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Sustainability And Renewable Forests

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The past year has thrown up its fair share of challenges, however the forestry industry remains resilient and forward-looking, with a number of initiatives being undertaken to bolster the industry in the long term, while the collective focus has been turning to ensuring all preparations are made ahead of the upcoming fire season.

The NSW government recently released its independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry report, examining the circumstances of the 2019- 20 bushfires, and has advised that all 76 recommendations made by the inquiry will be accepted in principle, designed to improve planning, preparedness and response to bushfires.

In this issue we talk to Bob Gordon, President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA), about how a wealth of knowledge and experience are key to correct forest management.

AAF talks to Ruth Ryan AFSM, HVP Plantations Corporate Fire Manager, about some of the fire prevention and management techniques employed by plantations, along with the importance of close and regular collaboration between a range of stakeholders in seeking to establish effective strategies.

Ruth notes that the basic principles of fire fighting haven’t changed much over the years, however does highlight the increasing role that technology is playing in fire prevention and management, providing fire fighters a range of information, from weather forecasting, to mapping and the utilisation of fire modelling software.

We have also caught up with Caterpillar Forestry Manager Felice Stocco, who talks about his new role with the heavy equipment manufacturer, and his goals for the coming years, along with the growth opportunities for industry.

Felice points to opportunities in the Australian and New Zealand markets, highlighting the harsh operating conditions that are often faced, and the importance of customer feedback in developing equipment designed to get the job done.

National Forestry Planting Day

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) marked National Forestry Planting Day on August 3 – initially launched in 2017, designed to recognise the country’s “sustainable and renewable forest industries” – with AFPA CEO Ross Hampton noting approximately 70 million new trees are planted during winter in southern Australia and summer in northern Australia each year. Hampton highlighted the role the season plays in ensuring “Australia has a continual, renewable resource that contributes to long- term carbon emissions abatement”. “These are trees that, as they grow, will absorb carbon from the atmosphere before being harvested to create products used in homes every day,” he commented. “As well, our sustainable and renewable forest industries support communities across Australia, providing livelihoods for thousands of families, while making a positive environmental contribution.”

Hampton noted that enough tree seedlings are planted every year to cover an area equivalent to 136,000 football fields, and that this figure is set to increase.

“In order for Australia to meet the anticipated quadrupling of demand for wood fibre by 2050 even more trees than the 70 million need to be planted each year,” he commented.

“The federal government has recognised this need through its National Forest Industries Plan, and has committed to planting one billion new trees over the next decade. It has also funded nine forest industry hubs across Australia in regions where the industry is well established, to ensure the right trees are planted in the right places.”

New NT Association

The AFPA has welcomed the establishment of the Forest Industry Association Northern Territory (FIANT), representing all major forestry enterprises in the NT, with Frank Miller taking on the role of the association’s inaugural president.

Hampton said the AFPA is looking forward to working with its NT colleagues, and pointed to the strong potential of the NT forestry industry.

“The top end of Australia has real potential for renewable forest products industries,” he commented. “It is close to developing markets in northern Australia and South East Asia, which meet a growing demand, and help Indigenous communities meet the goals they want to achieve for economic development and financial independence.”

“FIANT has also set as a goal to play a major role in helping the NT economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is well placed to do that, as, like all sectors of the sustainable forest products supply chain around the country, it is providing an essential service which did not stop.”

As previously reported in AAF, a Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia study, released earlier in the year, highlights the potential for growth of the northern Australian (which includes all of the NT) forestry and forest products industry, finding it could potentially treble its production value to up to $300 million per annum over the next five-to-10 years.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the country the AFPA has welcomed the appointment of Nick Steel as the Tasmanian Forest Products Association’s (TFPA) first CEO, which is replacing the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, highlighting Steel’s experience working over 10 years for the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association at senior levels.

“The TFPA’s membership includes all the major growers and processors who are part of Tasmania’s sustainable forest products industry, in native forestry and plantation, softwood and hardwood, heralding a new era of cooperation between all parts of the industry to represent Tasmania’s forest industries to governments, media and the community,” Hampton commented.

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