Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

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 industry includes approximately 13,230 forestry and manufacturing businesses and 1,071 timber wholesalers, who employ close to 120,000 people across the entire industry value chain. The industry is a major employer in regional Australia and uses its own resources to develop the skills of its employees adding to Australia’s skill development efforts.

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 Management and Harvesting IRC/Timber and Wood Processing IRC/Timber Building Solutions IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017-2020.

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, and Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling have fluctuated significantly between 2000 and 2017. Employment in the Wood Product Manufacturing industry sector has trended downwards over the same period.

There were over 3,600 program enrolments in the Forest and Wood Products Training Package during 2016 and approximately 340 completions. Enrolment numbers remained fairly stable between 2014 and 2016 however and completion numbers have decreased over the same period. There has also been an increase in subject-only (no qualification) enrolments from approximately 7,700 during 2014 to over 10,500 in 2016.


Industry insights on skills needs

The Forest Management and Harvesting IRC/Timber and Wood Processing IRC/Timber Building Solutions IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017-2020 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 Industry skills scan 2015 by the ForestWorks Industry Skills Council (Australia) reports that due to a significant loss of workforce and their skills during recent years there is a need for increased skills development activities in specific industry areas and regions where demand for timber products has improved. The report identifies the following priority skills for the Forest and Wood Products industry workforce development:

  • wood science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • advanced technical skills
  • advanced digital and analytical skills
  • strategic leadership skills
  • increased capacity to work with developing economies
  • research and development skills.

The report also highlights that traditional skill shortages/skills gaps for industry-specific job roles (including forester, manual chainsaw harvester, wood machinist and timber drying kiln operator) continue to exist in some regions. In addition there are also challenges in attracting trade professionals such as mechanics, electricians and truck and other mobile equipment drivers to the industry particularly in remote geographical areas.

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) National

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)

Glued Laminated Timber Association of Australia (GLTAA)

Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA)

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

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

Blueprint for the future South Australian forest and wood products industry (2014-2040) - South Australian Forest Industry Advisory Board

Industry review 2016 - Victorian Association of Forest Industries

Industry skills scan 2015 - ForestWorks Industry Skills Council (Australia)

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, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2022.

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

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 7 February 2018 <>

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2017, 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.

For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Updated: 11 Oct 2018
To Top