Timber Update September 2023

by | Sep 19, 2023

Forestry Australia launches online learning program for members

As part of its commitment to the next generation of forestry professionals, Forestry Australia has developed the Forest Fundamentals Online Learning Program, providing an introduction to foundational forestry-specific subjects. This new program is available on Forestry Australia’s website and is free and exclusive to all members.

The program provides direct access to forestry expertise. Presenters include Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst, Dr Michelle Balasso, Professor Cristopher Brack, Dr Brian Turner, Associate Professor Leon Bren, and Megan Graham.

Forestry Fundamentals features over 35 videos as well as additional resource guides on themes such as forest values, active management, forest monitoring and evaluation, and social values of forestry.

Forestry Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jacquie Martin said that over the past two years, Forestry Australia has consulted with employers and several senior foresters on this initiative.

“Since 2021 the sector has told us that there is a notable knowledge gap within the Australian forest sector,” Ms Martin said.

“Forest growers are recruiting graduates with environmental science or agriculture qualifications, who are well-qualified in their field, but may be looking for additional forestry knowledge and insights.”

The program is part of a key strategic initiative to improve access to forestry experts and continues to build on Forestry Australia’s value proposition.”

In response to this feedback, Forestry Australia, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Leadership Grant, developed this program to:
• Provide forestry-specific information targeting recent graduates and new entrants to the forestry sector.
• Assist companies when introducing new forestry concepts to staff or with the onboarding of new staff.
• Build the sector’s capacity with practical forestry knowledge, targeting subjects that are not easily or currently available.
• Capture and make available the extensive knowledge of Forestry Australia members and subject matter experts.
• Create an easily and conveniently accessible suite of resources.

The subjects and presenters include:

Forest values

• Supply chain: Plantations, Dr Mihai Neagoe.
• Supply chain: Native forest, Patrick Groenhout.
• Forest valuation methodology, Keith Lamb.
• Valuing forests for carbon and other non-wood values, Professor Cristopher Brack.
• Managing forest values, Mark Annandale.

Active management

• Plantations (silviculture), Braden Jenkin.
• Active management for plantations, Dr Michelle Balasso.
• Active management of native forests, Mike Ryan.
• Harvesting to protect the environment, Gary Featherston.
• Role of fire and fire behaviour, Assoc. Prof. Kevin Tolhurst.
• Active management of wood production, Dr Michelle Balasso.
• Water quality monitoring and management, Assoc. Prof. Leon Bren.
• Silviculture for smaller producers, Braden Jenkin.
• Managing urban and native forests, Professor Cristopher Brack.
• Forest certification, Gary Featherston.
• Forest engineering principals and management, Braden Jenkin.

Forest monitoring and evaluation

• Forest biometrics and statistics, Dr Michelle Balasso.
• Basic science of measurement, Dr Brian Turner.
• Resource modelling, Dr Brian Turner.
• Tree measurements and inventories, Dr Brian Turner.
• Remote sensing and GPS, Dr Brian Turner.
• Financial, budgeting and contract management, Braden Jenkin.

Social value of forestry

• Community engagement, Megan Graham.
• Commercial forestry in a community setting, Mark Annandale.

Policy, leadership, research and analysis
• Forest policy, framework and governance, Professor Peter Kanowski.
• Business management and investment analysis, Braden Jenkin.
• Research, Dr Michelle Balasso.

More information can be found at www.forestry.org.au/forest-fundamentals-online-learning-program/

Protections urged for foresters threatened by aggressive protesters

Aggressive, violent and unhygienic attacks have been directed at forestry workers and their families amid rising tensions over the industry’s future.

Environmental and financial concerns, a promised koala sanctuary and the fallout from interstate logging bans have made New South Wales’ state forests a new battleground for workers and those against the industry, reported the Newcastle Herald.

Claims of workers receiving 200 harassing phone calls a day, having faeces thrown at them and their wives threatened with sexual assault were aired in parliament, prompting Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty to call for more respect from protesters.

“Everyone deserves to go to work and be able to come home safely. People who move onto forest land need to be safe from injury and also not put others at risk,” she told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“I respect the right of people to protest, but we also have to respect each other and not put people’s and workers’ lives at risk of injury or worse.”

While protests were generally portrayed as peaceful, New South Wales Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Mark Banasiak said there was a need to create timber safety zones to protect workers.

He said he had learned of many instances of threatening behaviour towards workers.

“One wife of a worker was threatened with rape … others have had insinuations of harm being made against their children along the lines of, ‘I know where your kids get off the school bus in the afternoon’,” Mr Banasiak told Parliament. “Human faeces have been thrown at workers and protesters have threatened to urinate on them.”

As a result, Mr Banasiak introduced a Bill that would create a specific offence for unauthorised entries to timber safety zones, similar to those enacted in Victoria last year. Behind the scenes, the state opposition is set to consider supporting the proposed law or introducing its own version.

The Nature Conservation Council has urged caution over further erosion of the democratic right to protest, pointing to its central role in the right of women to vote, ending conscription and protecting many places of environmental significance.

“These rights have been gradually eroded over recent years and our laws now heavily favour logging contractors destroying our remaining forests rather than citizens exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest,” Chief Executive Jacqui Mumford told AAP.

She also warned unsubstantiated claims against protesters had, “a long history of being used to justify the erosion” of protest rights.

Tensions rose after protesters disrupted the resumption of logging in Newry State Forest near Coffs Harbour at the beginning of August.

A coalition of environmental groups wants a moratorium on the timber industry between Coffs Harbour and Kempsey, where Labor plans to establish a promised Great Koala National Park. The park would protect about 20 per cent of the state’s threatened koala population. Continued logging in areas vital for the sanctuary was deplorable, Greens MP Sue Higginson said.

“Newry State Forest is the front line of injustice, destruction, extinction and political failure,” she said.

On August 2, indigenous man Wilkarr Kurikuta padlocked himself to industrial logging machinery in a further effort to protect sacred sites in the forest.

Forestry Corporation New South Wales said it engaged and worked closely with local Aboriginal communities.

The clashes come after the Victorian State Government said in May that it would end native timber harvesting by 2024, four years earlier than planned, claiming the sector had become unviable due to ongoing legal action.