Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 30, 2023


Forestry Industry

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (15:59): Supplementary: is the minister concerned about a potential decline or lack of supply of timber across South Australia?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (16:00): I'm very keen that we continue to try to supplement the supply of timber. When we are looking at things like radiata pine, which of course is the main structural timber in South Australia, what we needed to do was plant more trees 30 years ago. However, that is not something that any of us here have had any opportunity to effect, but what we can do is look at what we are able to do in terms of either increasing plantations or even perhaps, more importantly, given the constraints that exist, how we can better utilise the plantation areas that we have.

Some of the exciting research that I referred to in an earlier question today, as well as other research, is all about how we can get better outcomes in terms of production capacity from our existing plantation areas. In some ways, some of those things include, for example, better tree genetics, and I mentioned Tree Breeding Australia and some of the amazing work that they have done over the years and that they are continuing to do. That is about how we can maximise the value of the timber that is used.

There have been remarkable advancements in the recent decade in terms of being able to maximise the value of every part of the tree. That is important in terms of utilising the resource that we have, which we know is a scarce resource. There are many other research projects, as well as currently, of course, looking at opportunities to increase small-scale plantations on farm, and the project—which was also a Malinauskas Labor government commitment—of Trees on Farms, which is progressing.

That is about, amongst other things, really being able to quantify the benefits to farmers to have small plantations but also to ensure that they have an opportunity to then not only have those plantations managed over what is the very long time period necessary—30 years, roughly—as well as then have an appropriate opportunity to have that resource processed by a processor.

They are some of the issues that have existed in the past when there have been programs to try to increase planation areas or, indeed, to have trees in areas that are not being run by commercial foresters. That is a barrier and a challenge and it's something that we are continuing to address through the Trees on Farms Initiative. Other aspects of that is to be able to communicate with farmers in a way that is reliable and credible, and the potential opportunities around carbon, if they are incorporating small-scale plantation trees on their farming properties.

I am really delighted that there are so many different avenues that we have to be able to support the forestry industry. It is something that the Malinauskas Labor government is very committed to, and I look forward to continuing to update the chamber on the various initiatives as they continue to evolve.