Releasing more timber to help solve Australia’s building crisis

Simon Talbot, General Manager – Tasmania Forestry Hub 

Many of you would have read the Federal Government’s plan to build one million homes by end of the decade, as the Labor Government seeks to mitigate housing crisis.

The Tasmania Forestry Hub has identified two key issues which must be overcome to support this aspiration:

  1. Australian Timber ‘Availability’; and 
  2. ‘Affordability’: this timber will be pressured by wage increases, labor shortages, booming energy prices and broader inflation impacts. 

The Hub is working with Greenwood Strategy to unlock shorter and more medium sawlog availability in Tasmania. In brief we have identified five options to get more out of the current forest estate. These are;

Option 1: Increase the amount of wood grown on each hectare (productivity).
Option 2: Increase the recovery of sawn timber from sawlogs (manufacturing technology).
Option 3: Increase the proportion of logs which are used to produce sawlog rather than pulplog (manufacturing technology and markets).
Option 4: Increase the proportional volume of sawlogs produced from each hectare (silvicultural interventions, markets and manufacturing technology).
Option 5: Change construction systems from solid wood frames and trusses to engineered panels which require different types of logs to produce woodchips and strands (processing technology, markets).

We have decided to focus predominantly on Option 4, and specifically the thinning and pruning of Tasmania’s hardwood plantations, specialty species and regrowth forests.

These management interventions which–if supported by the Government and applied to the existing forest estate–could result in shorter-to-medium-term increases in the production of timber which is suitable for use in dwelling construction.

We expect a report to be available in mid-November showing a strong return of investment for such activity. Tasmania could serve as an ideal national pilot to test the benefits of a contestable Commonwealth Government Capital Fund to support such activities.

To discuss further, you can contact Simon here.