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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 4

I Management Of Native Forests

II Plantations-high Productivity Resources

III Protecting The Resource

IV Harvesting The Resource

V Solid Wood And Its Processing

VI Minor Forest Products

VII Reconstituted Wood Products

VIII Pulp And Paper

IX Export Woodchips

X Future Directions

XI Acknowledgements



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Future Directions

Consumption projections for Australia indicate that paper and paperboard will show continued strong growth but there are differing views on the other major forest product, sawn timber, the future consumption of which is strongly dependent on the nature and extent of domestic housing construction. There is, however, general agreement that there will be a continuing shortfall in the availability of sawlogs and a surplus of pulp-wood through to the year 2000. Over 60 per cent of the available wood will then be plantation pine. Thereafter the contribution from this resource will continue to increase, the imbalance between sawlogs and pulpwood will tend to be redressed and the local wood availability will become progressively more dependent on the extent of new plantings and any further withdrawal of native forests from timber production.

Pine plantation development is still continuing at a significant rate with much new planting being done to extend existing resources to improve scale factor in utilization. Second rotation establishment is becoming more widespread as plantations reach an age at which they can be clear-felled for sawlog production. In the native forests there may be some continuing loss of productive resource to national parks and other reserves but more efforts will be made to compensate for this by intensive management of designated timber production areas and by substituting available native species for those whose use has been restricted. In both the pine plantations and timber production native forests the need to maintain site productivity after clear-felling should lead to further improvements in the methods employed for site preparation and the retention of soil structure and nutrients.

Because of growing awareness of the values of forests there will also be increasing activity in afforestation, primarily for purposes other than timber production, in particular to rehabilitate environmentally degraded areas, (for example those affected by dry-land salinity), to enhance landscape values and to improve the efficiency of rural enterprises through agro-forestry, the integration of timber production with animal husbandry or cropping. For afforestation programs generally more use will probably be made of vegetative methods to produce the stock required and the application of the rapidly developing methods of plant biotechnology is likely to lead to even greater control of desirable characteristics.

The forest products industries will have to adapt to the ongoing change in their resource base, as well as to a new economic climate which emphasizes their need to be world-competitive. Increasing dependence on plantation pines should not present major processing problems as the appropriate technology is already well-known. It will, however, further stimulate the development of profitable uses for thinnings as well as improved methods for the control of fire and disease. The scarcity of available mature eucalypts will require further refinement of the sawing and processing methods appropriate for younger trees and encourage greater interest in technologies such as lamination and Scrimber which can produce large sections from small diameter wood. Where suitable mature eucalypts are available they may become increasingly sought after for higher value products such as veneers and furniture timbers, for export as well as domestic markets.

The increased availability of pine pulpwood has already enabled the pulp and paper industry to increase self-sufficiency significantly in newsprint and unbleached long-fibre kraft pulp production. Further import replacement projects may also be undertaken when economic indicators are favourable, to produce for example, light weight coated printing papers, fluid packaging paperboards or bleached pine chemical pulp. Regional rationalization with New Zealand under the Closer Economic Relationship may be an important consideration in the planning of some of these and other projects to increase our self-sufficiency in forest products.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 245 - 246, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher