South West native forests

The State Government is committed to balancing the conservation and productive use of forests to support the community’s environmental, social and economic needs and values now and into the future.

There are approximately 2.5 million hectares of land vested in the Conservation and Parks Commission in the South West of Western Australia.

Approximately 62% of this land is set aside in national parks, reserves, old-growth forests and other areas for the community to use and enjoy. The reserved areas for both jarrah and karri forests are more than double the required area under the national JANIS criteria.

The remaining 38% of land is made up of regrowth forest, plantations and timber reserves which are available for the production of timber. 

Timber harvesting and reestablishment is guided by natural processes. Less than 1% of the total native forest area is available for harvest each year, and is then regrown to ensure that it is available for the use of future generations.
 

Protecting old-growth forests

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In 2001, Western Australia became the first state in Australia to cease logging in old-growth forests.

Western Australia’s comprehensive Forest Management Plan (FMP), prepared by the Conservation and Parks Commission and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), permanently prohibits the harvesting of forest products from more than 1.4 million hectares of reserves, including all old-growth forests in national parks, nature reserves, conservation parks and forest conservation areas. 

The reserve design of the FMP improves the protection of forest ecosystems and protects areas of high flora, species richness and diversity, as well as fauna refuges.

Sustainable timber harvesting is undertaken following the strict guidelines outlined in the FMP and contemporary, scientifically based silvicultural practices to help ensure sustainability for future generations.

Harvesting

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The Forest Products Commission (FPC) undertakes harvesting within native forests on a rotational basis in patches throughout the South West region. The different aged patches create a mosaic of forests at different stages of growth, providing a range of habitat.

Every tree in a forest competes for sunlight, water and nutrients. Foresters undertake thinning or selective harvesting to improve the growth and health of the remaining trees, and in turn produce better quality trees for healthier forests, biodiversity, other environmental services and to increase timber values.

During harvesting operations, local communities and forest neighbours might notice increased traffic on roads associated with the haulage of sawlogs, and some dust, noise and smoke.

We are mindful of the impacts on local communities and consider safety, community needs, environmental aspects such as soil and water quality, biosecurity and fire risk in our harvest planning and forest management activities.

Regeneration

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We regenerate the forest after every harvesting operation. Jarrah seeds are left to regenerate naturally, and karri seeds are collected from fallen tree branches.

The karri capsules are dried in hothouses at the FPC nursery and seed centre for a few days before the seeds are extracted.

The seeds are sown in December and grow for seven or eight months before the seedlings are packed and transported for planting.

Following harvest of karri plantations, the site is prepared for planting in winter. Around 450 hectares of native forest karri and jarrah is regenerated; karri is planted by hand and jarrah regenerates naturally.

Native forest industry and products

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The native forest industry supports the employment of more than 800 people in Western Australia and injects more than $220 million into the economy each year.

The industry is a key economic and environmental driver, providing:

  • renewable, beautiful wood products,
  • jobs and investment in regional communities,
  • space for community and industry groups to engage in forest activities, and
  • support for the habitat of native flora and fauna.

The main species used for timber production are jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) which are renowned for their strength and durability.

A small quantity of marri (Corymbia calophylla), blackbutt (Eucalyptus patens), sheoak (Allocasuarina fraseriana) and wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) is also utilised.

These species are highly valued for their beautiful characteristics and unique properties in applications such as high-quality furniture, flooring, cabinetry, decking and joinery.

As well as having the reassurance that our native forests are sustainably managed for future generations to enjoy, consumers can be confident that buying Western Australian timber products supports local manufacturing and local communities.

Page reviewed 30 September 2020