Cranes are appearing in greater numbers on building sites in Australia's major cities as demand for high-rise residential projects increases.

A new report shows a significant uptick in the number of cranes active in Australia’s major cities, attesting to the improving health of the construction sector.

The Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) Crane Index indicates that 427 cranes were sighted in the second quarter of 2015, as compared to 324 in the third quarter of 2014, for an increase of nearly 32 per cent over the six-month period.

The number of cranes currently operating throughout key Australian cities is also 39 per cent greater than the figure logged a year ago, which stood at 308 cranes.

RLB’s Index seeks to assess the state of the construction sector by determining the number of cranes that have been erected in Australia’s leading cities on a bi-annual basis.

The index shows that the construction sector is enjoying particularly robust health in the most populous capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Sydney continues to dominate construction growth amongst Australian cities with a net increase of 43 cranes over the past half year.

Brisbane also enjoyed strong growth with a net gain of 23 cranes, while the figures for Melbourne and Perth were 17 and three respectively.

Residential projects continue to dominate construction activity, with RLB noting that recent interest rate cuts in tandem with continued strong demand for housing have made property appealing for investors in addition to owner-occupiers.

Of the 256 new cranes that were erected over the past six months, 205 were located on the project sites for multi-level residential construction.

This increase in high-rise residential activity tallies with other industry projections. At the end of April, Deutsche forecast that Australia will see record levels of residential building over the next two years, with apartments accounting for roughly half of all new starts.

Work on retail developments is also running strong, with the number of cranes on projects sites nearly tripling over the past six months, leaping from five to 14.

Education, health and civic sector projects saw a slight decline in the number of active cranes, likely as a result of state elections being held in a swathe of states including NSW, Queensland, Victoria and SA.