Wood - good for people and the planet
The Australian forestry industry as a whole is committed to sustainable growth. Most Australian-sourced timber is covered by either Responsible Wood or FSC® certification systems that ensure wood has been produced in an environmentally responsible manner. Nationwide, more than 70 million seedlings are planted each year by Australia’s plantation owners, while native forest managers renew their forests through natural or artificial reseeding.
The forest and wood products sector makes significant economic and social contributions to the economy and to many regional and rural towns across the nation, generating $24 billion a year. Forest industries provide direct employment for 80,000 people, and indirect employment for 100,000 people throughout Australia, mostly in rural and regional areas.
As well as providing employment for regional communities and supporting local suppliers, contractors and mills, the timber industry plays a key role in protecting native forests, fire protection, and providing recreational space in the great outdoors.
Economic and social benefits of forestry
There are almost two million hectares of plantation forests in Australia, producing over 85% of all harvested timber each year. Expert plant selection and breeding and the use of intensive and innovative forest management techniques help to ensure the continued flow of high-quality and competitively priced timber products.
Plantation forests also play an important environmental role by contributing to improved soil, water quality and salinity and erosion mitigation, providing habitats for native flora and fauna species, and countering climate change by absorbing and storing 258 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Not only is using wood as a building material good for the economy and the planet, but it’s good for people, too – research has shown that using wood in the interior of a building can produce great benefits for our health and wellbeing, similar to spending time outside in nature.
In Queensland alone, the forest and timber industry is worth almost $4 billion, which includes forest growing, wood product manufacturing, pulp and paper. The main resource types used by the forest and timber industry in Queensland are HQP’s Southern Pine and Araucaria softwoods.
Australia’s plantation forest industry harvests just 3 trees out of 100 each year on average, then plants approximately 70 million trees each year to replace them (10 million by HQP). This ensures the industry remains sustainable and our environment is preserved for future generations.
Benefits of using sustainable wood
Growing trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in the form of carbon, purifying the air we breathe and directly combatting climate change. Up to 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon.
Carbon stored in wood is only released back to the atmosphere when the wood product is burnt or decays.
Just one cubic metre of timber absorbs about 230 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere, and releases 160 kg of oxygen. Across Queensland, there are approximately 56 million hectares of forest, storing more than 2 billion tonnes of carbon - about 12 times Queensland’s annual CO2 emissions.
The combination of carbon stored in growing trees and in timber products represents a significant carbon sink for Australia. Just one typical Australian home, made up of approximately 12 m³ of sawn timber, stores almost three tonnes of carbon.
While there is a limit to how much carbon a forest can absorb, trees that are harvested from plantation forests free up space for new trees to grow and absorb more carbon, effectively maintaining a permanent pool of carbon storage.
Wood has the lowest embodied energy of all common building materials, meaning less energy is used in the production and processing of wood than other materials. Embodied energy includes the extraction and processing of raw materials, along with manufacturing, transport and product delivery processes.
This embodied energy is usually sourced from fossil fuels. As a general rule, converting one cubic metre of a solid material like concrete or brick for a cubic metre of timber will eliminate approximately one tonne of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.
With its lighter carbon footprint, using timber in place of concrete, brick or steel can significantly lower the embodied energy of a built environment. It’s estimated that maximising wood use in both residential and commercial construction could remove up to 19 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually – the equivalent of taking 4.4 million cars off the road each year.
Wood helps to reduce the cost – and the energy expenditure – of heating and cooling a building, as the air pockets within its cellular structure act as a natural insulator.
As an insulator, wood is estimated to be 15 times better than masonry and concrete, 400 times better than steel and 1,770 times better than aluminium.
It’s also hygroscopic, and has the ability to exchange moisture with the surrounding air, providing a buffer against short-term humidity and temperature changes.
An exceedingly durable material, timber can last hundreds of years when properly maintained. When designed with regard for local climate, wind and seismic activity, wood buildings can withstand both time and the elements, surpassing requirements for fire safety, seismic performance and wind resistance.
Using wood as a building material isn’t just good for the health of the planet – it’s good for our personal wellbeing, too.
Research has shown that the use of wood in the interior of a building can produce physiological and psychological benefits similar to spending time outside in nature. Wood, Wellbeing and Performance: The Human and Organisational Benefits of Wood Buildings, by workplace performance and wellness expert Graham Lowe, PhD, explains that the feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits have the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing positive social interactions and improving corporate image.
The timber produced sustainably and responsibly at HQP and the wider industry can be used for a wide variety of end products, including framing, flooring and decking, internal and external beams, furniture, joinery, secondary products like pallets, crates, wood chip and paper, and even specialty products like musical instruments. You can learn more about the species we grow and their uses here.
Learn more about sustainable timber
There are a number of campaigns and industry bodies dedicated to raising awareness of timber as a renewable material. For more information, visit: