Bridging the Gap: Australia’s Sawnwood Deficit to 2050

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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. A recent report by IndustryEdge, for Forest & Wood Products Australia shows that by taking immediate action to establish new softwood plantations, Australia can mitigate the risk and increase its sovereign supply capability for its most critical and sustainable building resource.

The report finds that 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, commencing immediately.

Ultimately, a continuing role for imports and an expanded softwood plantation estate and domestic production must each be part of the solution that will see Australia bridge the current gap between constrained local production capacity and future demand.

These are important considerations because plantations established today will not yield the bulk of their wood until very close to 2050.

The report can be downloaded here.

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