This issue of the Australian forest and wood products statistics (AFWPS) includes updated 2015-16 data for key domestic indicators of forestry sector activity, including sales and service income and industry valued added. It also includes interim estimates of the volume and value of logs harvested in 2016-17, along with updated 2016-17 trade statistics for wood products and data for housing and other residential commencements.
• Forestry industry value added, or contribution to GDP, increased for the third year in a row, growing by 9 per cent to $8.6 billion in 2015-16. Sales and service income for the forestry sector also grew strongly to $23.7 billion in 2015-16 (up 7 per cent from the previous year).
• ABARES estimates that Australia's forestry sector continued to grow strongly in 2016-17, with the total volume and value of logs harvested reaching record levels. Estimated total volume log harvest from native forests and commercial plantations increased by 9 per cent to 32.8 million cubic metres and estimated total value increased by 12 per cent to $2.5 billion.
• After four consecutive years of growth in residential construction activity in Australia, dwelling commencements fell by 6 per cent to 219,300 in 2016-17. The decrease in commencements of other residential buildings (including units and house conversions) was greater than the decrease in house commencements.
• Australia's trade in wood products has been growing since 2012-13 and reached a record level of $8.6 billion in 2016-17. The value of exports reached a record level of $3.4 billion (up 9 per cent from the previous year), while the value of imports fell to $5.3 billion (down 4 per cent from a record level in the previous year).
• China was our largest trading partner in 2016-17 for wood products, accounting for over a quarter of Australia's total wood product imports, nearly half of total wood product exports and the majority of total wood products export growth over the year.