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Career pathways in forest and wood products
The Australian forest and wood products industry is one of Australia’s largest and most diverse industries, providing a broad array of career opportunities in areas including science, research, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, trades and sales.
The industry provides Australia with a wide range of essential materials – from the wood used to build houses and furniture to the paper we print on. Many of the people who work with wood – from carpenters and builders to joiners, cabinetmakers, and those in the forestry and timber processing industries – share a love of the material and its importance to humanity.
In 2007-08 the turnover of Australia’s forest product industries was more than $21 billion, or 6.7 per cent of total manufacturing output. The sector employs more than 120,000 people (Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2009) so whatever your skill or level of expertise you’re likely to find an interesting and exciting career.
Where people are working in forest and wood products
The latest analysis of jobs in the industry shows the huge range of careers working in the industry.
Within each sector there are people working in many different roles – from plant operators and tradespeople to technicians, managers, salespeople, scientists and more. Whatever career you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it in more than one sector of the forest and wood products industry.
Australian forest facts
Australian forests are an important part of the environment, comprising nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s land area and storing nearly 12 billion tonnes of carbon.
- Total land area: 769.2 million hectares
- Total forest area: 149.4 million hectares
- Forest as a proportion of land: 19 per cent
- Native forest area: 147.4 million hectares
- Forest area in nature conservation reserves: 23.0 million hectares
- Public native forests where timber production is permitted (gross area): 9.4 million hectares
- Total carbon stored in forests: 12 billion tonnes
- Plantation forest area: 2.0 million hectares
Imports and exports
In the forest and wood products sector, as in all industries, global trade is important for our national prosperity. In 2009 Australia’s wood and wood products exports were valued at $2.3 billion with imports worth $4.4 billion. The majority of wood and wood products imported into Australia are those that we cannot produce at all, or in volumes sufficient to meet local demand.
Both imports and exports create employment opportunities in areas ranging from processing and manufacturing to logistics and sales.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Resource Economics – Bureau of Rural Sciences’ report, Australian forests at a glance 2010 (data to 2009), is a considerable resource on Australian forests.
Australia’s forest and wood products industry comprises the following sectors:
- Forest growing and management
- Harvesting and haulage
- Saw-milling and processing
- Timber products manufacturing
- Panel and board production
- Pulp and paper manufacturing
- Timber merchandising
These sectors are outlined below.
Forest growing and management
The forest growing and management sector covers the commercial establishment and management of forest resources for the production of wood, timber and paper products. Forest resources comprise plantations and native forests.
Harvesting and haulage
The harvesting and haulage sector involves the harvesting and transporting of logs from the forest to the point of primary processing.
Saw-milling and processing
The Saw-milling and processing sector of the forest industry comprises the primary processing operations of saw-milling, wood chipping and wood chip export facilities, and bio-energy production.
Timber products manufacturing
The timber products manufacturing sector encompasses the secondary processing of a large range of timber products to create value added products.
Panel and board production
The Panel and board production sector includes the production of wood products such as plywood, veneer, and particleboard for use in domestic and commercial construction as well as industrial applications.
Pulp and paper manufacturing
Australia’s pulp and paper manufacturing sector encompasses the production of wood pulp and a range of paper and paperboard products.
The timber merchandising sector incorporates the merchandising of timber, wall frames, roof trusses, and other hardware and building products to wholesalers and end users.
* Source acknowledgement: Australia’s Forestry Industry Database