Australia’s forests deliver our communities cultural, environmental, financial, social and resource benefits. The security of these benefits requires active and innovated management strategies.
Our projects are designed to identify barrier and impediments in the design and facilitation of management strategies.
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Circular economy and wood residue
Wood residue represents an underutilised and highly valuable resource for use in various industries, including renewable bioenergy, building products, mulch, and biofilters. Despite the high versatility of residue, a recent audit of commercial and industrial waste streams found that 13% of the total materials in landfills were wood. Wood residue represents a significant opportunity to expand Australia’s bioenergy sector and support Australia’s increasing energy needs while also value-adding for the forestry industry. Following the 2019/2020 bushfires, which heavily impacted large tracts of forests in New South Wales, it is clear that both industry and members of the public are likely to benefit from investment in utilising native forest residue. This project will provide decision-makers with case studies and strategic recommendations to highlight current and potential contributions of wood residue in forestry and related industries. It will also develop an integrated stewardship strategy that addresses market development for residues and carbon reduction (including carbon-negative strategies and technology).
Growing the plantation estate requires in-depth knowledge of what trees to grow, where to grow them, and how tree establishment can contribute to environmental co-benefits. This study aims to understand priority actions for landscape planning utilizing biophysical and ecological indicators of forest suitability as characteristics of timber production and habitat values. We are creating a decision-support database using publicly available and industry spatial datasets in ArcGIS (a Geographic Information System package). We would be able to print regional-scale priority maps and associated tables and reports to assist the Hub as well future extension activities.
A guide to accessing carbon payments
There is a clear relationship between tax concessions or carbon credits and landholder willingness to consider planting trees for commercial harvest. The various government mechanisms on which these payments are not easily accessible to tree growers. A consolidation and synthesis of these carbon sequestration mechanisms is a logical way forward to incentivize and access the benefits associated with exploring long rotation cropping. However, whether or not the mechanisms are accessible does not address the on-the-ground practicality of carbon farming are practical for New South Wales. This project will create a “Growers’ Guide to Carbon Sequestration Payments in NSW” that clearly articulates in plain English the pathways and mechanisms for receipt of carbon credits and associated monetary payments (including the likely flow of payments over time) as well as potential tax concessions and deductions, concerning growing new and existing native hardwood plantations in NSW.
Demonstration days – how to manage private native forests
One component of the North East NSW Forestry Hub’s charter is encouraging landholder interest in private native forestry. Workshops have a demonstrated effectiveness in providing a tactile introduction to private native forestry framework to landholders and to contractors who might otherwise have limited experience on private land. Exposure to the Private Native Forestry regulation will also reduce regulatory uncertainty and encourage landholder compliance with environmental regulations. One-day field-based workshops have been shown to boost landholder interest in private native forestry and increase the chance of participation in further workshops. They also provide an introduction to the PNF framework to contractors with limited experience on private land. LLS co-manages a small number of PNF demonstration sites in NSW to hold field-based training and extension activities. Consequently, and in partnership with Local Land Services, the Hub has commissioned a series of “demonstration days” across the region. LLS will deliver 6 one-day field-based workshops per year, with a target attendance of 15 – 20 people per field day and up to 120 people per year.
Forests play an essential socio-cultural role for many Indigenous communities across Northern NSW. The importance of land to traditional owners is widely recognised, but the integration of Indigenous communities and voices into the industry is unrealised. Consequently, there is a significant opportunity to engage Indigenous communities in building competitive and ecologically sustainable forest industries. These industries may explore the yet underutilised areas of the forestry sector including the further development of non-wood products (i.e., bush foods, traditional medicines, tourism and conservation), wood products and the utilisation of new commercial species. The first step in achieving this is to develop practical and realistic strategies for industry engagement to achieve the multiple rural and regional benefits.
Why do people plant trees?
In the wake of the 2020 Black Summer bushfires, potential growers may be reticent to capitalise on the opportunities to grow long-term crops. This report will synthesize barriers to potential growers (increasing capacity, motivational or attitudinal barriers, or access limitations). By addressing all aspects of social and landscape constraints, the Hub and its associated partners will be better informed when approaching landholders regarding future opportunities and options. This critical project will ensure that socio-ecological benefits for the region are maximised, and provide community outreach regarding forestry operations is accurate – highlighting the best practice and value of local producers.
To identify and describe landholder attitudes towards timber values on their property, we propose semi-structured interviews with randomly sampled landholders in the region. We suggest collecting data through survey across the project region to capture a snapshot of the landholder’s demographics, social leanings, land management practices, and aspirations. This information will be used to categorise participants into landholder’ typologies’.
Establishing patterns of differences or similarities between landholders’ typologies can be used to understand and define variation in the community. Landholders may be categorised by the attributes of their land, i.e., size, use, percent income based on production; personal attributes: gender, age, education level, income and off-farm income; also, length of tenure, management practices, and beliefs (Fulton & Race 2001).
When considering the factors that will encourage private landholders to invest in timber production, it is essential to evaluate what will pique the interest of the landholder rather than the needs and objectives of the government or forest agency. Understanding the barriers or motivations to manage properties for timber production is essential for better designing and targeting incentives to specific owner groups.
Transport bottlenecks and co-benefits
In northern New South Wales, the forestry industry extends from the Queensland border out to Goondowindi, down to Narrabri and the ourskirts north of Sydney. It contains a mixture of hardwood and softwood plantations. Once harvested, these logs are usually transported to a local sawmill and then onto markets or export ports or additional processing such as ply mills. Other supply chain paths include wood chips or poles for export or pulp milling. In northern NSW, harvested timber is road transported, usually transported in vehicles that are configured for Performance-Based Standard (PBS) 1a roads (up to 19 meters) or PBS 2a (up to 26 meters or B-Double limitation). A large portion of the road network in the vicinity of the NSW Forest region, particularly local roads, is PBS1 limited due to bridge limitations, gradient, culverts, etc. Constraints such as those listed above restrict the opportunity to utilise higher productivity vehicles that could reduce Infrastructure investments to determine the impact of identified bottlenecks to minimize transport costs for harvested timber and other freight. The challenges are applying an evidence-based approach to understanding the transport cost reduction from each investment option and prioritizing the investments to achieve the most considerable overall cost reduction.
There are known impediments to practicality and efficiency for agricultural and timber industries: access, travel distance, road quality, or B Double roads in priority (wood basket) areas. Identifying priority areas (bridges, road links, modal shift) for improvements would mutually benefit industries and regions in northern NSW by improving the efficiency and safety of transport within current and future harvesting locations. Through consultation with the 31 local governments in the study region, this project will identify a list of priority transport bottlenecks for timber transport and apply CSIRO’s TraNSIT to provide an evidence-based understanding of the transport cost reductions from the upgrade and infrastructure investment options.
Smart futures- skills and training gaps in the region
Natural resource management in forests and forestry represents an underutilised opportunity for research, innovation, and implementation through on-the-ground operations. Previous research indicates increasing demand in traditional wood and paper product markets and new opportunities in bioenergy and innovative new products (i.e. nano-crystalline cellulose and cross-laminated timber). To effectively anticipate and plan for society’s needs and demands, the industry requires an equipped with both high order and broad-based skills across various disciplines, including wood science and engineering, advanced technical and digital analytical skills, research and development skills, and strategic leadership skills. Identifying opportunities to meet the industry’s professional development and skill enhancement opportunities must be addressed and highlighted to attract future workers in the next five to ten years. Importantly, this analysis will help potential employers in terms of the practical skills likely to be needed.
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