$100M Australian Forest and Wood Innovations officially opens

$100M Australian Forest and Wood Innovations officially opens

Posted 13 March 2024

Timber Economics Carbon Biodiversity PFT

The future of sustainable forestry received a significant boost this week with the official launch of the $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program.

AFWI is a collaboration between the Federal Government and the University of Tasmania, committed to advancing research and innovation in Australian forest and wood products.

Private Forests Tasmania is a supporter of AFWI. PFT's agriforester and Tasmanian Forestry Australia Chair, Molly Marshall, was invited to share her thoughts on AFWI at the launch.

She said the launch signalled endless possibilities.

"When I normally am asked to speak, I know about the outcomes or outputs of the topic prior, but in this instance I will be talking about possibilities. Albert Einstein once said, 'To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science’. And that for me is what I believe the possibility of AFWI is.

"There are a few things for me that stand out in AFWI purpose and influences. That includes the three areas of research development and engagement (climate change solutions, sustainable forests for our future and making the most of our available wood fibre). The alignment of these three pillars along with the emphasis on the end user and industry support; to me sends a strong signal to those in the sector that practical industry focused innovation should occur across the whole supply chain."

Molly said AFWI was an opportunity for job creation in Launceston and Tasmania.

"Through showcasing the work which will be achieved here in Launceston, on a national and international scale, we can further demonstrate that forestry is a prosperous career pathway. One which offers purpose, adaptability, innovation and is a leader at using science-based evidence to determine the management of one of our most renewable resources."

The AFWI Board is chaired by Mr Bob Gordon and includes nine other members with industry and forestry research experience, an understanding of workers’ needs, First Nations perspectives and from the Commonwealth.

AFWI will create opportunities for innovation and support the development of researchers to support the sectors’ future, building on the work the existing regional National Institute for Forest Products Innovation centres have already delivered.

AFWI will soon announce the opening of the first of four, $5 million annual national open calls for forestry research projects. The annual national open calls will be open to applications from all Australian-based researchers supporting the forest industry, and not be limited to the research centres established by AFWI.

The University of Tasmania's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black, said the university was excited to bring world leading research to answer questions that will help accelerate the role of forestry and wood products in meeting the challenge of climate change and building a circular economy.

"AFWI will provide the skills and knowledge to support sustainable production of wood products, protect biodiversity and multiple forest values, and ensure the national sector is at the forefront of innovation and climate action,” Professor Black said.

"We are the number one university in the world for climate action according to the Times Higher Education impact rankings and we are committing to supporting the transition to a low-emissions global economy we need to make – wood must play a big part in that future.”

For more information visit: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/forestry/national/australian-forest-and-wood-innovations.