South West Timber Hub launch Design Tree program to help farmers invest forestry plantations in the region

Amy JohnstonBunbury Herald
Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP.
Camera IconFederal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP. Credit: PAUL WEBSTER/Paul Webster

South West farmers now have access to an innovative program to help assess the unique financial and carbon investment for forestry plantations on their properties.

The South West Timber Hub officially launched the first phase of the Decision Tree program, a unique assessment tool for landowners to rapidly assess the suitability of their farms for plantation forestry.

Through the programs automatic formula, farmers simply add in details of their location and average rainfall and the software will provide an informative result if farm forestry is a potentially profitable crop choice.

The program offers a range of predicted timeline results for plantation investment models and the landowner can decide how closely they choose to work with industry professionals to manage the trees and assist in maximising carbon credits.

The project comes as an incentive for South West land owners to look into investing in privately owned plantations following WA government decision to end logging in native forests.

SWTH project manager Wendy Perdon introduced the program alongside FIFWA, and said the program will revolutionise how landowners manage their crops.

“Decision Tree will allow farmers and landowners to quickly assess if forestry is a profitable option, factoring in their local conditions, distance to mill, alternative land uses and carbon prices to generate a potential profit margin,” Mrs Perdon said.

“If the result generates interest, Decision Tree has different investment models to select from depending on how hands-on the landowner wishes to be in their farm forestry project.”

SWTH will manage the success of the first phase of Decision Tree, and will further develop the program in the next 12 months to expand into different types of forestry crops.

The phase two expansion will utilise funding of $500,000 from an agreement between the Commonwealth and WA Government.

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP said the Decision Tree will be extremely useful for farmers in the South West looking to expand their crops.

“Decision Tree will help landholders determine how beneficial commercial plantations can be on their land,” Mrs Marino said.

“It will take into account the particular circumstances of their land and how well suited it is for timber production.”

“It will enable the commercial interests of landholders to align with the needs of the forest products sector. The emergence of carbon markets adds an exciting dimension to this decision process.

“This new tool is particularly crucial given the historic lack of accurate objective information to guide farm forestry enterprise decisions.”

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