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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.

The Forest and Wood Products industry is a significant employer and contributor to the regional economy. Excluding log haulage drivers and timber retailers, the industry included 12,852 businesses and directly employed more than 42,600 people in 2016. Total sales turnover of the Forestry and Manufacturing sectors was $17.9 billion in 2016, an increase of 15% ($2.2 billion) over two consecutive years. The industry has developed a preference for short, nationally accredited courses over full qualifications, and businesses invest in a significant amount of informal or non-accredited training to upskill the workforce

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. 

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 2018 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 2018. Employment levels in these industry subsectors are not expected to increase to any extent up until 2023.

There were over 2,100 program enrolments in the Forest and Wood Products Training Package during 2017 and approximately 240 completions. Program enrolments remained fairly stable between 2014 and 2016, however decreased sharply in 2017. Program completions decreased by over half between 2014 and 2017. There has been an increase in subject-only enrolments (no qualification) from approximately 7,700 during 2014, to nearly 14,000 in 2017.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Forest and Wood Products IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast highlights anticipating future skills needs as 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:

  • trends and/or estimates of workforce supply, skill shortages, employment growth or growing occupations
  • future changes in workplace and job design which are driven by innovation at the business and/or industry level as a result of economic, technological, social and environmental factors, as well as the introduction of new policies and legislation.

The above Skills Forecast identified skills that support a range of new forest-harvesting operations and technologies, timber value and volume recovery in sawmills. The high demand and current requirements of estimating and design capabilities in timber truss and frame manufacturing are also top priority skills for the industry.

The Skills Forecast also reports skills shortages include growing demand for workers with specialised skills, such as Specialist Engineers, Scientists and Mechanics, and Mobile and Fixed-Plant Operators, with a need 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 a problematic area for many businesses in the regions.

For more information on priority skill needs specific to each Forestry and Wood Products industry sector please visit the Forestry and Timber Processing and Products sector pages.

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 Forest Contractors Association (AFCA)

Australian Forest Growers (AFG)

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA)

Australian Furniture Association (AFA)

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)

Furnishing Industry Association of Australia (FIAA)

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 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)


Employee associations

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing


Relevant research

Industry review 2016 Victorian Association of Forest Industries

Next generation timber harvesting systems: opportunities for remote controlled and autonomous machinery Forest & Wood Products 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)

Western Australia plantations: the missing piece of the puzzle Forest Industries Federation WA

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:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Forest and Wood Products IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 10 Sep 2019
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