5. Current data availability

​​​​This consultancy requires development of indicators that are replicable over time. There are currently limited data produced on social and economic aspects of forestry in Australia on a regular basis. These data are described in Table 8.

Table 8: Currently available social and economic information related to Australian forestry

Data source

Description

ABS statistics available at a small scale (defined as the Statistical Local Area [SLA] scale, roughly equivalent to local government areas)

Census of Population and Housing (CPH): Every five years, the CPH collects data on the number of people employed in the forest industry and in key occupations in the forest industry. Some of these data are not published publicly as part of the ABS’ public reporting, and take up to two months to access from the ABS through data purchase requests.

ABS statistics available at a larger scale

Manufacturing statistics: The ABS produce statistics on wood and paper product manufacturing. In recent years, changes in methodology have reduced comparability of these statistics over time. Data are available only to regional scale (Statistical Division), rather than local scale.

Labour Force Survey (LFS): The LFS is undertaken monthly by the ABS and collects data on employment by industry and occupation, although not at the same level of detail as CPH data. Data are available for 77 ‘labour force regions’ across Australia, with smaller scale data not published from the LFS.

ABARE Forest and Wood Products Statistics (FWPS)

The FWPS are produced quarterly, and provide data to the State level on employment and manufacturing in the forest industry.

Regional data collections

Some States and regional areas collate some data on forestry, but not typically in a consistent way over time or at small scales.

‘One-off’ surveys and projects

In recent years, a number of stand alone projects have been undertaken in which the social and economic impacts of the forest industry were examined, including the social assessments undertaken for the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). The questions examined and methodologies used have varied considerably, so that the data have limited comparability across studies, and few have examined impacts over time. It is important to assess whether some of these studies could be followed up to provide time series data on social and economic impacts of forestry. These one-off studies have also gone a considerable way towards developing indicators and methodologies for assessing social and economic impacts of forestry. Appendix 3 contains a review of the types of impacts examined in these studies, and methods used.

The ‘Communities’ project of the CRC for Forestry

The Communities project is a seven year research project, in which a range of social dimensions of forestry are being studied. It includes a large-scale, regular survey of employment in the forest industry in Tasmania and Western Australia, in which native forest and plantation employment are separated; and large-scale analysis of the social and economic changes resulting from the forest industry in these two states, using a range of sources of data. See www.crcforestry.com.au for further information.

The review of data availability was used to inform development of methods for measuring the recommended indicators discussed in Section 6.

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