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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Forestry and Fishing >> Forest estate

Native forest

A forest is defined by Australia’s National Forest Inventory (NFI) as “an area, incorporating all living and non-living components, dominated by trees having usually a single stem and a mature or potentially mature stand height exceeding two metres, and with an existing or potential crown cover of overstorey strata about equal to or greater than 20%”. This definition includes Australia’s diverse native forests, regardless of age. It is also sufficiently broad to encompass areas of trees that are sometimes described as woodlands.

Based on this definition, the total area of native forest as at 30 June 2001 is estimated at 164.4 million hectares (ha.), which is about 21% of Australia’s land area. Of this area, 124.4 million ha. (76%) were on public land and 37.3 million ha. (23%) were on private land (National Forest Inventory, 2001 (in publ.)).

Of the publicly owned forests, 20.4 million ha. (16%) were in Nature Conservation Reserves, 11.9 million ha (10%) were managed by State forest authorities for multiple uses including wood production, recreation and informal reserves, 17.7 million ha. (14%) were on other Crown land and 74.5 million ha. (60%) were on leasehold tenure. Taking forested leasehold land together with private freehold forest, some 111.8 million ha., or 68% of Australia’s forests, were under private management. Differences between these figures and previously published area statements are largely due to recent improvements in forest mapping which have generated more accurate figures. This is particularly the case in South Australia.


17.1 NATIVE FOREST AREAS, By Dominant Canopy and Tenure - 30 June 2001

NSW

’000
ha.
Vic.

’000
ha.
Qld

’000
ha.
SA

’000
ha.
WA

’000
ha.
Tas.

’000
ha.
NT

’000
ha.
ACT

’000
ha.
Aust.

’000
ha.

CLASSIFIED BY DOMINANT CANOPY SPECIES

Eucalypt
Tall
3,853
2,396
1,073
1
171
1,115
-
29
8,638
Medium
17,423
3,483
28,790
625
20,815
1,266
22,117
84
94,602
Low
186
434
1,789
1,206
3,431
62
6,724
8
13,840
Mallee
23
1,045
127
6,110
4,973
-
-
-
12,277
Total eucalypt
21,485
7,358
31,778
7,942
29,390
2,443
28,841
121
129,357
Acacia
1,235
63
7,127
1,826
3,986
73
3,513
-
17,823
Melaleuca
45
90
2,094
1
155
1
1,708
-
4,092
Rainforest
489
16
2,926
-
7
597
318
-
4,353
Casuarina
734
4
140
728
40
1
-
-
1,648
Mangrove
3
3
154
20
173
-
445
-
798
Callitris
1,206
50
387
248
-
1
-
-
1,893
Other
413
132
1,622
23
1,048
19
55
-
3,313
Total(a)
25,610
7,716
46,228
10,789
34,800
3,135
34,879
121
163,277

CLASSIFIED BY TENURE

Public
Multiple Use Forest(b)
1,797
3,308
3,884
22
1,612
1,295
-
2
11,920
Nature Conservation Reserve(c)
4,899
3,006
3,225
3,933
4,364
770
46
108
20,350
Other Crown Land(d)
1,801
175
1,682
356
13,206
168
332
-
17,721
Leasehold(e)
9,144
43
28,199
5,227
14,025
-
17,804
11
74,454
Total public
17,641
6,532
36,990
9,538
33,207
2,233
18,182
121
124,445
Private
6,985
1,183
9,182
852
1,502
901
16,694
-
37,300
Unresolved tenure
2,117
1
54
399
90
-
3
-
2,664
Total(a)
26,742
7,716
46,228
10,789
34,800
3,135
34,879
121
164,409

(a) June 1997 tenure figures are the most recently available for NSW. This accounts for differences in tenure and forest type totals for NSW and hence for Australia.
(b) Publicly owned land managed for multiple use including wood production.
(c) Public land on which wood production is excluded (National Parks, etc.).
(d) Reserved areas of educational, scientific and other public institutional land, including easements, defence land, and other minor tenure classifications.
(e) Crown land where the right to harvest or clear land must be approved by State/Territory Governments. Often known as pastoral leases.

Source: Bureau of Rural Sciences, National Forest Inventory 2001.

17.2 PLANTATION AREAS, Classified by Species Type - 30 September 2000

NSW

’000
ha.
Vic.

’000
ha.
Qld

’000
ha.
SA

’000
ha.
WA

’000
ha.
Tas.

’000
ha.
NT

’000
ha.
ACT

’000
ha.
Aust.

’000
ha.

Hardwood
45
101
9
21
215
110
2
-
503
Softwood
271
215
179
114
98
76
5
15
972
Mixed(a)
3
2
3
1
-
-
-
-
9
Unknown
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
Total
319
319
191
136
314
185
7
15
1,485

(a) Includes 4% of mixed hardwood and softwood plantings and 96% of mixed hardwood species in either block or integrated plantings.

Source: Bureau of Rural Sciences, National Plantation Inventory 2001.

Plantations

The combined standing planted forest resource in Australia was 1.5 million hectares planted to September 2000 (table 17.2). Of this total, farm forestry contributed 5% or 67,000 hectares, and the remaining 1.4 million hectares were owned or managed by larger commercial growers who contributed to the National Plantation Inventory (NPI). Farm Forestry data are provided, through a separate process, to the National Farm Forest Inventory (NFFI).

Of the 1.4 million ha. of industrial plantations planted to September 2000, softwood plantations, which are dominated by the exotic species Pinus radiata, contributed 67% (948,000 ha.). Hardwood plantations, which are almost all native Eucalyptus species, mainly the Eucalyptus globulos variety, contributed 33% (469,000 ha.). Since 1995 there has been an overall increase in the standing estate of almost 40% (375,000 ha.).

Since 1990 the plantation sector has undergone a shift from predominantly planting softwood to now predominantly planting hardwood. Hardwood establishment of nearly 144,000 ha. for the year 2000 alone was more than one and a half times higher than in 1999. In total, 87% of the 469,000 ha. of standing hardwood plantation has been planted since 1990.

A diverse range of ownership arrangements existed in the Australian plantation industry, including a variety of joint venture and annuity schemes between public and private parties. Of the standing estate in 2000, 48% was on public land and 37% was on private land. While the area of plantations in public ownership has lessened over time, the proportion in private ownership has increased. Just over half (53%) of the resource planted since 1990 had private land and tree ownership, while only a quarter of the resource planted during this period had public land and tree ownership.


Farm forestry

Farm forestry generally refers to the incorporation of commercial tree growing into farming systems. This may take the form of smaller scale plantations on farms, timberbelts, wind-breaks, alleys and wide-spaced plantings, and may also include management of native forest for commercial returns on farms.

Farm forestry is increasingly becoming adopted as part of farm management planning and integrated into existing land uses, not only to supply wood but to provide a range of benefits such as environmental protection and increased agricultural production.

To date, plantation farm forestry has mostly occurred in higher rainfall regions (greater than 600mm) where good growth rates can be achieved and there is an existing timber processing industry. Many farmers have also entered into farm forestry by leasing their land or forming joint venture agreements with large scale forest management companies. Fostering farm forestry uptake, and revegetation in general, in lower rainfall regions, will become an increasing priority in government programs designed to improve land management and ameliorate environmental degradation, especially salinity and water quality.

The baseline area for plantations owned outright by individuals having total estates less than 1,000 ha. (i.e. the small-grower sector) was just on 67,000 ha., or nearly 5% of Australia’s total plantation estate. In contrast to the wider plantation estate, which mainly comprised softwoods, the farm forest resource comprised over 60% hardwoods.

The management of private native forests is recognised as an important component of farm forestry, as 27% of Australia’s total native forest area is in private ownership and a further 42% is on privately managed leasehold land.

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