$100M Australian Forest and Wood Innovations to secure sustainable future for forestry

The future of sustainable forestry received a significant boost today with the official launch of the Albanese Government’s $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program.

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

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the University of Tasmania AFWI Headquarters in Launceston would support a local AFWI research centre, with further centres planned for the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Melbourne.

“Establishing AFWI was an election commitment which we are proud to deliver and forms part of our record $300 million investment in the Australian forestry and forest product sector,” Minister Watt said.

“This program will support sustainable forestry, while also helping to deliver a future made in Australia.

“It’s an exciting time for forestry research as we work towards unlocking the full potential of wood as the ultimate renewable material and growing our forests and forestry industry.

“The three research centres will undertake research to enhance our production forests and the wood products sourced from them – managing and sustainably expanding our Australian forestry resources, transforming wood residues into renewable products and energy solutions – all while helping to address the threat of climate change.

“AFWI will draw on the best researchers and facilities across the nation to ensure Australia’s forest and wood products industries remain on the front foot, supporting applied research, development and innovation.

“We saw demand for forest products significantly increase during the Covid-19 pandemic — increasing production in our sustainably managed plantation estate and product recovery from our sawmills and wood and fibre processing plants will see us better positioned to meet demand into the future.”

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.

Minister Watt said AFWI would also shortly be announcing 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 Albanese Government is getting on with the job of protecting important industries and regional jobs by delivering on election commitments,” Minister Watt said.

“AWFI is a key part of this ensuring forestry research and innovation can continue to meet wood and fibre needs into the future.”

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