Opinion: Standing up for our profession

Thursday 28 Mar 2024

Having a high profile should not provide anyone a free pass to speak disrespectfully and unfairly about others.

Forestry Australia is appalled by the misinformation about forest scientists and professionals that has been perpetuated by lobbyists and anti-forestry campaigners in recent media articles. It is hard not to think that such narratives have been constructed to suit certain agendas. Statements made are not universally supported by forest scientists, and do not recognise the knowledge, expertise and credibility of Australia’s world-leading forest scientists. It is also disappointing that recent coverage has not included these other voices.

Forestry Australia is a not-for-profit, independent professional association with 1,200 members. Our members are individuals who have high levels of scientific expertise and extensive operational experience. They operate across all aspects of forest, fire and land management, farm forestry and tree growing throughout Australia. Some of our members are current or past employees of State forest agencies responsible for timber harvesting.

These forest scientists and professionals are among the most dedicated and passionate individuals, who make significant and under-acknowledged contributions to forest management, forest conservation and provision of renewable, sustainable and responsibly-sourced timber for the Australian public. This contribution furthers our understanding of forest ecology and forest fire management. It also includes operational expertise in active and adaptive management options that are crucial for building climate resilience and mitigating wildfires.

These forest scientists make significant contributions to managing and conserving our forests for the benefit of society. They provide elite and specialised fire fighting capacity to all major wildfire events, collect and apply seed to revegetate forests severely degraded by bushfires, and are at the forefront of technological advancement such as drones and sophisticated apps to record and monitor forest values. In addition, they conduct the most comprehensive threatened species monitoring programs that exist in this country, and oversee comprehensive management plans that provide high quality, sustainable local hardwood timbers.

It is time to move on from these tiresome, divisive and outmoded forest wars. Australia needs forest management decisions to be informed by pragmatic, open-minded, evidence-based and credible voices who engaged in positive dialogue regarding future forest management. In doing so, it is only right that we recognise the immense positive contributions of the forest scientists and forestry professionals who have dedicated their careers to evidence-based care for our forests.

Dr Michelle Freeman, President Forestry Australia

Source: Forestry Australia

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