The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) welcomed today’s launch of the $4 million National Institute for Forests Products Innovation (NIFPI) hub in Launceston.

“After many months of work and investment from both the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Government, it’s great to see the opening of the hub at the University of Tasmania, Launceston campus today. We particularly welcome the establishment of a regional committee to help shape research and development (R&D) priorities for this hub. We want the Institute to help make Australia a world leader in forest product innovation and grasp new opportunities in the emerging bioeconomy,” AFPA CEO, Mr Ross Hampton, said.

Importantly, the Institute’s regional committee announced today includes a broad cross-section of representatives with a strong link to the national plantation, hardwood and softwood timber processing, paper manufacturing and the emerging bioproducts sectors, which will ensure that the Institute retains its national focus and can leverage industry co-contributions for projects of national significance whilst ensuring regional representation.

“This hub in the University’s School of Architecture and Design is one of two, with the other to be established in Mount Gambier in South Australia, and will play a critical role boosting innovation in research and jobs connected to forest industries.

“It’s our expectation that the Launceston node will have a primary, but not exclusive focus on research related to hardwood, while the Mount Gambier hub will have a similar focus on softwood. We believe the Federal Government is open to considering future nodes with other areas of primary focus, for example farm forestry or biomaterials and AFPA is happy to assist.”

FIAT CEO, Mr Terry Edwards, said Tasmania has had a long history of innovation in forest products R&D and forest management.

“The new Institute hub will drive ways to ensure that Tasmania produces innovative renewable forest products in a carbon constrained global economy, thereby helping support, and looking to expand the 3,600 jobs that currently rely on the Tasmanian forest industry. We also welcome the flow-on benefits to the rest of the country,” Mr Edwards said.

“The Institute will ensure that the industry in Tasmania can stay to the forefront of innovation to ensure optimisation of the benefits to be derived from the careful and sustainable management of our forest resources into the future.

“We thank all of the proponents, including Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon Anne Ruston and Tasmania’s Minister for Resources, the Hon Guy Barnett for making it happen,” Mr Hampton and Mr Edwards concluded.