1. Introduction

​​​In April 2008, the Forest Industries Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) engaged the Fenner School of Environment and Society to identify a set of indicators to describe and quantify the social and economic impact of forestry in Australia over time.

The indicators developed need to:

  • Be cost effective, to enable regular monitoring;
  • Be valid - measure what they are intended to measure;
  • Be replicable over time - requiring a consistent, replicable and cost effective methodology;
  • Be applicable across both native forest and plantation sectors;
  • Be applicable at local, regional and national scale where possible; and
  • Provide information on the most relevant social and economic impacts.

A key priority was to identify indicators that can be readily and cost effectively measured over time using available sources of data, as well as identify where further information is needed, but not as easily accessible.

Indicators were developed by reviewing the types of information needed about social and economic impacts of forestry, followed by identifying methods that can be utilised to measure these impacts. Information needs were identified by reviewing current forest policies, media reports on forestry, recent research recording public perceptions about forestry, and reports produced by stakeholders with an interest in forestry in Australia. Methods for measuring indicators were identified by reviewing the data currently produced on forestry by different organisations such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and reviewing methods used in recent research studies to measure the impacts of forestry.

The initial indicators identified were discussed at a workshop of forestry stakeholders, and an initial set of recommended indicators developed based on these discussions. The following types of indicators were recommended for monitoring the social and economic impacts of forestry in Australia:

  • Indicators which measure characteristics of the forest industry:
  • Direct employment in the forest industry;
  • Proportion of land utilised by the forest industry;
  • Estimated value and volume of production;
  • Efficiency of production, measured as labour productivity; and
  • Consumption of wood and paper products.
  • Impacts of the forest industry on the broader community:
  • Dependence on the forest industry, measured as the proportion of the employed labour force working in the forest industry;
  • Social characteristics of forestry-dependent communities;
  • Location of forest industry employment;
  • Impact of plantation forestry on rural population; and
  • Values, uses and perceptions of forestry activities.
  • Impacts of the forest industry on its workforce:
  • Income earned by forestry workers;
  • Physical and mental health of forestry workers;
  • Self-rated wellbeing of forestry workers;
  • Age and gender of forestry workers;
  • Forestry workers' attachment to place;
  • Forestry workers' cultural and family attachment to forestry;
  • Hours worked by forestry workers; and
  • Education qualifications of forestry workers.
  • Impacts of the forest industry on Indigenous people:
  • Quantity of Indigenous employment in the forest industry;
  • Types of Indigenous employment in the forest industry; and
  • Area of forest owned or accessed by Indigenous people.

These recommended indicators were then tested in two case study regions: north-east Tasmania, and the Green Triangle region of south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia. These two regions were chosen as they have a considerable amount of forest industry activity. In the Green Triangle region, this activity is based almost completely on plantation forestry, including both hardwood and softwood plantations, while in Tasmania the industry is based on native forests and plantations.

This document reports the results of testing indicators in the Green Triangle case study region. Results for each of the recommended indicators are presented, and trends in the Green Triangle forest industry compared to trends in Australia overall. Not all of the recommended indicators could be tested in the case study region, due to time and resource constraints. Where an indicator could not be tested, it is not presented in this report; details of methods for measuring these indicators can be found in Schirmer et al. (2008a).

The results of the analysis presented in this report were used to refine the indicators recommended by the consultancy; the final recommended indicators are documented in Schirmer et al. (2008a). Results of the Tasmanian case study are documented in Schirmer et al. (2008b).

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