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Forest and Wood Products


This page provides high level information and data on the Forest and Wood Products industry which comprises two main industry sectors:

  • Forestry
  • Timber Processing and Products.

Forestry sub-sectors include:

  • Forest Growing and Management
  • Harvesting and Haulage.

Timber Processing and Products sub-sectors include:

  • Sawmilling and Processing
  • Timber Manufactured Products
  • Wood Panel and Board Production
  • Timber Merchandising.

Australian state and territory governments undertake many forest conservation and forest growing and harvesting activities through large state forestry business enterprises or agencies. The Sawmilling and Timber manufacturing sub-sectors are characterised by a large number of small- and medium-size producers and a smaller number of large producers which are often vertically integrated companies. Most wood panel businesses are large-scale operations. 

The Forest and Wood Products industry is a significant employer and contributor to rural and regional economies, and in 2017 the industry included 12,382 businesses with around 60% located in New South Wales and Victoria. Total sales turnover from Forestry and Wood Product related businesses was $22.6 billion in 2018, up from $17.9 billion in 2016.

The industry has developed a preference for skills development on an ad hoc basis, with many employers providing training at the outset of employment or during the course of employment when necessary (e.g. upskilling in new technology).

Additionally, the migration of training and skills recognition away from qualifications and towards the training of stand-alone units of competency and skills sets has resulted in declining enrolment and completion figures. As a result, the industry is looking to further understand how competency standards are used by workplaces and how best to develop consistent assessment instruments.

Nationally recognised training for the Forest and Wood Products industry is delivered under the FWP – Forest and Wood Products Training Package.

For more information and data specific to Forestry and Timber Processing and Products please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC’s and Skills Forecast

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment levels in Forestry and Logging, Wood Product Manufacturing, and Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling have fluctuated significantly between 2000 and 2019. Employment levels are expected to increase between 2019 and 2024 for Wood Product Manufacturing, and Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling, while Forestry and Logging is predicted to remain relatively stable.

There were approximately 2,250 program enrolments in the Forest and Wood Products Training Package during 2018 and 620 completions. Program enrolments and completions remained fairly stable between 2015 and 2016, then decreased in 2017; a slight increase has occurred in 2018 for enrolments, while completions have more than doubled between 2017 and 2018. There continues to be an increase in subject-only enrolments (no qualification), with approximately 16,280 recorded in 2018 representing a significant increase from roughly 9,570 in 2015.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The following generic skills were identified as top priority for the industry:

  • Technology and use application skills
  • Environmental and Sustainability skills
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy skills.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights the rapid transformation in which Australians live, work, rest and play and how this is impacting the industry and associated resources, as well as the processes and systems used to create and maintain these built environments.

Anticipating future skills needs is crucial to prepare for and meet new demands for forest sustainability and timber product markets in Australia. Leading indicators of current and future skills needs in the sector include:

  • Advancements of processing initiatives within manufacturing fields, including bioenergy, biochemicals, artificial intelligence, new engineered wood products and new building systems impacting the industry skills and workforce profiles
  • Changes to the National Construction Code allowing for timber manufactured products to be used in high rise buildings up to 25 metres in height, creating cross sector relationships with commercial construction and new skill considerations
  • Future changes in workplace and job design which are driven by innovation at the business and/or industry level as a result of technological advancements, including drones, scanners, laser scanners, cutters and finishing systems, plant genomes, block-chain applications and big data analytics.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast reports specific skills shortages which relate to the occupations of Specialist Engineers, Scientists and Mechanics, and Mobile and Fixed-Plant Operators. A need has also been indicated for workers with high-level financial, middle management and information and communication technology (ICT) skills. Recruiting skilled managers and professional staff, transport workers, finance managers and heavy machinery operators is also problematic for many regional businesses.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Arboriculture Australia

Australian Cabinet & Furniture Association

Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA)

Australian Forest Growers (AFG)

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA)

Australian Pulp and Paper Industry Technical Association (APPITA)

Australian Shop & Office Fitting Industry Association (ASOFIA)

Australian Window Association (AWA)

Australian Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association (AWISA)

Cabinet Makers Association of Western Australia (CMAWA)

Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA)

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA)

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT)

Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA)

Forest Industry Council (FIC)

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Australia


Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia (FTMA)

Furniture Cabinets Joinery Alliance (FCJA)

Glued Laminated Timber Association of Australia (GLTAA)

Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA)

Picture Framers Guild Australia (PFGA)

Responsible Wood

Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association (TFCA)

Tasmanian Sawmillers Association (TSA)

Timber & Building Materials Association (TABMA)

Timber Communities Australia (TCA) National

Timber Development Association of NSW (TDA)

Timber Merchants Australia (TMA)

Timber NSW

Timber Preservers Association of Australia (TPAA)

Timber Queensland Ltd

Timber Trade Industrial Association (TTIA)

Timber Veneer Association of Australia

Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)


Government bodies

National Timber Councils Association (NTCA)

Timber Towns Victoria


Employee associations

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing


Relevant research

Economic Potential for New Plantation Establishment in Australia – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Linden Whittle, Peter Lock and Beau Hug

Growing a Better Australia: A Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Industry Review 2016 – Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)

Management and Utilisation of Forest Residues – Stage 1 and Stage 2 Report – Department of State Growth, Tasmania

The Djarlma Plan (WA Forestry Industry Development Plan) – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Thin Markets: Improving Workforce Development Opportunities in Thin Markets of the Food, Fibre and Timber Industries – Food, Fibre and Timber Industries Training Council (WA)

Wood Encouragement Policy for Western Australia – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2023.

  • 03 Forestry and Logging
  • 14 Wood Product Manufacturing
  • 333 Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November  2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 03 Forestry and Logging
    • 14 Wood Product Manufacturing
    • 333 Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training packages:

  • FWP Forest and Wood Products Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

FWP – Forest and Wood Products Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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