Establishment of eucalypt plantations in Western Australia began in the late 1980s with the introduction of Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) for the production of pulpwood used in the manufacture of paper products.
In more recent times the hardwood plantations industry has expanded to include a variety of species for different products, such as sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) for sawlogs and oil mallees for carbon sequestration and biomass for fuel. The introduction of farm forestry has also meant that many of these tree crops are being integrated into the farming landscape providing a range of environmental and on-farm benefits.
Since the late 1980s, vast areas of Tasmanian blue gum have been planted by the State Government and private investors to produce pulpwood for high quality paper manufacture in Asia. These plantations occur throughout the south western and southern coastal areas of the State and the timber is exported as woodchips from Albany and Bunbury.
Towards the late 1990s, a variety of different eucalypt species were being established in farm forestry trials and projects throughout the State’s South West, Wheatbelt and South Coast regions. These species included sugar gum, Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna), spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and southern mahogany (Eucalyptus botryoides) as well as Tasmanian blue gum.
Mallees are a group of hardy eucalypt species well adapted to Western Australia's lower rainfall agricultural areas and have been used in many carbon sequestration projects. The primary species planted in Western Australia are:
- Eucalyptus loxophleba
- Eucalyptus polybractea
- Eucalyptus kochii.
More than 14,000 hectares of oil mallees have been planted across the Wheatbelt landscape, mostly in belts intergrated with existing farming activities to develop an industry producing eucalyptus oil and biomass for energy production.