Demand for locally-grown native timber from south-east Queensland could soon be on the increase.
The executive officer of Private Forestry Service Queensland, Sean Ryan, says an expected slowdown in timber imports will provide opportunities for private landholders.
He says Queensland is harvesting 100,000 cubic metres less than it was 15 years ago, before state forest was locked up for conservation, but the resource is still there and now places like China are crying out for it.
“Within five years, wood that comes out of New Guinea and South East Asia has well and truly passed its peak production, and we really need to boost up our production to cover that,” he said.
“China’s chasing us every day to send both logs in the round as well as saw material.”
Queensland has about 56 million hectares of state and privately-owned forest, supplying the timber processing industry which turns over about $4 billion every year.
Timber Queensland says an extra 100,000 hectares of sawlog plantations need to be set up to meet future demand.
However, the drawn-out release of the Timber Plan is making it difficult for the industry and private landholders to make decisions about the future.
Consultation on the plan closed last December, and Mr Ryan says he hopes the final plan will better direct cutting regimes, and encourage the government to harvest more timber.
He says the plan recommends adjusting pay rates for state harvested timber so the government gets as much as landholders.
“The state department hasn’t got the money to actually get in and manage their forests, and if they were getting an industry parity price, and if that money was quarantined for management, which is what we believe should happen, then we could improve our productivity out of those state forests dramatically.”