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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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Australia's native and plantation forests are an important natural resource providing a wide range of products and benefits to the community.

Forests are a reservoir of biological diversity and functioning ecosystems. They provide protection for soils and water resources, and are increasingly being recognised for their potential as carbon sinks. They are the foundation for a broad range of cultural and spiritual experiences for diverse groups of people and a major tourist attraction for Australians and overseas visitors, providing for a vast array of recreational and educational activities. Our forests and plantations also provide the basis for Australia's forest industries. Employment and wealth flow directly from the wood products derived from the forests, such as sawn timber, fibreboard, plywood and paper, and support a variety of other forest products and services, such as honey, wildflowers, natural oils, gums, resins, medicines, firewood and craft wood.

The Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments share a vision of ecologically sustainable management of the forest estate that integrates environmental, commercial and community values and uses. These values are embodied in regional forest agreements negotiated in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

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