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Furniture price hike fears as WA Government bans native forest logging from 2024

  • Furniture prices are more than 14% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • People may be forced to turn to cheaper less sustainably sourced imports.
  • Australia’s forest industries contribute A$24 billion dollars a year to the economy.

There are fears the cost of buying furniture is about to skyrocket even further after the recent decision by the Government of Western Australia to ban native forest logging from 2024.

On 8 September, the state government announced that logging in WA’s native forests would cease at the end of 2023, which industry bodies say will slash the commercial supply of jarrah, marri and other native hardwoods.

It’s being seen as a devastating blow for consumers too and follows Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released before the decision was announced that shows domestic furniture prices are already more than 14% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

According to the Forest Industries Federation (WA) Inc. (FIFWA) the sector is already suffering and prices have been rising for some time as supply is short and demand is high.

“Globally, there is record demand for timber and timber products, so this ban puts WA at a disadvantage,” FIFWA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adele Farina told Grafa.

As there is no surplus timber available in other states, consumers will be forced to buy imported timber, which has many ramifications including no guarantees of sustainably sourced timber from regions that might have illegal logging practices, the CEO said.

The WA Furniture Manufacturers Association said that the price of locally made furniture will be out of reach of most West Australians and many businesses are likely to close as a result.

With many people turning to home renovations and decking out home offices during protracted lockdowns amid COVID-19, there has been a surge in demand for timber products, while port delays along with raw material shortages have also contributed to pushing up prices.

FIFWA statistics show that Australia’s forest industries contribute A$24 billion dollars a year to the economy, and provide direct employment for 80,000 people and indirect employment for 100,000 people. WA’s timber industry creates 6000 local jobs and generates A$1.4 billion of economic activity annually.

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) said the Government of Western Australia’s decision to stop utilising hardwoods from its own forests did not make sense.

AFPA’s website notes that while there are 132 million hectares of native forests in Australia only about 8 million hectares are managed for forestry operations. Just 0.06% of the forest is harvested each year and all harvested land is regenerated by law.

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