Australian solid timber furniture is made from imported species; a lot of it from Asia, and local species grown around Australia but mostly in Tasmania; Victoria; NSW; Queensland and West Australia. A vibrant forest industry is vital to ensure that the raw materials are available to produce quality Australian furniture for export.
A recent article in ‘The Age’ shows how easy it is for the mainstream media to feed negative perceptions about the native forest industry. The article implied that timber production in Victoria’s forests was poorly regulated, could be illegal and was probably environmentally and economically unsustainable. VicForests does not have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification but they are certified by the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) which is recognised by the globally accepted Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), an international, non-government organisation that promotes sustainable forest management. Mark Poynter is a forestry writer and consultant. He says “There are long-standing concerns about the media’s motivation and its lack of independence in relation to forestry issues. The media automatically accepts what scientists say as undeniable, especially when it is pro-environment. One article claimed that the Mountain Ash forests were critically endangered but in fact, these forests still occupy 97% of their pre-European range and two-thirds of it will never be used for timber production.”
Many readers will remember the Greek fire tragedy in July this year. The Institute of Foresters of Australia has warned that Federal and State Governments must learn from this tragedy before we experience another Black Saturday bushfire in Australia. Bob Gordon, National President of the Institute said “It is easy to blame climate change, but we know that successful suppression of “easy bushfires”, and not conducting large scale low intensity prescribed burns in public and private forests, leads to forest fuel accumulation. The more fuel available for a fire to burn, the harder it is to extinguish and the more damage it can do.”
Timberbiz reports that Australia’s timber plantations are continuing to decline, with more hardwood estates being converted back to agriculture. In 2016-17, Australia lost 19,700 hectares of plantations, down 1% with the biggest drop in hardwoods used in part for Australian furniture; which fell by 2.1% and far outweighing any gains of only 200 new hectares. In related news; Imports of sawn softwood, mostly for house framing topped 854,000 cubic metres over the year-ended March, according to trade and market experts IndustryEdge. The rise in imports was almost 16% higher than a year earlier and is driven by consistent housing approvals. Tim Woods from IndustryEdge said “Unless something changes, like a sharp rise in the value of the US Dollar or the Euro, or new capacity domestically, the imports will continue and could still grow.”