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Woodchips lead the way in export growth

The value of Australia’s forest product exports rose significantly in 2007-08, growing by 5% over the year to reach $2.5 billion, driven by woodchip export growth and to a lesser extent growth in recovered paper exports.
However, many exporters struggled with the high Australian dollar and softening demand for some products, results from ABARE’s Australian Forest and Wood Products Statistics report show.
The report, by Karen Schneider, acting executive director, ABARE, showed the total volume of coniferous and broadleaved (eucalypt) woodchip exports increased by 3.6% over 2007-08. The price of woodchips increased markedly over the year – by 14% for coniferous woodchips and by 7.9% for broadleaved woodchips.
“The higher prices and higher export volume of woodchips pushed the total value of Australia’s woodchip exports above $1 billion for the first time,” Schneider said.
Importantly, the growth in woodchips is coming from Australia’s plantation sector, which has invested significantly in broadleaved plantations over the past decade.
“In particular, the investment in plantations in Western Australia and Tasmania is now reaping significant returns. The volume of logs from broadleaved plantations in Western Australia has increased by 440% and by almost 350% in Tasmania, from 2000-01 to 2006-07. This has allowed the industry to rely less on native forests for the woodchip trade,” Schneider added.
While exports of recovered paper also grew strongly, reaching $252 million, most other forest product exports declined over the year. The value of sawnwood exports fell by 17% and wood based panels by almost 14% in 2007-08.
The value of forest product imports was also higher this year, growing by 3.1% to reach $4.4 billion. Most of this growth was in sawnwood, packaging and industrial paper and paper manufactures.