Research investment vital to keep our forests safe

Friday 26 Nov 2021

In the session ‘Forest health and biosecurity – a good news story’ leaders in the field of Australian forest health and biosecurity came together to highlight current research projects and discuss broader implications for the forestry industry.

The session was part of the 2021 Forestry Australia Conference held in Launceston, Tasmania. Jodie Mason, Forest Research Manager at Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), spoke about the need for increased investment in forest biosecurity and forest research.

Research and development funding has decreased by 80 per cent in the past decade and the number of forest researchers has decreased by 95 per cent (Source: Australian Forest Products Association). To address these issues, Mason worked with a group of FWPA members, through the Grower Research Advisory Committee, and developed eight investment plans to inform and promote investment in forest research, development and extension.

The investment plans were finalised with a budget of AU$53 million over five years, which could deliver an AU$700 million financial benefit to the industry. Over AU$10 million has already been invested in identified priority projects, with funding from industry and the Australian government.

One plan, the damage agents investment plan, focusses on agreed priorities for forest health and biosecurity research. It includes environmental influences like drought and heatwave and long-established physical pests like sirex, leaf beetle, eucalypt weevil and browsing animals, as well as newly established pests such as myrtle rust and giant pine scale.

“The damage agents investment plan identifies RD&E priorities to address current and emerging forest health and biosecurity issues. Tackling these threats is essential for the Australian forest industry to thrive. It’s great to see the industry taking up the challenge with increased levels of investment in these areas,” said Mason.

“The conference was a great opportunity for sharing knowledge and our collective efforts to better protect our forests and grow our industry,” said Mason. “The forest health session showcased the benefits of research investment.”

Source: FWPA

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