Forests are important to our ecological, economic and social wellbeing. They provide wood and non-wood products, recreational opportunities and other non-market goods and services such as water and clean air.

Australian forests make an important contribution to our economy through supporting regional communities involved in resource-use and extractive industries; as well we export $2.5 billion worth of wood products annually (DAFF, 2012). Forests further provide excellent opportunities for recreation and tourism. In fact, more people visit our forests for recreation than for any other purpose.

They also perform important environmental functions, such as protecting the health of our water catchments, and providing habitats for plant and animal species, thereby playing a vital role in the conservation of biodiversity.

Forests can have considerable indigenous and cultural heritage values. They are used for education, and their aesthetic values are also highly valued.

The provision of clean water, conversion of carbon dioxide (atmospheric carbon) into wood (stored carbon) through the process of photosynthesis (carbon sequestration), and the maintenance of fertile soils that support healthy and productive ecosystems are critical processes performed by our forests.

The community expects its forest ecosystems to be protected for current and future generations to enjoy, while continuing to provide sustainably derived products such as wood for construction and furniture, reconstituted products like paper, and even food sources such as honey.  Finding a balance between these multiple uses, while sustaining and conserving forests for the future, is the basis of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).

Social and Economic Contribution

Forests provide many social and economic benefits to the communities that regularly interact with them, particularly regional and indigenous communities.

Forests can contribute to sustainable economic growth as well as community development. For example, forests near residential areas provide our large and growing urban population with opportunities for spiritual renewal and strengthening. Within urban areas, forests are planted by community groups to transform degraded areas, reduce wind and noise, and help improve air quality. While in rural regions, farmers plant trees to provide livestock with shelter and to stabilise and improve degraded agricultural land.

Forests have been found to improve the well-being of those who use them for recreation and relaxation. Added benefits can come from observing wildlife and flora in natural habitats.

Forestry also helps to conserve Australia’s rich cultural heritage. This includes helping protect remnant rainforests, old growth forests, and protected area forests that include archaeological and aboriginal sacred sites.

Products from trees

Wood and timber harvested from native forests and plantations can be used for many purposes, including house construction, infrastructure (e.g. bridges and railways), fencing, heating fuel, and fibre for paper-making.

High quality timber from our native forests is highly prized by furniture makers and as hardwood flooring and decking.

Woodchips are a by-product of timber harvesting in native forests and plantations, and are sought after both locally and internationally for use in high quality paper products. The majority of our current eucalypt plantations are being purpose-grown for woodchips using species selected especially for their high fibre yield and suitability for pulping as the base ingredient in paper manufacturing.

While other building materials can provide shelter, warmth and comfort, none are renewable like wood.  Once trees are harvested, the same areas can be replanted and new trees grown. Other resources, such as clay for bricks, iron ore for steel, or bauxite for aluminium require a much greater energy input to transform them from raw material to usable products.  Compared to these other common building materials, timber not only stores carbon, but it embodies much less energy in its processing and manufacture. In Australia, 6.4% or 9.4 million hectares of public native forest is classified production forest where harvesting is permitted (DAFF, 2012).

Wood is not the only useful product that can be obtained from trees; the leaves can provide chemicals with useful medicinal properties, while the flowers and fruit produce seed which can be used for land rehabilitation and revegetation, or even food in some cases.

Recreation and tourism

Forests also provide a broad range of opportunities for recreation and tourism in a variety of settings. These opportunities range from high visitation sites with significant infrastructure and accommodation facilities, to remote sites that may only be accessible via walking tracks.

State forests cater for a broader range of recreational opportunities than are available in most National Parks, including  horse riding, dog walking, hunting, mountain biking and rally car driving . National Parks generally provide for lower impact nature-based tourism such as bush walking. Many of our Parks and State forest areas make an important contribution to nature-based tourism, with significant potential for further growth in commercial tour operations. 15.6% or 23 million hectares of native forest is in nature conservation reserves(DAFF, 2012).

Cultural, social and spiritual needs and values

The social and cultural values provided by our forests are generally intangible, as they relate to the personal enjoyment of being among the trees. Indigenous people have close ties to their land and forests are integral to expressing their cultural, social and spiritual values. For non-indigenous Australians there are also many places of significance located in forest areas.

Employment and community needs

The number of direct and indirect jobs provided by the forestry sector is vital to the future of many regional towns. The timber industry is often a major employer in rural areas and integral to the long-term viability of regional communities. These regions often have processing and manufacturing businesses based on value-adding logs into sawn timber and products like fibre board and pulp for paper manufacturing.

In addition, indirect employment includes suppliers of services to the industry (fuel, mechanical repairs and contractors) and the flow-on businesses and services such as doctors, and schools that serve any economically-viable community.

Forests are living, they are renewable, and provide a wide range of benefits to all who interact with them.  A tree can be harvested and a new tree grown in its place in the space of a single human lifetime.  The sustainable management of our forests is aimed at ensuring there are enough resources for our generation, while laying the foundations for future generations.

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Australian forest profiles fact sheet

Detailed information on the state of Australian forests.

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Cultural values of forests

Some of the cultural values of forests.

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Economic values of forests

Some of the economic values of forests.

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Employment fact sheet

The management and use of Australia’s native and planted forests generate substantial employment, helping to sustain many regional economies. Find out more on careers within the industry.

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Finding the Balance in Forest Management

This resources covers topics including wood as a resource, native forest management, forest uses and forests in the future.

Fire fact sheet

Fire has been a feature of Australian forests for thousands of years. Find out moer about the challenges and management of forest fires.

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Forest Photos

Different photos of forestry and the industry.

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Forestry Matters!

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

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Forests global scene

World harvesting, world timber production and the Kyoto protocol.

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Getting involved

Find out how about the number of ways in which you can help preserve South Australia’s precious
native forests.

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Having fun in forests

South Australia’s forest reserves are important places for a variety of community activities.  Find out about the forest reserves in South Australia.

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Local trees for biodiversity in South East South Australia

This is a fact sheet about how local tree species benefit biodiversity

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Managing biodiversity in Victoria's native forests

An important part of sustainably managing Victoria’s forests is ensuring the protection of biological diversity, including threatened species and their habitat. Find out more.

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Managing timber production in WA's forests

Read more about the management of WA's timber industry.

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Native timber harvesting in Central Highlands

VicForests’ Central Highlands region covers more than five million hectares across the central, north-east and south-east part of Victoria.  Find out more.

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Rainforest fact sheet

Find out more about Australian rainforests and their uses.

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Regenerating Victoria's forests

Did you know that VicForests re-seeds and replants trees in all areas where harvesting takes place to ensure the forest grows back? Find out more.

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Social values of forests

Some of the social values and uses of forests.

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South West native forests in Western Australia - an overview

An overview of Western Australia's native forest resource in the south west produced by the Forest Products Commission. It highlights the sustainable harvesting program, being less than 1% of the total 2.25 million hectares annually, followed by replanting. The significant benefits of using this renewable resource includes employment, wood supply, forest health, carbon capture and energy efficiency.  

Value of trees

Factsheet covering the benefits of trees and forests.

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Victoria's native timber industry

Find out more about Victoria's native timber industry.

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Warra Long Term Ecological Research site:Part A

Find out about the Warra Long Term Ecological Research site in Tasmania.

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Warra Long Term Ecological Research site: Part B

Find out about the Warra Long Term Ecological Research site in Tasmania.

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Water mangement in native forests and plantations

This factsheet discusses Forest Hydrology.

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Water quality and supply issues

Forests have an important role in maintaining water quality and protecting soil from erosion.

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A closer look at rainforests- Worksheet

A factsheet and worksheet to help students explore questions around rainforests. 

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Adventure Time

Colour and post your own postcard.

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Biodiversity is…

Biodiversity is defined, as well as food chains and food webs.

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Cumberland Forest Adventure self guided excursion plans and activities

Planning an excursion to Cumberland Forest- this booklet is filled with self guided excursion plans and activities.

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Earth Alive by Planet Ark

Earth Alive is a 10 week actionbased science unit of work suitable for students in Years 5 & 6 focusing on authentic scientific investigation resulting in local action. The program investigates biodiversity in the school grounds and culminates in a Schools Tree Day planting action project.

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Forestry Matters!

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

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Forests and forestry in NSW facts and worksheet

Factsheet and worksheet to guide discussions around Forests and Forestry in NSW. 

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Going Bush - A biodiversity melting pot in Northern NSW - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet and sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video that looks at the biodiversity rich forests of Northern NSW. Students get to see how bat traps are used to survey species in the multi-aged native forests, and how these forests are used for multiple uses including timber production, recreation and biodiversity conservation.

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Going Bush - Various demand for plantation and native forests - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers that accompanies the Going Bush video 'Various demand for plantation and native forests'. Different uses for the wood sourced from these forests is discussed, as well as wood properties. The demand for wood in Australia is higher than the regulated supply, meaning imported wood is necessary. This raises various issues that students can begin to contemplate. 

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In a rainforest – biodiversity colour-in sheet

Colour in and discover all about NSW rainforests.

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Planet Ark - Schools Tree day

Each year in July, around 2500 schools across Australia take part in Schools Tree Day. Students nation-wide have learnt how to plant, and care for the seedlings they grow. Become involved.

Plan it - planning fun activities in state forests

State forests offer the perfect location for fun activities in your relaxation time. Some planning is
necessary to make sure that you have an enjoyable and safe time. This activity helps students to do this.

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Ready, set, wildfire - preparing for the fire season

October through to March is  called the 'fire season' because it is a hot and dry time of the year.  This activity helps students to understand wildfire and prepare for fire season.

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Timber harvesting in native State forests- Factsheet and Worksheet

A combined fact and work sheet for students to explore questions relating to timber harvesting in native State forests.

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What do Forest Ecologists do?

Find out what forest ecologists do through this fun interview.

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What's a forest to me?

The United Nations announced 2011 as the International Year of Forests. This means that in 2011 people around the world will be celebrating forests and thinking about how we use them, what they provide for us and how we can look after them for the future. This worksheet will help you think more about what a forest means to you.

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Wild Forest Adventure Activity Book

Wild Forest Adventure is an activity based companion booklet especially designed for use with the Forests NSW website.

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Wild Forest Adventure online game

The Wild Forest Adventure section has been especially designed for students, to provide interesting and relevant information about the forest environment, in a stimulating and fun way.

Wintry warmers

Explore winter in NSW forests.

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Forestry Matters! website

Forestry matters! is a free, comprehensive education resource that provides teachers with relevant,  up-to-date information about South Australia’s forests.

Planet Ark - Schools Tree day

Each year in July, around 2500 schools across Australia take part in Schools Tree Day. Students nation-wide have learnt how to plant, and care for the seedlings they grow. Become involved.

Planet Ark's Make It Wood - Do Your World Some Good

This website developed by Planet Ark provides a wealth of information regarding sustainably sourced timber.

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Going Bush - A biodiversity melting pot in Northern NSW - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet and sample answers to accompany the Going Bush video that looks at the biodiversity rich forests of Northern NSW. Students get to see how bat traps are used to survey species in the multi-aged native forests, and how these forests are used for multiple uses including timber production, recreation and biodiversity conservation.

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Going Bush - Forestry benefits to the community

Nick and Andrew head to Victoria to discuss the benefits the Forestry industry bring to the community. They discover how the industry provides 24,000 jobs and relies on nearly 50,000 jobs.

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Going Bush - Fuel Reduction Burn Part A

Nick and Andrew take to the forests in Scamander, where they learn about the impact of bushfire on the community, and how further disasters can be prevented.

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Going Bush - Fuel Reduction Burn Part B

Nick and Andrew look into the intricacies of fuel reduction burns, and how Forestry Tasmania plan and manage the burning process.

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Going Bush - Value adding

This series of 'Going Bush' presents valuable information on value adding to our native forest resource from harvesting, through processing the various grades of saw logs and defect wood, to end uses in high value flooring and furniture, and low value pulp wood and waste for paper and electricity production.

It highlights the valuable contribution the native forest industry makes to supplying hardwood solid timbers in Australia, and the importance of sustaining this industry into the future.

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Going Bush - Various demand for plantation and native forests - Worksheet & answers

Student worksheet with sample answers that accompanies the Going Bush video 'Various demand for plantation and native forests'. Different uses for the wood sourced from these forests is discussed, as well as wood properties. The demand for wood in Australia is higher than the regulated supply, meaning imported wood is necessary. This raises various issues that students can begin to contemplate. 

To download this file

Wild Forest Adventure online game

The Wild Forest Adventure section has been especially designed for students, to provide interesting and relevant information about the forest environment, in a stimulating and fun way.

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Forest management in Tasmania - The truth

Report highlighting the management of Tasmanian forests for multiple values, supported by a commitment to sustainable charter and certification process for harvested timber.

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South West native forests in Western Australia - an overview

An overview of Western Australia's native forest resource in the south west produced by the Forest Products Commission. It highlights the sustainable harvesting program, being less than 1% of the total 2.25 million hectares annually, followed by replanting. The significant benefits of using this renewable resource includes employment, wood supply, forest health, carbon capture and energy efficiency.  

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