials used in Western Australian house construction.

In recent years, Western Australia’s softwood estate has decreased in size because of the State Government’s strategic exit of plantations in the Gnangara area, as well as losses caused by drought, fire, and competing land uses. 

To address this decline, the Softwood Industry Strategy for Western Australia was released in September 2016 and included an investment of $21 million over five years to expand the softwood estate and to help ensure the long-term future of the industry. Since the strategy was released we have expanded the softwood estate by about 1,650 hectares. 

Our plantation establishment program in 2017-2018 resulted in the planting of approximately four million seedlings, including second rotation establishment and new plantings in the Wellington catchment. The plantings in the catchment are aimed at improving the water quality in Wellington dam and expanding the softwood estate.

Sandalwood plantations

Our sandalwood plantation estate stretches as far north as Geraldton and as far as Esperance to the east

The sandalwood plantation estate we manage is about 6,000 hectares and is located as far north as Geraldton and as far as Esperance to the east. 

Over the past year, we have worked with the Australian Sandalwood Network to develop a new Sandalwood Plantation Establishment Guide. 

This guide is based on 30 years’ plantation research and experience and provides advice on how to grow plantation sandalwood in Western Australia.

We have continued to investigate the valuable aromatic oils in sandalwood plantation trees and published a paper in the Australian Forestry journal on oil variation. This ongoing research also saw us take part in a joint study with Edith Cowan University which investigated whether oils can be induced in young sandalwood trees using different treatments.

We have also focused on working with farmers, the sandalwood industry and universities to increase our understanding of plantation sandalwood establishment, management, oil development, the marketing of the wood, efficient seed-harvesting methods and the use of sandalwood seeds in a range of commercial products.

Photo: Our sandalwood plantation estate stretches as far north as Geraldton and as far as Esperance to the east.


Sandalwood industry reforms (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

There has been promising progress in the development of new markets for sandalwood nuts.  

Both the oil and the shells can be used in a range of food, pharmaceutical and health care products. 

The cost-effective collection of sandalwood nuts is critical to the further development of these new markets and the FPC has facilitated trials for the use of a mechanised nut harvester in its sandalwood plantations.

Wild Western Australian sandalwood

Sandalwood regeneration remains a key focus of the FPC to help ensure the long-term future of the State's sandalwood industry

Increasing Aboriginal participation in Western Australia’s 174-year-old sandalwood industry continued to be a key focus during the year.

We created a position focused on Aboriginal heritage management and to date, the role has been improving our capacity to engage with Aboriginal people and increase participation in the sandalwood industry.

During the year, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils (DSO), a partnership between indigenous Dutjahn Custodians and WA Sandalwood Plantations, completed construction of its oil distillation facility in Kalgoorlie and began receiving its first sandalwood. 

The company is now producing oil from the recently constructed distillery. We are optimistic that the arrangement will be the foundation for the development of further sandalwood-based industries in the region.

In 2017-2018, we continued working with the DBCA, harvesting contractors and the local community to increase Aboriginal participation in the industry. 

We have engaged the Goldfields Land and Sea Council (GLSC) to provide sandalwood harvesting and regeneration services. We provided training to GLSC rangers and this led to the hand-seeding of around 390 kilograms of sandalwood seed in the Rangelands. This contract complements other land management works undertaken by the rangers.

The theft of wild sandalwood remains a significant threat to the sustainability of the wild Western Australian sandalwood industry. To address this, we continued to fund an additional compliance position at the DBCA and to date, it is achieving results. In March, there was a successful conviction which saw a two-year jail sentence handed down for the theft of sandalwood.

Photo: Sandalwood regeneration remains a key focus of the FPC to help ensure the long-term future of the State’s sandalwood industry.


Native forest

Innovation is the key to the long-term future of native forestry and to stimulate growth, we collaborated with industry to encourage the adoption of new technologies to increase utilisation and industry’s processing capacity.

In 2017-2018, we maintained support to Auswest Timbers during the commissioning phase of their new log line sawmill which was completed in January 2018. This included working with our harvesting contractors to deliver the specification range of logs suitable for processing at the facility. 

We completed trials of infield processing of regrowth trees from karri first thinning operations. By harvesting whole trees and processing them in the field we reduced the amount of residue left in the forest which has reduced fuel loads and improved volume recovery. Traditional methods involved cutting logs to length in the forest to facilitate log transport.  

The FPC supported the use of native timbers in the manufacture of laminated veneer lumber and engineered timber products. Improved recovery of these products from harvesting enhanced the social, economic and environmental value of production.

In addition to the ongoing harvesting in fire damaged karri forest, we began recovering jarrah which was damaged in the Yarloop bushfire. The trees were harvested for the domestic firewood market and a small-scale bioenergy trial. The revenue raised will be used to rehabilitate and regenerate the area. The trial will be assessed by the DBCA.

Branding and marketing in place for high-value native timbers (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

We have worked with the State’s native timber industry to develop a new brand for Western Australia’s premium hardwoods.

This has involved extensive collaboration with industry from across the supply chain - including architects, mill owners and furniture makers - and the project is due to be launched in 
late 2018.

The brand will reposition jarrah as a high-quality, desirable product and the messaging will target builders and architects.


Native forest timber supply chain study (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

The Australian Forest Operations Research Alliance was commissioned to undertake a study on the native forest timber supply chain, starting with timber harvesting.

The study seeks to identify factors impacting productivity and costs of production of harvesting systems in jarrah forest operations in March 2017. It is expected to be finalised late in 2018.

Other bole volume markets identified (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

Other bole volume is a by-product of forestry and silvicultural operations

Other bole volume, otherwise known as residue, is a by-product of forestry operations that primarily produce high-value products or silvicultural operations where some trees, or parts of trees, are not suitable for use in structural or decorative applications. 

This residue can be used in traditional markets such as the manufacture of silicon, paper, laminated veneer lumber, or engineered timbers for building and construction, and for the production of renewable energy.

In 2017-2018, we commenced a project to look at new markets suitable for residue from our native forest timbers. In November 2017 we ran an Expression of Interest process to seek market interest in developing an integrated log merchandising yard with new technology and processing facilities to create veneers from jarrah and karri timbers. 

We also continued to investigate opportunities to develop a renewable bioenergy market in Western Australia based on residue. The use of residue has the potential to assist in the transition to a low-carbon future and reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. 

This included a small-scale trial to explore the opportunity to recover residue from mining operations and fire-damaged areas for the generation of renewable bioenergy facilitated by the possibility of accessing Large Scale Generation Certificates under the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Act. This trial recovered residue which was not suitable for high-value products and would have otherwise been burnt on site by the mining companies during prescribed burning.

Photo: Other bole volume is a by-product of forestry and silvicultural operations.  

Better understanding of economic and social values for communities (SCI 2017-2018 initiative)

We contributed to the Forest and Wood Products Australia comprehensive study to measure the economic and social values of the forestry industry for communities. 

The report shows that Western Australian forestry is a rich and diverse industry with native forest and plantations sectors supporting the employment of more than 6,000 people and generating more than $1.4 billion for the economy. Forestry provides employment across the supply chain and the report found that the majority of forestry industry jobs are generated in the processing sector, which highlights the importance of local processing.

It also found that forestry is able to co-exist with other industries such as tourism and contributes to economic diversity in many communities. This economic diversity is key to ensuring regional communities remain strong when other industries are experiencing challenges.


Community and stakeholder engagement

The Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival used the grant to promote the value of the forestry industry.  Photo credit: Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival.

During 2017-2018, we maintained our strong focus on collaborative and meaningful engagement with our stakeholders while also improving how we engage with the community.

In the South West we are a signatory to the Noongar Standard Heritage Agreements and actively engage with the Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement Working Group. 

The FPC Community Support Program awarded grants of up to $2,000 to 13 community groups and the successful projects were chosen based on their connection with the State’s forestry industry and a capacity to benefit community.

We have also supported and attended a number of regional events this year including the Cape to Cape MTB, Mountain Bike Australia National XCO – Pemberton, Karri Cup MTB Challenge, Pemby Trail Fest and SEVEN. Our presence at these events has provided us with an excellent and positive platform to engage with the community.

We engaged extensively with a range of stakeholders on the Karri Forest Management Plan and environmental, community and industry groups were consulted on issues such as identification of old-growth forest, industry development, and operational practices.  

We engaged with shires, industry representatives, timber traders, architects and builders on industry trends in timber usage.

We consulted with industry groups such as the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia, the Australian Forest Products Association, Forest and Wood Products Australia, the South West Agroforestry Network, and the Australian Sandalwood Network on issues affecting the long-term future of the State’s timber industry.

Photo: The Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival used the grant to promote the value of the forestry industry. 
Credit: Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival.