One of Australia’s largest timber-producing regions will explore using low-value wood fibre in engineered products to address the nation’s growing structural timber deficit crisis. The Green Triangle forestry industry, spanning parts of western Victoria and the Limestone Coast in South Australia, has received a AU$1.3 million federal grant to explore the creation of new wood products using softwood and hardwood pulp.
The project comes amid the ongoing export log ban by China and structural timber shortages faced by homebuilders, renovators and the construction sector. A report by Forest and Wood Products Australia claims demand for new housing will climb from 183,000 new dwellings per year to 259,000 by 2050. This is expected to drive an increase of almost 50 per cent in the demand for sawn softwood.
Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union national secretary Michael O’Connor said action was needed. “Australia is not going to be able to build the new homes that it needs into the future if we don’t take urgent action now to ensure we have the softwood supply the country needs,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The timber shortage crisis is a global problem, and Australia can’t look to other markets for solutions. We need our own plan.” Forest and Wood Products Australia, in partnership with the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub, has received an Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program grant to explore opportunities to create new wood products using softwood and hardwood pulp.
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub executive general manager Liz McKinnon said the project was potentially exciting for the regional industry, as it underpinned thousands of local jobs. “This project will determine whether it is feasible to manufacture an engineered wood product for use in building construction using this fibre.”