Green Triangle Region

 

THE GREEN TRIANGLE REGION

The Green Triangle region comprises south western Victoria and south eastern South Australia. The region covers about 5.3 million hectares and has a broad range of primary industries including agriculture, dairying, viticulture and forestry.  There is also a significant marine environment which supports a commercial southern rock lobster fishery. The region is also noted for its substantial environmental reserves including the RAMSAR listed Coorong Lakes system and the Grampians and Glenelg National Parks.

 

PLANTATION FORESTRY

From a forestry perspective, the Green Triangle region represents the largest area of plantations in Australia. Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) has been planted since the 1870’s and that resource that now represents about 18% of Australia’s softwood area (177,535 hectares, 2010), supports a wide range of processing facilities producing saw lumber, particleboard, treated posts and poles, wood chips for export and pulpwood for paper manufacture at the Kimberly Clark Australia plant at Millicent.

Byproducts include biofuels used by mills for heat and energy and the conversion of wood waste, sawdust and residue into mulch and garden products.

Since the 1990’s, a eucalypt or hardwood plantation resource has been developed.  The principle species is Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and about 177,643 hectares (2010) has been established on formerly cleared agricultural land across the Green Triangle region. While the pine plantations are generally managed with several intermediate harvests, or thinnings, and clear felled between 30 to 35 years, the Blue Gum plantations have been developed to yield wood chip for pulp and paper production. Blue Gum plantations are planned to be harvested between 10 to 15 years.

 

EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION

The pine plantations in the Green Triangle region produce between 3 and 4 million tonnes of wood annually and the volume of wood harvested across the region will increase dramatically when the Blue Gum harvest commences.

Forestry contributes $778 million to gross regional product (2003/04), or 16% of the total regional economy. Interestingly forestry represents 30% of total primary production from about 10% of the landscape.

In addition, forestry and downstream value adding accounts for about 12% of the total jobs in the Green Triangle region, and about 23% of all employment in the region’s primary industries. Directly and indirectly the industry employs 8,765, of which approximately 830 are in the forestry growing sector, with flow-on indirect employment totalling almost 4,600 jobs.

 

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

While the pine plantations provide for the domestic market, the wood chip from the Blue Gum plantations is destined for overseas export (via the Port of Portland). To cater for this new and emerging market, new export handling facilities have been constructed at the Port and a wood chip mill has been established at Myamyn to process logs into wood chips; the alternative being infield chipping.

Currently with a mature processing capacity in the region, the supply and demand for pine is roughly in balance and therefore there is scope to expand the pine estate, especially as current Australian softwood estate has been static or in decline over the past decade. In addition Australia needs to import about 25% of its sawn softwood requirements.

Wood, being a renewable energy source, and its residues, provides opportunities for the production biomass, biofuels, wood pellets, biochar etc. There is considerable interest in assessing the opportunities for these energy forms within the Green Triangle region and one company, Plantation Energy, has plans for two wood pelleting plants in the Green Triangle region.

The Green Triangle region has a vibrant forestry sector covering growing processing and export. The region offers many opportunities with growing, processing, employment, training etc. in a growing region.