MRFH’s Economist Diana Gibbs – Executive Summary
On current trajectories, Australia faces the prospect of being consistently unable to meet demand for new housing, because of a persistent and growing gap between demand and supply of sawn softwood timber, in particular. By no later than 2050, Australia will have:
• A population between 33.62 and 39.97 million people
• New housing demand around 259,000 dwellings per annum
• 5.175 million additional households whose demography will demand a marginally different housing mix to the current distribution of housing formats
• Sawn softwood demand of 6.507 million m3 per annum – almost 2.0 million m3 per annum higher than 2021
• Local sawn softwood production static at between 3.600 and 3.800 million m3 per annum due to constraints on sawlog supply
• An Implied Gap between demand and local production of 2.638 million m3 per annum, equivalent to 40.5% of total demand
To bridge the Implied Gap, Australia could establish as much as 468,000 hectares of additional softwood plantations.
250,000 house frames short by 2035 – new report confirms looming cliff without new plantings
Australia’s housing construction sector faces a serious timber supply gap by mid-century if the nation doesn’t move quickly to implement the billion new production trees plan, a new Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) report has found.
The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Master Builders Australia (MBA) says the final report released this week reveals the demand for new housing will rise from an average of 183,000 new dwellings per annum to an average of 259,000 per annum by 2050, driving huge demand for timber. To bridge the supply gap, Australia needs to meet the One Billion New Production Trees goal and not rely on vastly increased imports to fill the gap.
AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said, “International demand for timber continues to surge as governments demand more timber in buildings and fibre to replace plastics to meet laudable climate goals. This is a good thing but will make it even harder to source imports to fill our own expanding timber demands.
“Australia has vast areas of land suitable for timber production, yet our plantation estate has been stagnant – and has even been going backwards in some places – for the last two decades. That has to be reversed and there is no time to lose. Forest industries look forward to working quickly with the Albanese Government to commence the rollout of the $86 million committed during the election campaign as the first tranche of funding required to get seedlings into the ground.”
Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, “The severe timber shortages experienced by the industry have put a huge strain on thousands of building and construction businesses and contributed to the inflationary pressures that our industry has been experiencing for many months. The case for increasing the supply of locally grown timber is compelling and will remain so even as COVID related supply chain disruption eases. It’s a move that will support jobs and economic activity in the nation’s residential building sector.”