Forestry is no longer a 20th Century economy but a part of the new economy in a world coping with carbon pollution.
“There are big ambitions for forestry in Australia’s 21st Century economy as illustrated by what the Australian Government is proposing under its emissions trading scheme,” says CSU researcher Dr Digby Race.
“Forestry is to play a central role in Australia’s response to carbon pollution and while it is still a proposal, it is clear that the Australian Government sees a big future in terms of the role of forestry. This view is shared by many other governments around the world.”
Dr Race, a research fellow with the University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society, is the convenor of a major national forestry conference to be held in Albury next month, 19 -22 October. The theme of the Australian Forest Growers National Conference is “Forestry For a Better Future: climate, commerce and communities”.
He says Australia is well placed to make forestry a central part of its emissions trading scheme.
“We have got the land base, the forestry experience, and the climate, environmental conditions and means for integrating forestry into our rural landscapes,” he says.
“The recipe for successful forestry is still being written and there are many good recipes out there. Things like climate change and emission trading schemes have the potential to change what forests we grow, where we grow them and how we manage them. These are quite profound questions for forest growers and policy makers that offer some really exciting opportunities.”
Dr Race says the national conference, which is held every second year, is “very much an integrated robust national conversation about forestry and its place in the economy and catchments, and socially.”
It brings together small and large scale forest growers, researchers, government policy makers, program managers and the diverse private sector (brokers, processors and manufacturers.
Keynote speakers at the conference are:
• Barney Foran, an adjunct ILWS futures analyst talking on “Australian forestry for a better future: Challenges, opportunities and strategies”
• Rowan Reid, tree grower and lecturer at the University of Melbourne on “Sustaining growers’ enthusiasm for small-scale forestry”
• Roger Sands, forest scientist and educator and recently Head of New Zealand’s School of Forestry on “The relationship between forests and agriculture – an historical and international perspective.”
Dr Race says the field trips were an important part of the conference which show the diversity of forestry in the wider Murray region, and its diverse applications.
“The conference will about forestry in a changing climate,” says Dr Race. “For example emissions trading will be well explained.”
He says ILWS, a leading research institute, has been very interested in the role of forestry in our rural landscapes and communities for many years.
“It seems a very logical progression that we should play a major role in hosting this important national conference.”
Dr Race says forestry, in the past, has suffered from a narrow stereo-type, that it was just about pine plantations and large scale processors.
“Twenty first century Australian forestry is that and much, much more and includes small scale integrated forests managed for a wide range of environmental, aesthetic and economic reasons,” he says.
“I think the interest from private landholders ebbs and flows with opportunities. In the 1990s opportunities for leasing land to large forestry growing companies were popular. I suspect, if and when the emission trading scheme is implemented, said to be 2010 which isn’t far away, it will add to the considerable interest and participation in forest growing from small and large landholders.”
For further information about the AFG conference go to www.afg.asn.au