Joint media release: Forest industries to benefit from expanded R&D funding

15 December 2021

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, the Hon David Littleproud MP
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Hon Jonno Duniam

This year’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) has included $26.2 million in funding measures to support and bolster innovation in the forest and wood products industries. 

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the investments were a demonstration of the Australian Government’s commitment to backing the forest industries to grow.

“Investments in research and development are critical to ensuring that our forest and wood products industries are able to continue to supply the critical products that Australia needs,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We have listened to our forest growers and are increasing our matched levy funding to Forest and Wood Products Australia at their request. 

“The industry has recognised the importance of research and development to its future, and the Australian Government is rewarding that leadership by backing the industry in with ongoing matched funding. 

“We have also committed $3.1 million over two years to extend the regional National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) Centres in Launceston, Mount Gambier and Gippsland.

“The NIFPI centres have funded a total of 35 projects between them so far, supporting innovation in forest management, timber processing, wood fibre recovery, advanced manufacturing and the bio-economy forestry sectors.”

Assistant Minister Duniam said the measures also included funding to protect the profitability and viability of the industry from the impacts of illegally logged timber imports.

“This year, we’ve committed $900,000 over two years to deliver a series of studies to assess our exposure to illegally logged timber,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“We need to make sure our strong illegal logging laws are doing everything possible to keep unsustainable, illegal timber away from our market.

“Reduced prices disproportionately impact the ongoing sustainability of Australian businesses, particularly in regional areas, where much of our timber production is centred.

“This investment will solidify Australia’s reputation as a source of sustainable, legally harvested, high quality timber products.”

Assistant Minister Duniam said the new measures build on the Australian Government’s critical investments in supporting timber supplies in the wake of the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. 

“Since the bushfires, we’ve allocated over $80 million in programs that support the timber industry and the industries it supports,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“Those investments have resulted in the salvage of over 900,000 tonnes of burnt timber, and are ensuring timber mills are able to invest in technology and infrastructure to better utilise this important and sustainable resource.”

Fast Facts:

  • Additional levies funding:
    • Forest growers have decided conclusively that they will increase their funding for research and development and biosecurity surveillance measures.
    • The Australian Government will match this funding with an expected additional $0.9 million in 2022-23, $1.6 million in 2023-24, and $2.3 million ongoing from 2024-25. 
    • The Commonwealth will match the new research and development expenditures as provided under the Forestry Marketing Research and Development Services Act 2007.
  • NIFPI centres extension:
    • $3.1 million will extend the three regional NIFPI centres for two years. 
    • The regional NIFPI centres have been jointly funded by the Australian Government ($6 million so far), State Government ($6 million so far) and industry ($12.5 million so far).
  • Market protection from illegal timber imports:
    • $900,000 is being provided over two years to deliver a series of studies to assess our current and future exposure to illegally logged timber imports.
    • The studies will be used to develop a set of recommendations for better targeting compliance efforts across the 30,000 importers and $7.8 billion of annual trade regulated under the illegal logging laws.
  • Construction Softwood Transport Assistance Program:
    • $15.1 million has been allocated to partner with participating state and territory governments to bring bushfire-affected wood to mills that produce structural timbers for Australia’s building industry.