June 4, 2012
The number of sawmills processing logs in Australia has declined considerably over the past decade, according to the National Wood Processing Survey 2010–11, released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). Executive Director of ABARES, Paul Morris said the number of sawmills processing logs in Australia had declined by over 70 per cent in the past decade to 332 sawmills in 2010–11. “Despite these changes, total production of sawnwood in Australia has declined by only 4.3 per cent since 1999–00, reflecting much of the capacity loss being in smaller and less efficient mills,” Mr Morris said. Australia’s sawmills have endured a period of change over the past decade, with the availability of logs from private and public native forests declining, and increasing availability from plantations. Although the number of coniferous sawmills has declined, the volume of coniferous plantation logs processed in Australia has increased over the past decade. This is largely the result of increases in the scale of processing in the coniferous sawnwood industry, with the average coniferous sawmill now processing more than 100,000 cubic metres of logs per annum. In contrast, the broadleaved sawmill industry, which remains more dependent on the supply of logs from native forests, has seen a 40 per cent decline in log availability since 1999–00. In response to this, the broadleaved sawmill industry has diversified, with a range of small and large scale sawmills, and this results in a higher average number of people employed compared with the coniferous sawmill industry. This survey represents an update of the 2007 sawmill survey and is jointly funded by ABARES and Forest and Wood Products Australia.