‘Something needs to give’ – how the timber shortage is impacting on Aussie furniture

The cost of timber expected to surge as conflict, Covid-19, and uncertainty over the future of native forestry combine for perfect storm for timber supply chains. With more than 40% of Australian timbers imported from overseas furniture companies have every right  to ask where has our timber gone?

In a WiFM EXCLUSIVE Australian Timber Importers Federation General Manager John Halkett provides AFA members with key insights into the future supply of temperate and tropical hardwood species used in furniture supply chains, conflict timber and the enforcement of the Australian Illegal Logging Act. Find out more in the latest WiFM webinar…

In WiFM exclusive the voice for Australian Timber Importers Federation, John Halkett, provided AFA members with insights into the future supply of temperate and tropical hardwood species commonly used in furniture supply chains.

“Our reliance on imported timber, specifically in timbers used in furniture supply chains is forecast to grow with ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of native forestry in Western Australia and Victoria.”

“In addition, we anticipate that the cost of timber will rise rapidly in line with the broader cost of building materials,” Mr Halkett said.

AFA Research has uncovered that timber is the largest material input in finished furniture with furniture manufacturers now using timbers which can trace increasingly globalised supply chains. The Australian Timber Importers Federation (ATIF) is the peak national body representing the business interests of timber and wood-based product importing and wholesaling companies. Speaking to the AFA Head of Partnerships and Marketing, Jason Ross, ATIF’s John Halkett an overview of forest species used in timber furniture and furnishings, the green and red tape for importation and the challenges for future fibre supply.

The latest WIFM webinar is now available. Join the AFA as a member today to download the latest webinar today for free!


According to an April 2022 interim report by the Forest and Wood Product Association (FWPA), Australia’s housing sector will face a critical timber shortage with an ever-increasing reliance on imported timber if Australia falls short of its plan to plant an additional One Billion Product Trees.

Many timbers used in Australian furniture can be traced from far away locations including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Solomons, PNG and even the Americas and Europe.

“As importers, we have an obligation under the Australian Illegal Logging legislation to ensure that imported timber is legal at its origin.”

“It is important to stress that the responsibilities under the legislation fall on the importer and not the furniture manufacturer or specifier,” Mr Halkett said.

Information related to the Australian Illegal Logging legislation is included in the AFA Timber Due Diligence Toolkit which can be downloaded from the AFA website.

In addition to legality, forest certification plays an important role in meeting the wants and needs of the circular economy.

“Increasingly imported timber uses independent third-party certification to demonstrate that timber is grown, harvested and manufactured from sustainably managed forests.”

PEFC (Responsible Wood in Australia) and FSC plays an important role in tracing the origin of forest products in the forest and is recognised by the Green Building Council of Australia and released in October 2021, is recognised in the Sustainable Procurement Guidelines for Commonwealth projects.

For more information about third-party certification please visit the AFA website for an exclusive AFA webinar on “Certification and Sustainable Forest Management” (insert link).

The full webinar with John Halkett is available for download form the ‘WiFM’ website.

About WiFM 

WiFM delivers informative networking, training and upskilling events which are relevant and meaningful to practitioners and business professionals across the furnishing industry supply chain sectors.

“Timber shortages, global challenges and top tips to mitigating any risks associated with importing conflict timber” was filmed on Thursday, the 13 October 2022.