Andrew Dunn visits the harvesting site at the Byfield National Forest.
Andrew Dunn visits the harvesting site at the Byfield National Forest. Kathryn Greensill

Plantation industry set to boom

ONE of the first to go in the Queensland Government assets sale, it is shaping up to be a huge industry in Central Queensland.

Forestry Plantations Queensland, which has a large base in Byfield, north of Yeppoon, has been leased to American company Hancock Timber Resource Group for $603 million over 99 years.

The plantation industry is preparing to boom in Central Queensland, as FPQ plants the thousands of hectares it has acquired over the last 10 years.

Andrew Dunn, forest manager for Capricorn Coast branch of FPQ, said once the trees had matured enough for harvesting, the organisation would have enough produce to support a local timber mill.

This dream was 15 years away yet, but would create hundreds of jobs for local people as well as benefiting the environment, he said.

Benefits of a bigger local plantation industry

Greater production from plantations will help to reduce Australia's trade deficit in wood and paper products with the potential to turn it into a surplus.

Reduced reliance on native forests for commercial timber production.

Enhanced regional development opportunities, as the associated processing plants are established/expanded to utilise the additionally available plantation log timber.

Increased rural employment, including jobs in plantation forestry and harvesting, domestic processing of wood products, transport and, from the flow-on effects of growth, in exports and local wood processing. Note that a study has shown that for every 10 jobs created in the forest industry, another 8.5 jobs can be traced back to the forest industry.

Environmental benefits, such as reduced soil salinity, wind and water erosion.

As sinks for carbon dioxide, plantations will help Australia meet its international obligations to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.

For every dollar spent in the forest industry, an additional 94 cents in other parts of Queensland's economy can be traced back to the forest industry.



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