Forest industries innovation funding welcomed for Launceston R&D centre, but sustained national approach needed

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) welcome the Federal and Tasmanian Governments announcement of more than $4 million in research funding for forestry projects at Launceston’s National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) centre, but recognise sustained national funding is needed for forestry-related research.
“This second round of research funding in Launceston will deliver eight new projects that will help advance forest product industries in Tasmania, but also nationally,” FIAT Chair, Mr Glenn Britton said.
“Research projects into things like the impact of moisture content in the supply chain, the reliability of different species and the feasibility of a pellet-based industry in Tasmania is exactly what’s needed after a decade where the number of forest-related researchers nationally has declined,” Mr Britton concluded.
“AFPA certainly welcomes this new funding which will boost R&D across a range of areas. The two established NIFPI centres, in Launceston and Mount Gambier are working well in fostering research. However, all committed funding has now been exhausted,” AFPA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ross Hampton said.
“Last year, the Federal Government committed to establishing at least another two NIFPI centres and Assistant Minister responsible for Forestry, Senator Richard Colbeck has so far alluded to three new locations: WA, NSW and QLD.
“I encourage the Government to commit to establishing these new centres and underpin the existing centres with proper ongoing funding, to continue to help reverse the serious decline in forest-related research capacity in Australia. The latest State of the Forests Report reported there were 733 forest scientists in 2008, but in 2016 there were just 276.
“Ahead of the Federal Election, AFPA is calling for $40 million to support growth of the NIFPI model, expanding research in new locations and guaranteeing funding at the existing centres. To create 20,000 new jobs across the sector, research funding is critical,” Mr Hampton concluded.


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