Forest and Wood RD&E Strategy
Australia’s forest and wood products sector directly employs 67,000 people and generates an annual turnover of more than $24 billion.
The longer-term outlook for the sector is very positive. In the next decade and beyond, it can increase its already substantial contribution to national social, economic and environmental goals.
However, at the same time the sector must cope with an increasingly complex and competitive production and market environment, evolving climate-change policy, and the need to realise and demonstrate sustainability.
To meet these opportunities and challenges, effective and efficient research, development and extension (RD&E) is essential.
Over the past three decades there has been a decline both in total research funding and in research intensity, mainly due to an ageing demographic among researchers in some disciplines, the restructuring of RD&E providers, and less available resources.
Accordingly, there is a greater need than ever for a co-ordinated national RD&E initiative for the forest and wood products sector.
In line with the national RD&E strategy framework, the forest and wood products sector strategy seeks to achieve several key outcomes:
- enhanced competitiveness of forest products in relation to other materials
- robust sustainability measures
- the expansion of wood resources
- improved forest management practices through a culture of continuous learning and improvement
- a biosecure forest industry
- increased accessibility of information about the sector
About the National RD&E framework
In response to a recognition of similar needs and goals across a variety of primary industries, the National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework has been developed by the Commonwealth Government.
The framework is designed to enable strong collaboration between various stakeholders as well as between the various primary and cross-sector industry sectors. As spelled out on the NPIRDEF website:
The National RD&E Framework supports a strong culture of collaboration and coordination between the bodies, strengthens national research capability to better address sector and cross sector issues and focuses [RD&E] resources so they are used more effectively, efficiently and collaboratively, thereby reducing capability gaps, fragmentation and unnecessary duplication in primary industries RD&E.
The Framework’s goal is to further the RD&E capabilities of the following primary and cross-industry sectors:
- Fishing & Aquaculture
- Food & Nutrition
- Forest & Wood Products
- New & Emerging Industries
- Sheep Meat
The national Framework also identifies cross-sector strategies which refer to broader fields of research that overlap with the interests of the primary sectors and the community as a whole.
- Animal Biosecurity
- Animal Welfare
- Biofuels & Bioenergy
- Climate Change
- Plant Biosecurity
- Water Use in Agriculture
Cross-sector strategies aim to foster collaboration so RD&E resources are used more efficiently while avoiding duplication in primary industries RD&E.
Forest and Wood RD&E Development Process
Extensive stakeholder consultation with representatives of the forest and wood products sector, government, and the providers and funders of forest and wood product RD&E culminated in the publication of the Forest and Wood Products Sector RD&E strategy in March 2012.
This strategy focuses on the sector’s forest-growing, wood-harvesting and wood-processing components, and the marketing and use of wood products in construction and other applications, called here the forest and wood products sector. The strategy also integrates the management of the sector with sustainable natural resource management and the multiple environmental and social benefits of forests. Major products in the sector include primary-processed wood products used in building and construction and the manufacture of furniture and other higher-value products; pulp and paper products; bioenergy and biomaterials; and engineered wood products.
Forest and Wood Products RD&E Forum
Throughout the development of the strategy there was general agreement among contributors on the need to explore options for change; align investment; and integrate service delivery wherever possible. Existing mechanisms were seen as providing inadequate engagement for this purpose, leading to proposals for a forum with suitable terms of reference that would engage in a level of ongoing detailed discussion and action on collaboration and coordination between funders, providers and users that has not been seen as necessary in the past.
The Forum operates at a national level and consists of 12 individuals drawn from the categories of: key funders, providers, and users of forest and wood products sector RD&E.