New board appointments for AFWI

by | Mar 6, 2024

The board for the establishment and management of the $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) research institute has officially been appointed.

AFWI is a collaboration between the Australian Government and the University of Tasmania, committed to advancing research and innovation to support Australia’s forest and wood product industries.

The newly appointed board will oversee all AFWI activities and expenditures and will operate as an advisory board as well as endorse the strategic direction and research priorities of AFWI.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the appointment of the board is the next step in establishing AFWI.

“The appointment of the Board will allow the strategic direction and research priorities of AFWI to be finalised, which means AFWI-funded research will shortly begin,” he said.

“This research will help to support our Australian forest and wood product industries, as well as our journey to generate greater value from our sustainable forestry industries – forests are fantastic carbon stores, after all,” Minister Watt said.

“The investment in AFWI will support innovation and research that will change the way we use wood to benefit our community into the future. The establishment of the Board will help turbocharge this innovation.”

The Board will be chaired by Mr Bob Gordon who will be joined by fellow board members:

Ms Diana Gibbs
Ms Christine Briggs
Dr Heidi Dungey
Mr Brian Farmer
Mr Michael O’Connor
Ms Rachael Cavanagh
Mr Andrew Leighton
Dr Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra
Mr Andrew Wilson

The Board will also be supported by a Research Advisory Committee, which is expected to be established shortly.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Richard Hyett, offered his congratulations on the appointments and enthusiasm for the future of the sector.

“I congratulate Minister Watt on marshalling this excellent Board of forestry sector professionals. We welcome the inclusion of Michael O’Connor with his incredible depth of knowledge and former AFPA chair and current director, Diana Gibbs. AFPA played an important role in the genesis of the AFWI, so it is particularly satisfying to witness the progress,” he said.

“AFPA, through our own membership and expertise, will work with the AFWI to ensure well-formed research priorities and projects. Forest products sector innovation will be greatly spurred by the AFWI – the market possibilities it could help drive are truly exciting and it will help Australia’s competitiveness in our sector,” Richard Hyett concluded.

For more information on AFWI, visit the department’s website: