Highlights from the 2023 Gottstein Forest Science Course

Course gets green tick from attendees.

Thu 03 Aug 23


An enthusiastic group of 34 people left the NSW north coast with a spring in their step.

They had just completed a week of learning and networking at the 2023 Gottstein Trust Understanding Forest Science course.

The course, which ran from 16th to 21st July, featured many prominent presenters.

The research community presenters included Dr Angus Carnegie, who heads up the NSW Department of Primary Industries Forest Science Research team; Dr Brad Law, a groundbreaking researcher of koala presence in forests; Dr Fabiano Ximenes, a carbon expert in forestry and timber products and Dr Christine Stone, a renowned remote sensing forests technology expert.

Andrew Hurford, executive chair of Hurford Group and president of Timber NSW, presented on farm forestry. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

A very experienced roll up of industry people delivered presentations – among them were Michael Ryan, a forest scientist with VicForests, Braden Jenkin founder Sylva Systems Pty Ltd. in Gippsland, Rob de Fégely AM from Margules Groome, Justin Crowe from Forest Corp NSW and Suzette Weeding from Sustainable Timber Tasmania who is chair of the Gottstein Trust.

Michael Ryan with Helen Murray, Dr Christine Stone and Suzette Weeding. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

People from Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, regional NSW, Sydney and Victoria attended. Working in all sorts of roles, the period that course participants have worked in the sector ranged from over ten years to brand new.

Forest Corp NSW had a strong contingent throughout the week. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

The group included forestry operations and planning people, processing people, investment people and non-executive directors.

“We are so pleased that the majority of attendees rated the course as excellent, which I think reflects the very high standard of presenters, including those involved in the field trips,” said course convenor Helen Murray.

“Many people also identified multiple benefits from attending the course, even those who’ve worked in the industry for years.”

This was the first time the Gottstein course had been held in Coffs Harbour. “The close proximity to a fascinating range of forest activities and sites for field trips was the drawcard to stage it there,” Ms Murray said.

The conference was based at the Pacific Bay Resort in Coffs Harbour. (Photo Credit: Supplied)

Suzette Weeding, chair of the Gottstein Trust, was present with the group throughout the week.

“She’s a very interesting course presenter about biodiversity in the forests. The methods forest managers have at their disposal to detect and monitor endangered species and associated habitat continue improving with rapid technological advances.”

“We sincerely thank the Forestry Corp NSW north coast region team members for making their time and expertise available for course participants to see, hear and learn on the field trips, particularly Justin Black, the central person we collaborated with,” said Ms Murray.

Justin Black and Justin Crowe (Forestry Corp NSW) at the celebration dinner. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

The first field trip went to the Grafton seedling nursery, then to the bush fire and flood-impacted softwood plantations north of Grafton.

Justin Black – Forestry Corp of NSW’s Strategic Projects and Program Leader, took attendees to a Tree Nursery in Grafton, NSW. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Gottstein Trust)

The second field trip saw native forests in the Coffs Harbour hinterland and also viewed a hardwood plantation.

Helen Murray, Bronwyn Herbert (from the ABC), Suzette Weeding on native forests field trip. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

“The use of technology in the NSW native forests is remarkable – able to electronically mark individual trees including those which are koala habitat.”

“Many people were stunned to see such sophisticated technology in the forests.”

“I personally wish the public and policymakers could see this firsthand too. It is a testimony to those working in and devoted to native forest stewardship.”

The group enjoyed learning about local Aboriginal cultural heritage with a Giingan Gumbaynggirr First Nation guide.

John Shipton, from Forestry Corp NSW and Leanne Sommer, from Queensland DPI, chat before the celebration dinner. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Gottstein Trust)

This was on site at the eco-tourism hub established by Forest Corp NSW at Sealy Lookout, a beautiful forest location overlooking the ocean above Coffs Harbour.

Forest Corp NSW spoke about burning country during the tour of the forests. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

Among the guests who travelled to Coffs Harbour to join participants and speakers for the course celebration dinner were the leaders of five of Gottstein Trust’s valued industry donors. They were Anshul Chaudhary, CEO of ForestCorp NSW; Steve Whiteley, CEO of Sustainable Timber Tasmania; Timber NSW president Andrew Hurford, executive chair of the Hurford Group, with his wife Gaela and Rob de Fégely AM, founding director of Margules Groome – and a prominent industry board director and a former president of Forestry Australia.

Ben Storer, from the Forest Practices Authority, Tasmania and presenter Dr Steve Read from ABARES.

The dinner speaker was recently minted Gottstein Fellow Jason Ross, publisher of Wood Central, who travelled from Brisbane to share his fellowship project insights on methods available to the sector to improve its approach to communications, including actively collaborating to amplify messages.

Jason Ross, Gottstein Trust fellow with Suzette Weeding at the celebration dinner. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

The Trust also appreciated the presence of David McPherson at the celebration dinner. He is the Deputy Director of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and is based at Coffs Harbour.

Andrew Hurford with Suzette Weeding at the conference. (Photo Credit: Gottstein Trust).

Jonathan Tibbits travelled to be there representing Responsible Wood.

Southern Cross University was represented at the dinner by Professor Nigel Andrew, Dr Jerry Vanclay and Dr Graeme Palmer – who had delivered a setting-the-scene presentation on day 1 of the course.


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