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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Forestry sector, which is a component of the Forest and Wood Products industry. The Forestry sector comprises two sub-sectors:

  • Forest Growing and Management
  • Harvesting and Haulage.

The Forest Growing and Management sub-sector consists of businesses engaged in the management of commercial plantation estates, native forests and farm forests primarily for the production of wood and wood fibre. This sector includes the establishment of estates, access roads and management of fire breaks. Commercial forestry estate management is undertaken on behalf of state and territory governments and private forest owners.

The Harvesting and Haulage sub-sector includes all enterprises that harvest forests for timber products and pulpwood, rough-hewn products (mine timbers, posts and railway sleepers) and firewood. Forest harvest enterprises are normally commissioned by forest management companies (public and private). This sub-sector also includes businesses that haul or transport logs and other forest products, produce woodchips in the field or gather forest biomass.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required in the Forestry sector in occupations such as:

  • Forestry and Logging Workers
  • Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators
  • Agricultural and Forestry Scientists.

Nationally recognised training for the Forestry sector is delivered under the FWP – Forest and Wood Products Training Package.

For information on the Timber Processing and Products and Pulp and Paper Manufacturing sectors please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

In 2018 employment levels in the Forestry and Logging and Forestry Support Services, after fluctuating in the intervening years, returned to similar levels as those in 2000, and are projected to remain fairly stable over the next five years until 2023.

The three largest occupations as a proportion of the Forestry and Logging workforce are Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators (15%), Forestry and Logging Workers (15%) and Agricultural and Forestry Scientists (9%). Employment in the Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators and Agricultural and Forestry Scientists occupations are projected to increase somewhat over the next five years until 2023, however, employment in Forestry and Logging Workers is projected to decrease very slightly in the same period. Truck drivers also make up over 8% of the sector workforce with the employment level in this occupation projected to increase by a further 7% over the next five years.

Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers (Other) make up over 25% of the Forestry Support Services workforce with the occupation of Environmental Scientists accounting for a further 12%. Employment in both occupations is projected to increase over the coming five years until 2023, particularly for Environmental Scientists.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were close to 1,620 program enrolments in Forestry-related qualifications during 2018 and almost 380 completions. Both program enrolments and completions decreased between 2015 and 2017, however, increases have occurred for both between 2017 to 2018. During 2018, the majority of enrolments in qualifications were at a Certificate II or Certificate III level, with a Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management accounting for approximately 43% total enrolments and the Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage making up more than one third (35%). Forestry Worker was the main intended occupation for the training, followed by Logging Plant Operator.

The majority of training in Forestry-related qualifications in 2018 were delivered by private training providers (81%), with TAFE institutes accounting for a further 17%. Almost two thirds (63%) of subjects at private training providers were delivered through domestic fee-for-service arrangements, as opposed to TAFE institutes where around 67% of subjects were Commonwealth and state funded. Well over half of all students who enrolled during 2018 resided in either Victoria (27%) or Queensland (26%), with a further 16% from Tasmania.

As at December 2018, there were close to 180 apprenticeship commencements and 30 completions in Forestry-related qualifications. Commencement numbers declined significantly between 2010 and 2017 but have more than doubled from 2017 to 2018. Completion numbers for 2018 are significantly down from the peak of 150 in 2012 but are marginally up from 26 in 2017. All the apprentices undertaking qualifications at the certificate III level have the intended occupation of Logging Plant Operator. Tasmania reported more than half of the apprentices in training (52%), followed by Western Australia (25%) and South Australia (17%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The following generic skills were identified as top priority for the industry:

  • Technology use and application skills
  • Environmental and sustainability skills
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence.

A range of top priority industry and occupation skills were identified, including:

  • Information and communication technology skills
  • Middle management skills
  • High level financial skills
  • Specialised skills.

In addition, the below priority specialist skills have been highlighted in the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast as specific to the Forestry sector workforce over the next three to five years:

  • Skills in new harvesting technologies
  • Forest management innovation
  • Roundwood and wood chip export skills at the portside.

New harvesting technologies include the use of geospatial technologies in forest operations, programming skills for forest technicians and supervisors to create and manage harvesting optimisation files for single grip harvester, management of electrical risks related to electrical and hydraulic maintenance of harvesting machines, application of best practices to minimise environmental footprint of forest harvesting, machine operation for steep slope terrain harvesting (tethered harvesting and cable logging harvesting), machine operation for in-field wood chipping, and debarking of logs in the forest.

Forest management innovation includes mechanical forest biomass removal for minimising bushfire risks, management and safety in farm forests, specialty timber harvesting and extraction (single tree falling and extraction in isolated areas and use of chainsaw above ground) and tree breeding knowledge to enable effective communication with genetic engineers.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast details a variety of challenges and opportunities faced by the industry as a whole, including the following related to the Forestry sector:

  • Increased global population and urbanisation – A growing global population and China aiming to increase green buildings’ share of all new construction is increasing the global demand for wood products which in turn will challenge existing wood supply chains to be more strategic in using all parts of the tree or forest resource, require additional investments to expand productive forest estates and manage competition for agricultural land and water that are also essential for food production.
  • Transformative technologies – The integration of biotechnology, geospatial technology, robotics and automation into forestry, transport and logistics operations will provide benefits to the sector through improved tree characteristics, forest growth rates, log utilisation, process management, pest management, species’ climate adaptability and general value-add and productivity. Fragmented investment and a focus on upgrading existing technology are the main barriers to adopting new and emerging technologies in the sector.
  • Digitisation – Forestry and wood product companies have fallen behind many other industries in taking advantage of digital technologies, strong leadership and the development of digital skills and capabilities within an organisation are required to evolve existing operations into new business models.
  • Sustainability actions – Renewed state and territory government commitment to Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), these agreements provide an ongoing framework for the industry to implement effective forest conservation, forest management and industry practices, as well as supporting the long-term stability of the forest and processing sectors.
  • Climatic weather shifts – The implications of climate change and forest fires on the industry and its value chain mean highlight the importance of pursuing opportunities like biotechnology, implementing ‘best practice’ tree breeding, site selection, forest management and close interaction with emergency services, in order to reduce impacts on future forest productivity and resource supply.

The focus on transformative technologies and responding to climatic weather shifts brings about the growing demand for workers with specialised skills, as well as those in more traditional roles. As outlined in the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the key occupations in demand include specialist engineers, scientists and mechanics, and mobile and fixed-plant operators.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also identifies that attracting and recruiting young skilled people is becoming increasingly complex across the industry and across regional areas in general (as also highlighted in the 2018 Regional Skills Demand Profile: The Great South Coast). A range of specific issues make up this larger overarching challenge, including:

  • Younger skilled workers are looking to businesses that are active in personal and professional development, offer digital workplaces and flexible working conditions
  • An ageing workforce of Wood Machinists / Saw Technicians is placing pressure on the industry to recruit the next generation of skilled employees, requiring a review of how the industry engages with training and training organisations
  • Population churn in regional areas creates a fluid workforce and understanding local employment and regional competition are significant factors in considering skills demands and planning.

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)

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

ForestWorks

Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA)

Responsible Wood

Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association (TFCA)

Timber Communities Australia (TCA) National

Timber Development Association of NSW (TDA)

Timber NSW

Timber Preservers Association of Australia (TPAA)

Timber Queensland Ltd

Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)

 

Government bodies

National Timber Councils Association (NTCA)

Timber Towns Victoria

 

Employee associations

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing

 

Relevant research

Economic Potential for New Plantation Establishment in Australia – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Linden Whittle, Peter Lock and Beau Hug

Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast – Skills Impact

Growing a Better Australia: A Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Industry Review 2016 – Victorian Association of Forest Industries

Management and Utilisation of Forest Residues – Stage 1 and Stage 2 Report – Department of State Growth, Tasmania

Next Generation Timber Harvesting Systems: Opportunities for Remote Controlled and Autonomous Machinery – Forest & Wood Products Australia

The Djarlma Plan (WA Forestry Industry Development Plan) – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Western Australia Plantations: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle – Forest Industries Federation WA0

Wood Encouragement Policy for Western Australia – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2023
    • 030 Forestry and Logging
    • 051 Forestry Support Services
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 7211 Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators
    • 8413 Forestry and Logging Workers
    • 2341 Agricultural and Forestry Scientists
    • 7331 Truck Drivers
    • 7113 Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators
    • 8419 Other Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers
    • 2343 Environmental Scientists
    • 3622 Gardeners.

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 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 030 Forestry and Logging
    • 051 Forestry Support Services.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit industry and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce
    • 030 Forestry and Logging
    • 051 Forestry Support Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • FWP Forest and Wood Products Training Package
  • Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI20105 - Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI20111 - Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI20113 - Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management
    • FWP20116 - Certificate II in Forest Growing and Management
  • Certificate II in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI20211 - Certificate II in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI20213 - Certificate II in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FWP20216 - Certificate II in Harvesting and Haulage
  • Certificate III in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI30111 - Certificate III in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI30113 - Certificate III in Forest Growing and Management
    • FPI30199 - Certificate III in Forest & Forest Products (Forest Growing & Management)
    • FWP30116 - Certificate III in Forest Growing and Management
  • Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI30205 - Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI30211 - Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI30213 - Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FWP30216 - Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
  • Certificate IV in Forest Operations
    • FWP30216 - Certificate III in Harvesting and Haulage
    • FPI40105 - Certificate IV in Forest Operations
    • FPI40111 - Certificate IV in Forest Operations
    • FWP40116 - Certificate IV in Forest Operations.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

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 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 01 Nov 2019
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