Fast forest facts

​​​​​​​​The following forest facts are drawn from Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013, and are generally based on data up to or as of 2011:

​​Type and extent of Australia's forests

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • Australia has 125 million hectares of forest, equivalent to 16% of Australia's land area or about 3% of the world's forest area (the seventh largest reported forest area of any country).
  • Australia's forests comprise 123 million hectares of native forests (98% of the total forest area), 2.02 million hectares of industrial plantation forests, and 0.15 million hectares of other forests.
  • Australia's native forests are dominated by eucalypt forests (92 million hectares; 75% of the native forest area) and acacia forests (9.8 million hectares; 8%); the area of rainforest is 3.6 million hectares (3%).
  • About two-thirds of Australia's native forest (81.7 million hectares; 66.6%) is woodland forest with 20–50% crown cover.
  • Australia's industrial plantation forests consist of similar areas of softwood species (1.03 million hectares, mostly pines) and hardwood species (0.98 million hectares, mostly eucalypts).

Conservation of Australia's forests

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • 39 million hectares (32% by area) of Australia's native forests are in areas protected for biodiversity conservation.
  • Protected areas include areas protected by prescription in multiple-use public forests, legally covenanted private land, formal and informal nature conservation reserves, and other protected areas on Crown-managed land.
  • Nature conservation is the primary management intent for 26 million hectares of the total protected native forest area (21% of Australia's forests).

Forest-dwelling species in Australia

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • A new national compilation of forest-dwelling vertebrate animals (2,212 species) and vascular plants (at least 16,836 species) was prepared from lists held by states and territories.
  • The national list of threatened species includes 1,431 forest-dwelling species (283 vertebrates, 32 invertebrates and 1,116 vascular plants).
  • During 2006–11, a total of 89 species were added to the national list of threatened forest-dwelling species, and 21 were removed (due to better information about species populations, distributions or ecology that indicated that species were not threatened, or taxonomic revisions).

Fire in Australia's forests

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • Fire is a major component of the ecology of most Australian forests, particularly eucalypt forests.
  • An estimated 39.0 million hectares of forest was burnt by fire in Australia in the period 2006–07 to 2010–11. Unplanned fires (wildfire) burnt an estimated 31.6 million hectares (81% of total forest burnt), and planned fires burnt an estimated 7.4 million hectares of forest (19% of total forest burnt).
  • Most bushfires, in terms of number and area, continue to occur in northern Australia, with 77% of the total forest area burnt being in the Northern Territory and Queensland in the period 2006–07 to 2010–11, including some areas that burnt more than once.

Forests available for wood production in Australia

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • In Australia, 2.0 million hectares of industrial plantation forests were available for commercial wood production in 2010–11, an increase from 1.8 million hectares in 2005–06. Most of Australia's wood is harvested from plantations.
  • Australia's native forest wood and wood-based products are mostly sourced from multiple-use public forests in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. In 2010–11, 36.6 million hectares of native forest was both available and suitable for commercial wood production: of this area, 7.5 million hectares was in multiple-use public forests and 29.1 million hectares was in leasehold and private forests.

Sustainable wood production in Australia's forests

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • The area of multiple-use public native forest harvested annually for wood declined from about 117,000 hectares in 2006–07 to about 79,000 hectares in 2010–11, a decrease of 32%.
  • Average sustainable sawlog harvest yields from public multiple-use native forests declined by 47% nationally between 1992–96 and 2006–11 (due to increased forest reservation, increased restrictions on harvesting in codes of forest practice, revised estimates of forest growth and yield, and the impacts of broadscale wildfires).
  • Actual sawlog harvest from native forest also declined; nationally, the actual sawlog harvest levels were below sustainable yield levels by 17% for the period 2006-11. Pulplog harvests from native forests also declined.
  • Over the period 1992–96 to 2006–11, the sawlog and pulplog harvest from softwood plantation forests increased, as did the pulplog harvest from hardwood plantation forests.
  • Plantation forests produce 71% of Australia's total log supply: hardwood plantation forests provide 35% of the pulplog supply and 1% of the sawlog supply, while softwood plantation forests provide 39% of the pulplog supply and 79% of the sawlog supply.

Employment in Australian forest industries

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • Total direct employment in the forest and wood products sector fell between 2006 and 2011, from about 85,000 to about 73,000 employees, including in regions most dependent on the sector.
  • The decline in total direct employment was largely the result of a 14.3% fall in full-time direct employment in the forest sector between 2006 and 2011, from about 70,000 to about 60,000 employees.

Carbon in Australia's forests

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • Carbon stocks in Australia's forests increased slightly over the period 2005–10 (from 12,831 to 12,841 million tonnes), as did transfers of carbon from forests to forest products in service and in landfill.
  • Plantation forests accounted for 171 million tonnes of the forest carbon stock in 2010.
  • In 2010, 103 million tonnes of carbon derived from forests was present in wood and wood products, including paper, in service (7 million tonnes more than in 2005 and 14 million tonnes more than in 2000);
  • In 2010, 123 million tonnes of carbon derived from forests was present in wood and wood products, including paper, in landfill (6 million tonnes more than in 2005 and 13 million tonnes more than in 2000).
  • The total volume of greenhouse gases emitted by forestry operations in producing logs represents only 3–7% of the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide sequestered in those logs.

Forest certification in Australia

(as reported in Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013)

  • The area of forest in which forest management is certified under either the Australian Forest Certification Scheme or the Forest Stewardship Council has continued to increase. In 2011, about 10.7 million hectares of native forests and plantation forests were certified, with some areas certified under both schemes.
Last reviewed:
31 Mar 2017