Category: Members – News
How fast can a tree grow a house?
Recently FWPA was asked how long it would take for Australia’s softwood plantation estate to grow the amount of structural timber needed to build an average house.
This question was well timed, as FWPA had only recently released a report on Timber Usage in Residential Construction, a project to extract data from a sample drawn from a pool of nearly 20,000 residential building plans for the 2017-18 period for NSW, Queensland and Victoria. This report found that the weighted average cubic metres of structural timber per house in Australia was approximately 14m³.
We also needed a lot more information to accurately answer the question however, so FWPA undertook a survey of key softwood forest growers from across Australia, which cumulatively represent over 75% of the Australian softwood estate by area. This survey collected and aggregated responses to the following requests:
Estate average Mean Annual Increment (MAI)
Total stocked area
Percentage of standing log volume that is suitable for structural sawn timber processing (sawlogs)
Percentage of mill recovery of structural timber from structural sawlogs
The aggregate survey data was extrapolated to cover the total area of softwood plantation estate, net of recent fire impacted areas.
The results from this survey show that the area weighted MAI from respondents was 20, and of existing 900,000 hectares, around 19% of standing log volume is processed into structural timber.
FWPA used these inputs to calculate the time taken for Australia's plantations to grow structural timber for average house and our answer is 140 seconds, or about 2 and a half minutes.
Research has shown that consumers remember certain numbers more than others which is why in the upcoming consumer campaign for The Ultimate Renewable™, you’ll notice we are using 150 seconds throughout rather than 140.
Another house frame has grown from our estate in the time it took to read this short article!
Article By: Kevin Peachey - Statistics & Economics Manager FWPA