Are NSW State Forests being managed sustainably?

Eager to find out more on how New South Wales state forests are being managed? Concerned about their sustainability and long term future? Join us as we share our insights into the practices shaping one of NSW largest natural resources and identify some of the misconceptions surrounding its sustainable management and conservation efforts.

New South Wales has a rich ecology and expansive forest cover, with almost a quarter of the state being tree covered. Of the 20 million hectares of NSW forest, only 10% is classified as State owned forest. Hence the importance of our sustainable private forest management, however back to the state forests.

Forestry Corporation have been managing NSW State Forests for more than 100 years, with most of the State Forest considered a regrowth forest, with today’s trees having regrown following past harvest(s). Alongside the 2 million hectares of coastal native, cypress and red gum forests, the NSW Forestry Corporation also manages dedicated softwood and hardwood plantations, with the latter located on the North Coast.

Timber Production

Of the 2 million hectares of NSW State owned forest only 30,000 hectares of state forest are harvested each year. To put that into further perspective, only 1.5% of all state owned forest is eligible for harvesting each year, dispelling any misconceptions about over-logging in NSW State Forests. 

This harvesting occurring within State Forests is Crown Land that has been allocated to timber farming. Something that is environmentally responsible, to enable Australia to grow and harvest its own renewable resource, reducing the requirement to import timber from overseas or to substitute with a man-made higher intensity material such as steel for building purposes.

High Quality Timber

Over 4 million tonnes of renewable timber is produced by Forestry Corporation from 1.5% of state owned forest each year. This accounts for 14% of Australia’s national timber production and is equivalent to the timber required to build 25% of all Australia’s new homes annually. In 2019, over half (55%) of all timber produced from NSW North Coasts state forests was high quality timber, with the remaining 35% low quality primarily used for products such as fencing, pallets and reconstituted wood panels. It is therefore untrue to consider that timber from State Forests is more often low quality and could be easily sourced elsewhere. In fact in Northern NSW alone State Forests account for circa 450,000m3 of timber per year compared to Private Native Forestry at circa 275,000m3 yearly, making it a crucial resource for our economy (Forestry Corporation).

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Source: Forestry Corporation

State Forest Finances

The NSW State Forests contribute significantly to NSW and Australia’s economy. In the 2018/19 financial year, revenues exceeded expectations at $415 million, with an additional $74 million in normalised earnings, making it the fifth consecutive year to deliver a positive result (Forestry Corporation Sustainability Report 2018/19). The 2019/20 bushfires, although impacting recent years’ results with increased operating costs, have not overshadowed the positive outcomes, as there remains a robust demand for hardwood timber products. Despite the challenges, State Forests continue to hold significant economic value, delivering $370m in revenue in 2022/23, supporting thousands of jobs and driving visitor expenditure within the region (Forestry Corporation Annual Report 2022/23).

Protection of Forest

The native forestry industry is highly regulated, with the NSW Environmental Protection Agency dedicated to ensure precious habitat for our native wildlife is protected, soil and water quality is not compromised and rules for sustainable timber production are adhered to. As such more than half (over one million hectares) of NSW state forest is permanently protected for wildlife, conservation and human recreation and enjoyment, and will never be harvested (Forestry Corporation Native Forestry). Around 400,000 hectares of which are located on the North Coast to provide guaranteed koala habitat (Forestry Corporation Koala Research).

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Over 1 million hectares of NSW State Forest is protected from timber production to maintain native wildlife habitat including koala habitat and for forest enjoyment.

Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM) is the guiding philosophy behind the management of State forests in NSW, underpinning the operations undertaken by forestry Corporation in their management practices. The responsibilities of Forestry Corporation extend far beyond the management of timber harvesting in State Forests. They are also responsible for pest and weed management, fire management and bushfire recovery as well as maintaining more than 60,000 km of forest roads and trails.

Recreational use of NSW State Forest

There are more than 65 state forests in New South Wales that can be enjoyed. From walking and bike trails to camping and climbing the forests offer so much opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors. From the Wildnets & The Big Koala at Port Macquarie to Treetops & Sealy Lookout in Coffs Harbour adventure awaits for all ages. Make sure to check out these recommended State Forest Top Spots before your next visit.

Are NSW State Forests being managed sustainably?
Forestry Corporation are responsible for managing State Forest Infrastructure of over 60,000 km of forest roads and trails.

Sustainable  Management of NSW State Forests

‘NSW State forests are certified sustainable so when you source wood from a State forest, you know that the forest is being managed responsibly and another tree is already growing in its place, capturing carbon and having a positive impact on climate change’.

Recent research concluded that the carbon sequestered by sustainably managed State forests is the equivalent to taking 230,000 cars off the road each year. Certified under the Responsible Wood Certification System and awarded the Australian standard for sustainable forest management, ensures all timber produced by the State Forests has been sourced sustainably and are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable. You don’t just have to take our word for it. Forestry Australia also has some great content further debunking the myths around native forestry.

Keen to ensure your own private native forest is managed sustainably?

Connect with us today. As leaders in sustainable management of private native forest along the NSW North Coast, Sustainable Forest Management helps dozens of private landowners each year to successfully manage their forests for the best long-term outcome.  Get in contact or call us on 1300 367 378 to arrange a free assessment and valuation of your forest.

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