Australians use forest products every single day and in just about every aspect of our daily lives. The products that we buy from the supermarket, the houses that we live in, the buildings that we work in, are all made with products that come from forests. In fact, modern Australia would be a vastly different place without the on-going supply of high quality, durable forest products. When you switch a light on, or turn on the TV, in most cases, the electricity that you are using has been transported to your house via power lines carried on strong, durable and renewable timber poles.
The wonderful thing about all of these forest products is that they come from a renewable resource. This means that, unlike metals, fossil fuels, glass and concrete, the trees that produce these products can be managed in a way that helps them to grow again or they can be re-planted, ensuring an endless supply of renewable and sustainable timber.
Different types of forests produce different products. Not all forests are capable of growing tall straight and durable trees for power poles. Tree species, soil depth and structure, climate and the aspect of the forest can all influence the types of forest products that the forest is able to produce.
Australian trees that are suited to making paper have a low density, for example Eucalyptus globulous (Blue gum). Queensland does not have a pulp and paper plantation industry because we do not have a large area of cheap land on which species like Eucalyptus globulous can be grown. The majority of marginal agricultural land in Queensland, that is suitable for eucalypt plantation supports native species such as Spotted gum (Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata) and Narrow-leaved red ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra); these are dense and durable timbers adapted to low-rainfall and generally poor soils.
The Queensland forestry industry is large and diverse. While we don’t produce eucalypt pulp for paper production, we produce a broad range of sawn and solid-wood products from both plantations and native forestsystems. Queensland is blessed with some of the hardest and most durable eucalypt species in Australia. These same species also have beautiful colour and grain, making them suitable for flooring and cabinet making.
Private Native Forests in Queensland are mostly all re-growth forests that have been cleared for agriculture and then left to re-grow when the soil and climate was no longer suitable for grazing or cropping. These forests have been harvested opportunistically, to supplement farming incomes in poor years. They have rarely been managed with thought for the future productivity and health of the forest. As a result, much of Queensland’s private native forest resource is overstocked and genetically degraded.
Native Forest Management is a term that represents a broad range of forest management systems. Each forest type has its own management needs. The goal of native forest management is to continually improve the health of the forest ecosystem, thereby increasing forest productivity and long-term sustainability of the landscape.