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Friday analysis: The heavy hitters of Forestry Australia

It suddenly becomes very obvious, if it wasn’t already, that Forestry Australia boasts some of the heaviest hitters in forestry in this country.

For those who may still be in the dark about this organisation, Forestry Australia is an independent professional association of more than 1200 forest scientists, managers and growers who work in native forests, plantations and provision of environmental services.

And at this year’s ANZIF conference on the Gold Coast Forestry Australia showed off its Top Guns by bestowing its prestigious Forestry Australia Fellow on nine new recipients.

Such status has only been awarded to 84 Australians since the first Fellow was inducted in 1969.

The 2023 Forestry Australia Fellows are:

  • Bob Gordon, TAS
  • Dr Kevin Harding, QLD
  • Dr Lachie McCaw, WA
  • Dr Michelle Freeman, VIC
  • Dr Stuart Davey, ACT
  • Ruth Ryan, VIC
  • Penny Wells, TAS
  • Peter Fagg, VIC
  • Rob de Fegely, NSW

This is a solid brigade of forestry experts.

Forestry Australia CEO Jacquie Martin said a Forestry Australia Fellow is an honour bestowed on exceptional individuals who have made an indelible contribution to forestry.

And she pointed out that the nine named this week – the largest such number named in one go – was a sign of the growing strength of Australia’s sustainable forestry sector.

Two other awards, which go a long way in backing Ms Martin’s belief, were also presented: the N.W. Jolly Medal and the Prince of Wales Award.

The N.W. Jolly Medal is the highest honour for outstanding service to the forest science profession in Australia.

It recognises contributions from across the full scope of forestry and reflecting the diversity of significant contributions being made across a wide range of disciplines and forest management activities. In this context, forestry includes the sustainable management, development and use of forests for the diversity of goods and services that forest ecosystems provide, whether for public, private or commercial purposes, including education, research and development, forest policy and all types of forest land management.

The Award is named in honour of Norman William Jolly (1882-1954), who made an outstanding contribution to development of professional forestry in Australia in the first half of the 20th Century.

This year’s N.W Jolly Award went jointly to the late Dr Kevin Tolhurst who passed away suddenly earlier this month, and forestry scientist and world renowned agroforester Rowan Reid.

Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freeman said the award was a timely opportunity to cele-brate the achievements of Dr Tolhurst.

And she described Mr Reid as a visionary who had put his knowledge into practice with his family farm in the Otway Ranges, Bambra Agroforestry Farm.

The Prince of Wales Award is awarded in recognition of the achievement of an outstanding young to mid-career forest professional and this year went to Tasmania’s Jenna Hammond.

Ms Hammond is a Communications Advisor at Sustainable Timber Tasmania. Her work involves communicating with the media, State Government, internal and external stakeholders and employees through a variety of channels and traditional and social media platforms. She is passionate about sharing stories as a means of educating and bringing knowledge to different publics about forestry.

Dr Freeman said that Ms Hammond was a role-model for young forest professionals and had helped to develop and deliver a highly successful communications campaign that aimed to attract, retain, and support women in the forestry sector.

The bestowing of these honours and awards indicate that not only has Forestry Australia achieved a reputation as a heavy hitter, but that it will continue to grow as a force to be reckoned with for forestry in Australia well into the future.