TIMBER UPDATE December 2023

by | Dec 18, 2023

Forestry Australia releases forestry management statements

Forestry Australia has released three new and highly topical Position Statements to share its evidence-based positions on important issues relating to the management of forests across Australia.

The Statements cover Conservation of Threatened Species, Forest Carbon Markets, and the Thinning of Native Forests. Each of which are designed to be accessible to all.

Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freeman said evidence was critical to inform decision-making and to provide balance to debates around the management of Australia’s forests.

“Now more than ever we need to ensure that there is evidence-based and balanced information readily available, given we live in an era of information overload, misinformation, and disinformation,” Dr Freeman said.

“Forestry Australia’s Position Statements are designed to do just that – to cut to the chase and provide clear information based on science, the world’s best practice and evidence-based research.”

“We want to ensure that when policymakers, the media, and the wider community discuss, debate, and decide on issues that affect future forest management, they have these easy-to-read Statements at hand,” she said.

On the Gold Coast, 475 delegates gathered at the recent highly successful Australia New Zealand Institute of Forestry (ANZIF) conference, where Forestry Australia released the three new Position Statements, which takes their total released to date to eight.

“Each two-page Position Statement explains the context for the specific topic and presents Forestry Australia’s position, with supporting information. I want to acknowledge the significant amount of work that has been done by groups of volunteer experts to develop these Statements,” Dr Freeman said.

The Position Statements can be found at: www.forestry.org.au.

Association Forum Awards recognises Foresty Australia 

Forestry Australia was awarded the Association Turnaround of the Year Award.

Forestry Australia recently received the Association Turnaround of the Year Award at the Associations Forum Awards Dinner in Sydney. Forestry Australia Chief Executive Officer Jacquie Martin said the national recognition was a testament to members, staff, volunteers, and the Board, Timberbiz reported.

“The Association Turnaround of the Year Award recognises the successful transformation of Forestry Australia in recent years,” Ms Martin said.

“In the last five years, we have achieved significant membership growth, increased member satisfaction, expanded member benefits, increased revenue and equity, and made a huge step-change from being reactive towards leading the way.”

Since June 2020, membership has increased by over 20 per cent, reaching 1,200 members in June 2021.

“Importantly, we are attracting the next generation of leaders in our sector, with a doubling of student and young professional members in recent years, as well as a six per cent increase in female members,” Ms Martin said.

Forestry Australia maintains a positive relationship and focus when it comes to its members, one that is evident in member growth and satisfaction.

“Our commitment to our members has seen our Net Promoter Score increase 67 points and member satisfaction has risen by 26 per cent in five years; our member satisfaction has hit 85 per cent in 2023, which is a remarkable turnaround.”

This follows the success of Forestry Australia’s 2023 Australia New Zealand Institute of Forestry (ANZIF) Conference, which attracted a record 475 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

“Forestry Australia is focussed on supporting active and adaptive forest management, evidence-based decision making, and the scientists, professionals and growers who manage, study and care for our forests,” she said.

“I would like to thank our team in the national office, current and past board members, volunteers and our members for their passion, dedication and ongoing support – this award is for you,” Ms Martin concluded.

Transitional Board appointed by Forestry Centre of Excellence

A Transitional Board for the Forestry Centre of Excellence has been appointed by the South Australian Government at Mount Gambier, naming Professor Rob Lewis as the independent Chair.

Currently the Director of Science Without Bounds, Professor Lewis is already contracted by the State Government to facilitate engagement between industry, government, and other stakeholders, while also providing strategic advice and leadership in establishing the Forestry of Excellence.

Timberbiz reported that the Forestry Centre of Excellence is initially being established within the University of South Australia (UniSA), with oversight by this Transitional Board and an independent chair while the final structure is designed. Once the board is in place, operations will be transitioned to a permanent structure as the Transitional Board is replaced with a skills-based board.

The Labor Malinauskas Government has reportedly committed $15 million over 10 years for the new forestry centre, which is the first of its kind in South Australia, and is being developed to create long-term research and development capabilities to enhance the Green Triangle’s economic prosperity and generate more jobs and investment in the region.

The centre will accommodate entities such as the National Institute of Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) along with UniSA, the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH), Tree Breeding Australia and the Logging Investigation and Training Association (LITA Training) at the existing UniSA/TAFE precinct in Mount Gambier.

Forestry Corporation apologises for protected trees removal

The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has issued an apology for the unintentional removal of 17 trees from a protected area of Coopernook State Forest during a forestry operation that took place in 2021. 

The corporation has collaborated with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to develop an Enforceable Undertaking that outlines a series of projects aimed at compensating for the mistake, Timberbiz reported.

The incident occurred in December 2021 when Forestry Corporation’s contractor mistakenly harvested trees in a riparian exclusion zone, allegedly breaching the Forestry Act 2012. The alleged breaches were self-reported to the EPA by Forestry Corporation.

General Manager Hardwood Forests Daniel Tuan said compliance with the environmental regulations is of paramount importance.

“We are disappointed that we did not comply on this occasion, and we are sorry. When we identified the error, we immediately self-reported it to the EPA,” he said. 

“We have worked collaboratively with the EPA over the past 12 months to identify investments that will deliver tangible environmental and community benefits to compensate for the damage this operation caused.”

The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales must pay $500,000 towards four environmental projects in a legally binding Enforceable Undertaking with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority.

EPA Director Operations Steve Orr said adherence to stringent rules regarding forestry operations is crucial.

“These trees were in a protected riparian exclusion zone, close to streams, so removing them had the potential to destabilise the soil and cause potential harm to the aquatic system as well as reduce available habitat for fauna,” Mr Orr said.

The Enforceable Undertaking (EU) requires Forestry Corporation to fund four projects that will deliver benefits to the environment, the local community, and improve its operations including:

  • $150,000 to develop and test an industry-first in-cab Boundary Warning Prototype to improve forestry operational boundary management.
  • $150,000 to improve Forestry Corporation’s corporate website to better inform external stakeholders about its forestry operations.
  • $100,000 to establish and maintain a nature-themed playground at the Forest Camping Ground in Coopernook State Forest that will cater for an expanded visitor demographic.
  • $100,000 to establish, monitor and maintain breeding sites for threatened frog species in the Olney State Forest.

Forestry Corporation has agreed to pay $37,802.94 for legal and investigative costs, as well as future compliance monitoring costs. 

These projects will be delivered over the next 12 months and progress will be reported regularly to the EPA.

In the meantime, Forestry Corporation is reviewing its systems, processes, and training to ensure the full implementation of strict environmental regulations in forestry operations.