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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Land

PLANTATION FORESTS

Plantation forests are an important source of timber, and currently supply about two-thirds of the logs for Australia's domestic timber requirements and exports. When planted on land that was previously cleared, plantations can bring environmental benefits such as lowering the water table (and hence reducing salinity), reducing erosion, providing wind shelters, or acting as carbon sinks to offset carbon dioxide emissions. However, plantations (whether exotic or native) have vastly simplified ecosystems. They contain far fewer species of plants and animals than forests that have matured over thousands of years. Plantations can also be more vulnerable to pests and disease, which can then spread and increase the risk of exotic species invading nearby areas of natural forest.

In 2009, Australia had more than 2 million hectares of timber plantations, approximately 1.5% of Australia's total forested area. Of this total, 50% were softwood species (1.0 million hectares), 49% were hardwood species (991,000 hectares) and less than 1% were other plantations (9,000 hectares). Australia's plantation area has been expanding steadily for several years. An average of 70,000 hectares of new plantations were established in each of the four years to 2009 (BRS 2010b).

About 28.5 million cubic metres of logs were harvested in 2008, of which about 68% were from plantations (BRS 2010b). The remainder were from native forests.

Plantation forest area


Forest type
2005
2009
('000) hectares
('000) hectares

Hardwood plantations
740
991
Softwood plantations
990
1 020
Other plantations
10
9
Total plantation forests
Total forest (a)
1 740
164 410
2 020
149 417

(a) Includes native forests for 2003 and 2008 respectively.
Sources: Bureau of Rural Sciences, Australia's Forests at a Glance, 2007 and 2010

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