Owning a timber business isn’t just about timber sales and it isn’t just about Brisbane. For us, it’s about making the world a better place, starting with every customer who walks in our door. But we also want to do our share to make the world a better place by leaving the environment better than we left it.
The best way to do that is by using sustainable timber. We have explained numerous times here that when timber is responsibly grown and harvested, it stores carbon, turns sunlight into oxygen and helps fight global warming. We won’t go into the detail we often have here, but the short version is that sustainable forests and plantations, every tree is harvested at the right time and replaced by a new three to start the cycle of life all over again.
This month, our other large blog piece was about a report to the Government from the Forestry Industry Advisory Committee (FIAC) about how to grow Australian forestry 300% by 2050. In this piece, we would like to explain the importance of one of their suggestions: sustainable forestry. In addition, we would like to tell you about an idea that is gaining a lot of traction within the industry: using currently unused farmland to grow some timber.
The State of Plantation Forestry in Australia
Right now, Australian has roughly 2,000,000 hectares of timber plantations. They account for about 80% of Australian timber for the timber products industry. Demand for timber is growing, especially due to its status as a material that stores carbon. Sustainable timber products, as we have said, help the environment.
However, due to a host of factors, including the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and climate change, many plantations aren’t able to turn a profit. Thousands of hectares of land formerly used for timber are being re-converted back into farmland.
Most sawn timber that is used for housing is produced in Australia, but when the entire timber products market is considered, Australia actually imports more timber products than it exports. While we do export a lot of unprocessed wood chips and pine or “softwood” logs, we also import a lot of processed board and paper products.
Ultimately, we need more land to be used as plantation timber. It is not financially feasible for most businesses to buy new land to turn into plantations because it takes from 10-25 years to see any profit on new plantation land. Due to this problem, many in the industry recommend maximising the land we already have.
And herein lies the best idea so far: since between 10-20% of existing farmland isn’t being utilised, farmers could begin using their unused parcels of land as timber plantations without affecting their crops or their output. If trees are planted correctly, they can actually enhance the production of crops and livestock.
Just for Australia to meet environmental objectives such as deep decarbonisation and other long term environmental objectives, it is estimated that between 14.6 and 21.3 million hectares of land must be turned into timber plantations.
Many different business models are being floated around, such as timber companies partnering with farmers, using their land to grow timber and giving them a “cut” of the profits. This can not only help native softwoods, but a lot of native hardwood species and even some imported species can be experimented with.
What This Means to Timber Suppliers in Brisbane
We love the idea of turning unused farmland into small, sustainable, environmentally responsible timber plantations. We are staunch advocates of plantation timber and the idea that every tree is harvested after its carbon storage curve slows down and replaced by a new tree at the beginning of the carbon storage curve.
We also want to have an abundant supply of Australian timber available for our customers at low prices. We think the concept of using farmland to grow plantation timber is brilliant and we hope to see it implemented. It helps farmers get more out of their land and helps the Australian timber industry better provide for Australia’s needs.
Most of all, it helps keep Australian timber sustainable. And that is good for all of us.
To learn more or to talk to customer service about our wide variety of timber products, call Narangba Timbers today: (07) 3888 1293.