• GVP $432 million est. Up 9% year-on-year.
  • Softwood production in 2021-22 was lower as the salvage harvesting program wound down.
  • Estimates of industry value added in 2021-22 increased 9% year on year to $3.3 billion for NSW.
At the time of publication, detailed industry information for 2022-23 is not available, consequently the following production and industry value added commentary is based on the 2021-22 financial year.


Log production in NSW fell 26% in 2021-22, with 4.76 million cubic metres harvested. 82 This was the lowest total production in twenty years, with wet weather and flooding hampering production. This was also a result of the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires, in which 25% of the softwood plantations managed by the Forestry Corporation of NSW were impacted. Some salvage harvesting continued in the 2021-22 financial year, but increased efforts were made for plantation establishment and repairs to road infrastructure. 89

Softwood log production in NSW was down 32% to 3.9 million cubic metres, hardwood plantation production was also 31% down to 206,000 cubic metres, while hardwood native log production increased 56% to 622,000 cubic metres. Hardwood native production remained below 2019-20 levels and significantly below the decade average.

The value of logs harvested was $396 million, down 13% on 2020-21. Softwood output fell 21%, with higher prices offsetting lower production. Total hardwood output increased 17%, mostly through hardwood native logs.

NSW had the second highest value of log production after Victoria ($616 million), with Tasmania ($380 million) and Western Australia ($348 million) the third and fourth highest value producers, respectively.

NSW is a key softwood producer, with the second highest value of softwood production. Total area harvested by Forestry Corporation was down 36% for softwood plantations, down to 12,640 hectares. 83 The area of clearfelled plantations was down 56% to 7,135 hectares, while the area that was thinned increased 60% to 5,504 hectares.

NSW was also the largest producer of saw and veneer logs, ahead of Victoria, with softwood saw and veneer log production at 1.9 million cubic metres. This was despite a 31% fall in production. China’s ban on Australian timber likely encouraged a switch to woodchip and pulp, as Australian pulplog production increased 3% in 2021-22.

Value of logs harvested by state, 2021-22 82

  • Hardwood
  • Softwood


Timber prices generally rose over 2021-22 and 2022-23, with supply shortages domestically and a recovery in the global economy. Residential building approvals were down since mid-2021 with rising interest rates and a slowdown in house price growth across the country.

In NSW, the implied value of timber from hardwood native forests was $138/m3 in 2021-22, the lowest level since 2017-18. However, the unit price of timber from NSW hardwood plantations reached a decade high of $118/m3. Softwood timber was higher in 2021-22, up to $72.5/m3, slightly above the 5-year average.

There was also mixed performance in Australia’s export prices for forestry products. Sawnwood prices rose in 2021-22, before falling 36% in 2022-23. Export prices for sawnwood peaked in the September 2021 quarter with COVID-related supply chain disruptions and strong international demand.

Woodchip export prices rose steadily over this period. Additional investment in pulp mills in China underpinned strong demand in 2022 and 2023.

World sawlog prices fell over 2022, after the World Sawlog Price Index reached a record level in the June quarter 2022. This was partly due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on Russia. 96

Australian Forestry Export Prices 35

  • Woodchips ($/tonne)
  • Wood in the rough ($/m3)
  • Sawnwood ($/m3)

Trade and Macroeconomic Conditions

Australian Timber Exports - Share of Total 35

  • Wood in the rough
  • Woodchips
Australian forestry exports increased 2.7% to $1.45 billion in 2022-23, despite having a Chinese import ban for Australian timber for most of the year. China only lifted its ban on Australian timber imports in May 2023. However, woodchip exports to China were still permitted. The growth in exports came from woodchips, with Australian exports increasingly dominated by the product. In 2016-17, woodchips accounted for 62% of Australian timber exports, increasing to 88% in 2022-23.

Midway reported that pulp and paper stocks at Chinese ports increased to 2 million tonnes, well above normal levels, due to the slowdown in global trading. 91 In turn, world pulp prices had fallen significantly and some export shipments from Australia to China were delayed.

Over the 2022 calendar year UN Comtrade data showed China was the largest importer of woodchips, with Japan the second largest importer. Australia is the second-largest exporter to these countries, after Vietnam. 125 Australia is a key supplier of woodchips to these markets for biomass or processing into paper products.

China woodchip imports by partner, 2022 125

Japan woodchip imports by partner, 2022 125

NSW exports were down 40% to $34.66 million in 2022-23, with the fall in timber logs and sawnwood. Exports from NSW is significantly lower than its peak of $181 million in 2019-20, with the extensive bushfires, economic slowdown from COVID, China’s ban on timber imports and strong domestic demand for timber contributing to the decline.

With state data on woodchip exports unavailable in 2022-23, wood in the rough was the largest contributor to forestry exports, at $24.8 million. Sawnwood exports were $8.9 million. Due to China’s ban on Australian timber, India was the largest market for NSW forestry products with a value of $14 million. South Korea was the second-largest export destination at $6.1 million, down significantly on 2021-22.


Employment and Value Added

In 2022-23, total employment in forestry and related industries was 14,900 in NSW, a 21% fall compared to 2021-22. 92 This was due to lower employment in manufacturing sectors, wood product manufacturing and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing. Average employment in forestry and logging over the financial year was 69% higher than in 2021-22, with 900 people employed. Australia-wide, employment in the sector was down 13% to 56,100 persons.

Estimates of industry value added in 2021-22 increased 9% year on year to $3.3 billion for NSW. 93 Industry value added for Australia increased 21% to $9.7 billion, with significant gains for log sawmilling and timber dressing (up 43% to $1.6 billion) and other wood product manufacturing (up 20% to $4.1 billion).

Stronger Primary Industries Strategy

Impact of forestry and other disturbances on koalas

Strategic Outcome

Icon, a circle of leaves
Sustainable Resources and Productive Landscapes
  • 6.1 Assess and monitor natural resource health for sustainability

Back in 2015 the Forest Ecology team in DPI started monitoring koala populations in the hinterland forests of North-East NSW Led by Dr Brad Law and Dr Leroy Gonsalves, the team used GPS tracking combined with acoustic surveys, and a new powerful AI technique to analyse trends in koala occupancy at 224 sites in public forests. Combined, this approach provides a more accurate picture of koala presence than previous survey techniques.

A key finding of the research so far is that despite severe drought across the region and the Black Summer fires in 2019/20, koala occupancy remained high and stable at the regional scale. That is, north-east NSW remains a koala stronghold with healthy population numbers despite these impacts. GPS-tracking showed koalas regularly using young regenerating forest after timber harvest, as well as older forest in State forest reserves excluded from harvesting. Based on the data collected, selective timber harvesting, land tenure and low severity fire had no influence on koala presence or population trend across the study region.

The aim of the research is to support long term ecologically sustainable management of native forests and assessment of the effectiveness of our regulatory arrangements. These results suggest the native timber harvesting rules in NSW are working well to protect koalas and their habitat.

Along the way, DPI Forest Science has collected a vast archive of acoustic recordings made in the forest and there is strong interest from a range of research partners in the development of AI algorithms to detect other iconic forest species such as the powerful owl, sooty owl, barking owl, and yellow-bellied glider.

Working in partnership with Local Land Services and private landholders, this research is now being extended to private land in some areas.