Commercial farm trees, like Spotted gum, have the potential to offer a range of benefits to farmers and land managers by increasing Australia’s long-term timber supply while contributing social, economic and environmental benefits to regional areas.
Trees are often planted to provide windbreaks and shelterbelts for crops and livestock, to manage the watertable or to protect topsoil from erosion. However, many landholders, using existing infrastructure and integrating tree management practices into existing farm operations, may be able to earn an alternative income from planting farm trees that earn a commercial return. The risk inherent in all commercial tree operations is the long period between establishment and harvest. This can range from 30 to 50 years with no financial return in the interim.
Spotted gum has a wide range of uses including in heavy construction and engineering, but its attractive light to reddish brown timber means it is in demand for polished timber floors and cabinetry in residential and commercial buildings. It is also harvested for export woodchips and used in paper manufacturing.
Spotted gum is commercially harvested in New South Wales and Queensland, from native forests and plantations. It is gaining popularity as a plantation timber due to its early growth, narrow crowns (the upper part of the tree including branches and leaves), relatively good form and its good quality, general use timber. It is also considered a lower risk commercial tree, particularly in a farm forestry environment, where its thick bark means it can coexist with grazing animals and it is relatively tolerant to drought and fire events.
Facts and figures
- The name spotted gum refers to four species of Corymbia that grow along the east coast of Australia
- The bulk of spotted gum is harvested in Queensland
- Spotted gum has a range of uses in heavy engineering, construction and outdoors
- It is an attractive timber used in flooring and joinery
- Plantation timbers can be harvested for export woodchips or paper production at around 12 years growth
- Spotted gum is gaining popularity as a farm tree
- It is considered a lower risk plantation tree due to its relative drought and fire tolerance
- It is relatively pest and disease resistant
- Genetic improvement is not advanced, therefore planting rates will need to be high to achieve quality trees
Sawn timber from spotted gum species is generally and widely available through timber merchants with commercial harvesting taking place in Queensland and New South Wales. In fact, spotted gum is the highest volume native hardwood harvested in Queensland.