Supporting commercial forestry opportunities in East Arnhem Aboriginal communities

Region: Greater Darwin | Topic: Horticulture
Feb 2022 | Dallas Anson, Forestry Group Leader

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade’s Plant Industries is involved in a 3‑year research and development project investigating the potential for commercial Indigenous forestry in northern Australia. The project is focused on the Northern Territory’s East Arnhem Land, and is due to be completed by June 2023.

The Indigenous Commercial Forestry Opportunities project will facilitate sustainable forest-based livelihood benefits for Yolngu Traditional Owners, and is supported and funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia, as well as Developing East Arnhem Limited, the University of the Sunshine Coast, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Gumatj Corporation, the Northern Land Council, and the Northern Territory Government.

The four concurrent phases of this sustainable forestry project are:

  1. Forest Product Development Pilot

    The project involves a harvesting, product identification, manufacturing, performance testing and market assessment pilot. To support market entry, the focus will be on supplying local markets, including consideration of Forest Stewardship Council certification options.

  2. Traditional Owner Engagement

    This project will consult with northern Australian Indigenous communities interested in commercial forestry and inform them of industry opportunities and practicalities.

  3. Forest Resource Assessment

    This process will create a comprehensive inventory (desktop analysis and field-based surveys) of the forests of East Arnhem Land.

  4. Indigenous Capacity Building

    This project will assist Northern Territory Aboriginal communities with identified potential to operate forestry enterprises to develop their forestry workforce and business opportunities.

The department’s Forestry team is working across all phases of the project, including fieldwork focused on forest resource and inventory, engagement and consultation with Aboriginal communities, capacity building and training, identification of opportunities and practicalities around the development of forestry enterprises. Further information and updates on the project will be available in upcoming editions of the NT Rural Review newsletter.

Stacks of timber planks

Caption: Sawn timber stacked at the Indigenous-owned Gumatj sawmill in Gunyangara, East Arnhem.

Men marking tree in forest

Caption: Traditional Owners from Birany Birany homelands marking trees for data collection in the project trial in East Arnhem Land.

More information

Further details about this program are on the Developing East Arnhem website.

Read more about Plant Industries' forestry projects.

Back to NT Rural Review - February 2022