The North Coast region comprises 9.7 million hectares of land, with more than 60 per cent of it forested. Approximately 2.9 million hectares of the region’s forests are in private ownership, spread across thousands of individual holdings.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has recently completed a two-and-a-half-year study on the extent and status of private native forests (PNF) on the North Coast. The project saw more than 600 landholders, contractors and industry representatives interviewed or surveyed, as well as more than five million hectares mapped, and one million hectares of timber resources assessed using aerial photography.
Research found a large number of properties could be more actively managed for sustainable timber operations and other values. Applying best practice silviculture has the potential to generate income, create new jobs and create forests that are healthier and more productive.
This is the first time that information about the state and socio-economic significance of these forests has been quantified at such a scale. A number of useful resources for North Coast PNF landholders will be released over the coming months, with a selection available below.
A report on the silvicultural condition of the of private native forests between Coffs Harbour and the Queensland border found that the forests are predominantly mixed age with a high proportion of young trees that are less than 40cm in diameter. There is a lot of young regrowth forest out there however much of it is not in a good growing state. The report found, for example, that half of the basal area of measured trees in the 25-40cm diameter class had suppressed or subdominant (weak) crowns.
DPI has mapped the coastal private native forests according to their growth status and productivity. To qualify, these forests had to be in stands greater than 25 hectares, of commercial quality and not subject to any known regulatory exclusions.
Note: Maps have been simplified (reduced in size) to allow for viewing in Google Earth. This process has had some effect on map quality and resolution. To view the maps, you will need to download Google Earth on your device.
A survey of 515 landholders , that manage 25 hectares or more private native forest, found that their native forests are used for a large variety of purposes. The dominant land-uses include stock grazing, shade and shelter, on-property timber use and habitat for animals and plants. Use of private native forests is influenced by their locality and the duration a property has been in single ownership. The report provides further information on landholders’ attitudes, knowledge and intentions to gain income through private native forestry activities.
Two surveys were undertaken in 2017 to quantify PNF production levels and socio-economic significance. Research found that PNF harvesting contractors play a central and major role in facilitating timber supply and are relied upon for advice by landowners who have limited knowledge of forestry.
The timber yield from North Coast PNF operations is estimated at 275,000 m3 per year which represents 38 per cent of total North Coast hardwood log production. In comparison, the Forestry Corporation of NSW produces 450,000m3 of timber per year from North Coast state forests that are less than half the size of the private native forest estate. The production figures suggest that there may be scope to create more jobs and grow the regional economy on the back of PNF.
View the report Survey of North Coast PNF Wood Processors (PDF, 1259.48 KB)