Currently five out of six trees harvested in Victoria are from plantations.
Victoria has 382,600 hectares of plantations. It is the biggest plantation estate in Australia with 22% of the national estate.
Victoria produces around one quarter of Australia’s plantation grown wood. The industry generates an average of $500 million in value per year and has the largest export volume at around 5.3 million m³ per year.
Most of the softwood processing sector in Victoria use radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
Radiata pine is versatile and fast growing. It produces a range of wood products including structural sawn timber for buildings, plywood and paper and packaging. Growing radiata pine is efficient and comes with very little wasted timber, as all parts of the log have a use.
Hardwood plantations in Victoria are mainly grown for pulpwood export. In 2020-21 Victoria produced 31% of hardwood pulpwood in Australia. There are also some areas of small-scale hardwood plantation grown for sawn timber production, often as farm forestry projects.
Economic growth and plantations
The Victorian plantation growing and processing sector is an important part of the state’s economy and supports regional jobs, growth and economies.
In 2015 the Victorian plantation and growing sector generated approximately $3.26 billion to the state’s economy. $2.5 billion of this came from softwood supply chains. The gross regional product from the Victorian plantation and processing sector was estimated at $1.4 billion.
Victorian Forestry Plan – Gippsland Plantations Investment Program
In 2019 the Victorian Government announced the Victorian Forestry Plan to stop harvesting in State Forests by 2030.
The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program (GPIP) is part of the government’s commitment to grow more plantations.
The Victorian Government has partnered with HVP Plantations to invest $120 million to plant 16 million trees over the next 10 years.
HVP Plantations is one of the largest private plantation forestry companies in Australia and will match the government funds.
More than 14,000 hectares of softwood plantations will be planted over the next 5 to 10 years under the program.
GPIP will create more than 100 new jobs through the seedling production, planting and caring for the plantations. It will also support at least 900 direct processing jobs in Gippsland and an estimated 900 flow-on jobs.
GPIP has the potential to bring new global-scale processors to the Gippsland region and boost the state’s production of much needed building products. This will support Victoria’s growing population and protect construction timber supply from future shocks over the long-term.
The GPIP will also contribute to the state’s emissions reduction targets by sequestering approximately 7.8 million tonnes of C02e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over the next 25 years. This is equal to removing approximately 60,000 cars from the road per year.
New GPIP plantations are not intended to replace native timber tree for tree. They will not be ready when native timber volume reduces in 2024 or when harvesting ends in 2030.
The GPIP has been designed to take into account Gippsland’s:
- valuable agricultural activities
- community expectations
- regional concerns about land prices
- water constraints
- fire risk.
Gippsland Plantations Investment Program Frequently Asked Questions
The Gippsland Plantations Investment Program (GPIP) market process was a rigorous and multi-phased process.
HVP was selected as the successful grant recipient based on high ratings with respect to all assessment criteria including reputation and capabilities and value for money. HVP’s excellent track record and its additional GPIP commitments to community engagement and economic development were also considered favourably by the assessment panel.
One option available to HVP to assemble the GPIP estate is to enter leasehold arrangements with existing landowners. Any interested parties looking to lease or sell land should email HVP Plantations at firstname.lastname@example.org and include as the subject GPIP: Land.
The GPIP is also complemented by a $10 million Farm Forestry program being led by VicForests.
The Farm Forestry program has been developed to maximise the potential for local landowners to contribute to new timber supply streams to support local industry through landowners creating new or alternative revenue streams that can be integrated into their existing agricultural businesses.
VicForests’ assessment of applications for a farm forestry 'demonstration sites' grant program is currently underway, and further opportunities under this program will become available over time.
The GPIP plantings will begin to produce pulplogs from 2037 onwards and higher value sawlog from approximately 2047 when the trees reach the appropriate size to produce sawlogs for harvest.
Crown land plantings delivered by VicForests are expected to reach harvestable age from 2032.
Tree-growing is a long-term activity. The GPIP plantings will be progressively established and managed on a multi-thinned regime to produce a range of log products harvested from 2037 to 2060.
We are investing more than $200 million under the Victorian Forestry Plan to support affected communities, businesses and workers to adapt their business or transition to new business and employment opportunities that come from economic diversification.
We are supporting businesses that currently work with native forest products to adapt their business to be able to process plantation-grown logs, or to evolve into new processing or manufacturing businesses that they identify as feasible and attractive.
There is already a strong take up of this support and evidence of different and innovative thinking within Victoria’s timber industry.
The new GPIP plantings will be focused on softwood timber.
This is due to softwood being more suited to Gippsland’s growing conditions and more versatile in terms of end products generated and markets to access.
Softwood pulpwood is also utilised in the production of packaging, a key area of increased demand, and softwood sawlog production will boost the state’s supplies of much needed pine plantation building products for our growing population; protecting construction timber supply from future shocks over the long-term.
The $10 million VicForests Farm Forestry program is investigating the use of longer-rotation hardwood species through farm forestry.
Yes, the sawlogs produced from the GPIP estate will help to protect construction timber supply from future shocks over the long-term and the prioritisation of domestic processing of the GPIP logs ensures local industry and consumers benefit from the program.
Plantations are purpose grown for timber production and already supply 86 percent of Victoria’s log volumes including for the construction industry.
Softwood plantations generate different log products at different times in their lifecycle. Harvesting of trees for the purpose of thinning occurs from around age 12 to 15 with further thins possible before clear-felling at around 25-32 years of age. Native harvesting on the other hand takes significantly longer to produce fibre.
Softwood pine plantations also do not provide habitat for Greater Gliders, Leadbeater’s Possums and koalas.
The specific locations of plantations will be based on land that becomes available to HVP for purchase.
The GPIP includes practical measures to ensure plantation development activities are sensitive to, and integrated within, the broader agricultural landscape. Constraints on how much land can be bought in a Local Government Area per year are in place to limit the amount of land that can be purchased and encourage plantings to be spread out in the region.
HVP can also not plant in the Macalister Irrigation District, which has had significant government investment in water infrastructure.
Plantations incentivised under the GPIP will be planted on private land due to the lack of suitable crown land available for new plantations.
HVP will be responsible for the acquisition of land to deliver the GPIP. Freehold land purchase, leasehold arrangements and farm forestry arrangements are all eligible approaches to plantation development under the grant arrangement.
No. Native vegetation is protected under state and federal laws and clearing of native vegetation for the purpose of conversion to timber plantations is not permitted .
VicForests is delivering a farm forestry program in partnership with the Victorian Government. This program aims to see how farm forestry can increase the supply of plantation timber while benefitting private land holders and the community. More information is available at VicForests Farm Forestry Program.
Latrobe Valley Crown Land Plantations
VicForests has established around 500,000 native blue gum seedlings at five crown land sites near Maryvale in the Latrobe Valley and established a pine plantation site on freehold land at Stradbroke.
Crown land plantings are expected to reach harvestable age from 2032.
Page last updated: 23 December 2022