Over 100 industry professionals attended the ‘Doing Timber Business in Queensland Symposium’ at Brisbane’s Victoria Park Golf Course yesterday (June 1).
Timber Queensland’s fourth biennial conference strongly focused on the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, set to be the first ‘climate-positive’ games in history, presenting a once-in-generation opportunity for the Queensland timber and forest product industry.
Mark Furner, Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, formally opened the symposium.
In July 2021, Furner established the Native Timber Advisory Panel to provide the state government with policy options and implications for the future of Queensland’s native forest Industry.
Mick Stephens, CEO of Timber Queensland, sits on the panel, with the importance of resource security discussed during his presentation on ‘State Policies and Opportunities.’
Stephens emphasised the importance of forest resource security to allow sawmillers and private native forest owners to invest in the hardwood industry and the role agroforestry can play in boosting timber supply and related productivity benefits on grazing land.
Keynote address: ‘Pathway to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games’
Bart Mellish, the Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans’ Affairs and the Public Sector, spoke of the important role timber – specifically engineered wood products – can play in achieving Olympic commitments.
“The Queensland government supports efforts to demonstrate engineered wood products and to invest in the future of timber,” Mr Mellish said.
“We can see timber as a building material has great potential in achieving the government’s commitment to a climate-positive Games.”
In particular, Mr Mellish identified the potential of timber in constructing the athletes’ village, achieving a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation.
Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens welcomed the comments: “As an industry, we all understand the opportunity for timber to play a pivotal role in delivering a climate-positive Olympics.
“Such use would significantly contribute towards a ‘Green Games’ through the carbon sequestered and stored in the buildings and venues themselves while lowering the emissions footprint from the construction phase.”
Mr. Mellish provided Wood Central with the presentation; with an extracted version of the speech published here.
Dr. David Brand: ‘Global Investment environment for forests and nature-based assets’
Dr. Brand, chair of New Forests, addressed the major opportunities for forest and nature-based investment opportunities.
“Sustainable forestry is a solution to climate change both in terms of the potential of forestry assets to absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide low embodied energy and low emission substitutes for higher emitting materials,” Dr. Brand said.
In Queensland, a vast majority of the 234,000 ha of forest plantations was established by the state government between 1930-1980.
One of the major obstacles to investment is regulatory, including the ‘water rule’ in the Emissions Reduction Fund.
In a Wood Central opinion article, Mick Stephens said: “Industry has long argued that this acts as a perverse barrier to any new plantation investment as without carbon payments most plantation projects would fail to deliver an adequate rate of return.”
Further abroad, David Brand flagged that the rise of China as a source of demand will be succeeded by the rise of India over the next 10-15 years and then ultimately by the rise of African populations.
Wood Central has published a supporting article outlining New Forests’ global forest outlook.
Robert Mansell, Specification Manager for Hyne Timber, spoke about ‘Confidence in Product Compliance.’
Hyne Timber was the conference’s Gold Sponsor and has long supported Timber Queensland and the biennial symposium.
Kerry Fullarton, Hub Manager for the South and Central Queensland Regional Forestry Hub, and Hulton King, North Queensland Forestry Hub Manager, addressed ‘Regional Forestry Hubs – Key Learnings.’
Jason Wilson, who recently joined HQPlantations as CEO, discussed ‘Plantation forestry: perspectives from a major grower.’
Adam Jones, CEO of CLT Toolbox, explored ‘Timber building innovation: what is driving mass timber buildings.’ Mr. Jones recently launched the CLT Toolbox concept, a software platform that simplifies timber design for engineers, making the design more accessible and cost-effective.
David Swain, Technical manager and head of research at TerraCipher, spoke about ‘Data innovation and automation: forestry applications and outreach tools.’ TerraCipher is currently working with the regional forestry hubs to use big data analytics to improve performance in forestry.
Michael Borowick, CEO, ForestWorks, briefed attendees on the ‘Forestry Workforce Training Program.’
Clarissa Brandt, strategic relations manager, Timber Queensland, and Canopy Project manager, launched the ‘Canopy: Queensland’s Forest & Timber Industry Training Hub.’
A ‘first’ for Queensland, Brandt explained that Canopy staff will visit schools and job expos to raise career awareness and highlight the diverse opportunities available within the industry.
“Canopy will concentrate on aligning trainees and graduates’ knowledge and practical abilities with current industry needs,” Ms. Brandt said.
Simon Dorries, CEO of Responsible Wood, provided ‘An Update on Certification.’
Under the plan, PEFC aims to increase its certified forest area by 15% over the next seven years. It targets healthy forests, healthy forest communities, healthy forest workers, and a healthy forest economy.
Post Symposium Cocktail Function and Future Foresters Initiative Fundraising Event
Attendees were also invited to participate in a Future Foresters Initiative fundraising event.
The Future Foresters Initiative involves young forestry professionals and forest science students. It aims to support students and early career professionals from scientific forestry or related fields through mentoring, training, networking, and other social and professional development activities.
Sponsored by Rivers Insurance, attendees entered a competition to win $25,000 to benefit the Future Foresters Initiative.
Colin Tavener from Meyer Timber was drawn to play in the competition but did not win the game.
The fundraiser raised $1200 for Future Foresters.
Gold Sponsor Hyne Timber, Silver Sponsors HQPlantations and TerraCipher, Bronze Sponsors ForestWorks, Choice Energy, Rivers Insurance, Australian Retirement Trust, IVS Labs, and Responsible Wood supported the symposium.
Responsible Wood also sponsored a pre-symposium network function on Wednesday, and Forest Works sponsored the keynote speaker address.