2023 Australia and NZ Forestry Conference Shatters Records

Wood Central is reporting LIVE upgrades from the conference.

Wed 18 Oct 23


The record-breaking Australia and New Zealand Forestry Conference wrapped up today with a series of Forest Field Trips scheduled this morning.

On Sunday, the Wood Central Publisher joined 475 delegates on the first day of the Conference, which, over the coming days, 130 of Asia-Pacific’s “best and brightest forest scientists, agroforesters, and traditional owners” address the Conference.

This year’s event theme is “Embracing Our Natural Capital: The Science, Technology and Art of Managing Forests For All Values.”

Forest Field Trips among highlights of the Final Day

Delegates were invited to participate in one of six field trips, including:

  • Field Trip #1 – Recovery, Health and Country Management

Hosted by the Forestry Corporation of NSW team, this field trip will visit forests in Northern NSW that were burnt during the 2019/2020 black summer fires, comparing forest health, structure and condition of sites with frequent fire frequency with long unburnt areas. The restoration of forests significantly impacted by black summer fires, traditional burning opportunities, and FCNSW engagement with traditional owners and country management will be key themes explored during the field trip.

  • Field Trip #2 – Farm, Agroforestry and Family Business

Hosted by Forestry Australia’s Grower Committee, this field trip will include visits to Hurford Hardwood’s mill – a family business that was established in 1932 that spans multiple tiers by being a grower, manufacturer and wholesaler – and Super Forest Plantations’ Nimbin properties, which will provide insights into a mixed farming enterprise (plantation timber and cattle) that has developed over the last 23 years and has grown over 1,000 ha of durable hardwoods in mixed species plantings across multiple sites.

  • Field Trip #3 – Wood Products, Innovation and Arboretum

This wood products and innovation Field Trip will travel to Brisbane and visit the University of Queensland’s Salisbury research facility to tour their engineered wood products testing facility. Come hear about innovative work from the researchers and learn about some of their exciting engineered wood projects. The trip will also visit Sherwood Arboretum to see the ‘Discover our Trees’ walk and the Foresters Grove.

  • Field Trip #4 – Non-Wood Forest Products, Education and Research

The far north coast of NSW boasts a unique climate, ecology and culture that supports a variety of spectacular parks and production of bioenergy, food and native plant extracts. This tour will also include forest recreation, plant oils production, gin distilling, green energy, koalas, nuts, science, laboratories, and many rainforests. Lots to see and talk about. Head to north-eastern NSW to visit Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus and learn about their bioenergy and regenerative forestry education and research from the team. This trip will then look at the importance of non-wood forest products in the region and include a trip back through the spectacular hinterland to stop off at some tourist favourites.

  • Field Trip #5 – Forest Health, Fire, Resilience and Conservation

Travelling to Lamington National Park and the Tallebudgera Valley, this trip will discuss national park management and conservation by local park rangers while visiting some spectacular regional sub-tropical rainforests. Arriving at Binna Burra Lodge, you will hear about the 2019 Black Summer fires that impacted the lodge and the effect on recreational tourism in the region and the road to recovery. After lunch at the Binna Burra Lodge, you will explore the 2019 fire-affected forest and hear how the event unfolded from park rangers. You will discuss the circumstances ahead of the fire and its impacts on the ecosystem with local fire experts and rangers. On the way back, the field trip will take you to the Tallebudgera Valley, where Myrtle Rust is impacted. Here, you will discuss the impacts fire has on the spread of the Myrtle Rust disease affecting Myrtaceae species, current research activities and the potential impact caused by the disease.

  • Field Trip #6 – Multi-day trip to Sunshine Coast

Join HQPlantations to tour their RW & FSC-certified Araucaria and Southern Pine plantations. Weather permitting, participants will visit HQP’s 10M pa seedling
nursery, hear about their advanced tree breeding program and learn about HQP’s fire management innovations. See silviculture and harvesting operations in
the largest contiguous softwood plantation in the southern hemisphere and # Australia’s only native rainforest softwood species, Australian Araucaria™. There is also an opportunity for some participants to tour Hyne Timber’s Tuan mill. Please note that this field trip will include an overnight stay and will also involve some long days of travel. We will do our best to ensure return by 5.30 pm on Day 2 of the Field Trip. However, we cannot guarantee you will return in time to meet the flights. Please consider this when booking your return travel following the Conference.

Dr Kevin Tolhurst AM celebrated on Day 3

The late, great Dr Kevin Tolhurst AM was awarded the N.W. Jolly Medal, the highest honour for outstanding service to the forest science profession in Australia.

Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freeman said the award was a timely opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Dr Tolhurst following his sudden passing this month.

Gary Morgan accepted the award on behalf of Dr Kevin Tolhurst AM. (Photo Credit: Forestry Australia)

“The loss of Kevin has been felt deeply by many in our community and beyond,” Dr Freeman said.

“Kevin’s contribution to forest and fire management has been phenomenal, and his knowledge and passion were truly awe-inspiring.”

“Kevin’s legacy will continue to endure through the practices he created that continue to shape how we manage fire and through today’s N.W Jolly Medal.”

Dr Tolhurst’s award was accepted by Gary Morgan AM AFSM.

Forestry Australia President Michelle Freeman with Rowan Reid, the 2023 N.W Jolly Medal. (Photo Credit: Forestry Australia)

Forestry scientist and world-renowned agroforester Rowan Reid joined Dr Tolhurst in receiving the 2023 N.W Jolly Medal.

“Rowan is a visionary and an exceptionally deserved recipient of the highest honour in the forestry profession,” Dr Freeman said.

“Arguably, his finest achievement is the Master Tree Grower Program, which runs across Australia and has been adapted and delivered in Africa, Indonesia, Vanuatu and East Timor.”

Jenna Hammond, the Prince of Wales Award recipient. (Photo Credit: Forestry Australia)

The Prince of Wales Award was also awarded at the conference in recognition of the achievement of an outstanding young to mid-career forest professional.

“Tasmania’s Jenna Hammond is a forest steward standout and an exceptionally worthy recipient of the Prince of Wales Award,” Dr Freeman said.

“Jenna’s dedication to communication and inclusivity makes her a truly special member of Australia’s professional forest community and a worthy recipient of the Forestry Australia Prince of Wales Award.”

We extend our deepest thanks and congratulations to these deserving recipients!

The conference theme highlights the need for evidence-based management of forests

According to Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freemen, the Conference highlights the need for evidence-based, active and adaptive management of all forests.

“Many Australians might not realise it, but sustainable forest management is an integral solution to many of the challenges facing society,” Ms Freeman said.

“This includes how we can minimise bushfires, combat climate change, support biodiversity and meet local demand for wood, including housing, just to name a few.”

This afternoon, the highest number of Australian foresters were awarded “fellow status” at the conference – including Bob Gordon (former President), TAS, Dr Kevin Harding, QLD, Dr Lachie McCaw, WA, Dr Michelle Freeman, VIC (current President), Dr Stuart Davey, ACT, Ruth Ryan, VIC, Penny Wells, TAS, Peter Fagg, VIC, Rob de Fégely, NSW. (Photo Credit: Forestry Australia)

Reflecting on the topics discussed from October 15 to 18, Ms Freeman said it was important to have facts based on available science and evidence and that “we’re all committed through sustainable forest management.”

Wood Central spoke to Jonathon Tibbets, Marketing and Communication Manager for Responsible Wood and Richard Laity, the Australian-born PEFC International Southeast Asia Manager.

Responsible Wood is the Australian National Governing Body for PEFC International – the world’s largest forest certification scheme, with Mr Tibbets presenting on “social media and modern communication” today.

According to Mr Tibbets, “empowering end-consumers with knowledge about sustainable forest management” is crucial for forestry to capitalise on the carbon economy.

Mr Laitley, based in Vietnam, will also present “insights for Australia and New Zealand in developing culturally relevant and regionally specific sustainability standards” tomorrow afternoon.

After the EU passed the EU Deforestation Regulation in May, forest certification is playing an increasing role in demonstrating that supply chains are free from deforestation, conflict timber and ensuring that indigenous rights are maintained.

“These are the topics that some of the greatest minds from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will be discussing at this year’s Conference,” Ms Freeman said.

Nora Devoe (from ACIAR) chaired the Women in Forestry Breakfast this morning, which included a panel from Emily Post (Local Land Services, NSW), Elianese Mytton (New Forests, NZ) and Kerri Catchpoole (DAF Queensland). (Photo Credit: Forestry Australia)

Among the Keynote Speakers at this year’s Conference are nationally recognised identities, Dr Neil Byron and Dr Elizabeth Heagney, who spoke during yesterday afternoon’s opening session.

According to Dr Byran, “trying to work out what global climate change means for forests and other natural capital, and how best to respond to extreme flood, drought and fire events” is a crucial challenge facing 21st-century forestry.

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  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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