We can’t rely on imports anymore. So we need to make a decision. Do we want to import timber, or grow it?

About a quarter of the timber used in Australia for construction was, before the pandemic, being imported. It’s madness and it equates to around $2 billion spent importing timber every year.

So what happened?
Well, not surprisingly Australia wasn’t the only country in the world who decided to use construction to stimulate the economy and ward off a pandemic-initiated recession.
That means that the previously imported timber is now going to markets like the US, UK and China where at one point construction timber increased in price by 400%, such is the global demand.
There is no longer a guarantee that Australia will be able to continue to source timber from overseas, and we shouldn’t anyway.
Timber is the most environmentally friendly and the only carbon neutral construction material in the world, even more so when grown locally.
We don’t have a “divine right” to have wood imported into Australia and people who want to build a house right now are feeling the effects of this demand and lack of sovereignty right across Australia.
The population is growing, therefore so too is the demand for housing. So are we prepared to take a chance and plunder the rest of the world for our timber needs or are we prepared to grow our own?
It’s great for the government to announced stimulus packages to encourage home building, it’s a proven way of pushing money through the economy, but we must not forget that it will also require more hardwood and softwood.
The recent announcement of grants by the PM to increase plantations is a great start, and now it’s time for the public to get behind this essential industry to break down the stigma, break down the barriers and get more trees in the ground.
Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association.


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