Hardwood plantation program

What was the hardwood plantation program?

In 1999, as part of the SEQFA, the government commenced a hardwood plantation program. This was to provide an alternative timber resource for the native hardwood industry.

In 2010, a private company, HQPlantations Pty Ltd became responsible for the program when it purchased the government’s forestry plantation business. The company was required to complete the planting of 20000 hectares by 2025.

As at 2019, around 15000 hectares had been planted, with 12000 hectares planted by the government prior to the sale to HQPlantations and 3000 hectares since then.

Most of the plantations are on freehold land either owned by HQPlantations or managed under land rental agreements. Other smaller areas are managed under joint ventures or located on State forest within HQPlantations’ plantation licence area.

The plantations comprise:

  • spotted gum—making up over half of the plantations and the most common native hardwood species harvested in Queensland
  • western white gum—around one-quarter of the plantations and primarily in areas not suitable for spotted gum
  • other species including Gympie messmate and Dunns white gum.

Why end the hardwood plantation program?

An independent review of the hardwood plantation program was completed in 2015. It showed that many of the hardwood plantations established so far were performing poorly and would not deliver the alternative hardwood resource as intended. Because of this the decision was made to end the program.

Why the plantations failed

A combination of issues led to the poor performance of the plantations. At the time planting commenced, large-scale native hardwood plantations were untested in Queensland.

Planting locations were challenging to find as available land was typically of marginal soil quality and in areas of increasing climate variability. More suitable land was either already in use for agriculture or was too expensive to buy.

Matching the right species to the right site proved challenging, with research benefits from improved plant genetics, including for insect and pest resilience, yet to be realised.

Despite the plantations being managed using well-established practices, the site and species selection challenges, along with increasing climate variability, pests and diseases, resulted in poor growth rates and the commercial failure of large areas of plantations.

What will HQPlantations do with the hardwood plantations?

HQPlantations is considering options for the better performing hardwood plantations, including opportunities for the timber industry to acquire parts of the resource on a commercial basis. If this opportunity is of interest, you can contact HQPlantations.

Contacting HQPlantations

You can contact HQPlantations at information@hqplantations.com.au for further information.