Forestry industry stakeholders are the central plank of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project to identify the growth potential for northern Australia’s forestry and forestry products industry.

Speaking in Cairns today Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan announced the $209,300 CRCNA research collaboration with Timber Queensland (TQ), the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources (NT DPIR), Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).

The 10-month project will also work with several key industry stakeholders including the Forest Products Commission Western Australia, Plantation Management Partners, Midway, HQPlantations, Simms Group, DTM Timber/Branch 95, Quintis Ltd and Alpha Santanol, to deliver a comprehensive overview of the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Senator Canavan said given the goal of growing the national forestry industry, the north could present new opportunities.

“This project will look at northern Australia as an important part of Australia’s forestry story and provide a road map for the industry to really look at what they need to do to stimulate and drive future industry growth,” he said.

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the research will provide a snapshot of the current and emerging issues facing the industry and consider the sustainable management of natural resources and economic, social and environmental development goals.

“It will explore potential policy, investment and other solutions to barriers preventing industry development and will identify the most strategic research projects for further investment, which will be critical to stimulating industry growth.

“The findings will allow indigenous and non-indigenous landholders, stakeholders, investors and policy makers to make informed decisions regarding developing sustainable forestry enterprises in northern Australia,” he said.

Timber Queensland’s CEO Mick Stephens said the project will review key strategic documents and regulatory frameworks in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland, and will identify the extent of commercially productive resources including native, plantation and farm forests.

“Once we’ve established this baseline of information, we will seek input from industry players, representatives of indigenous communities and other rural stakeholders, regional business groups, government agencies and academic institutions,” he said.

“A project Steering Committee comprising relevant representatives will be announced in early April and regional forums will be held in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia in June and July,” said Mr Stephens.

It is expected this Steering Committee will assume the role of an Industry Development Alliance and continue to provide oversight regarding the ongoing growth and health of the industry beyond the life of the project.

NT DPIR Director Plant Industries Dr Mila Bristow said the project will help identify challenges and opportunities facing the NT’s forestry operations and development.

“NT DPIR is excited to partner with our forestry industries to determine the sector-wide priorities and better understand how we can support sustainable development in the sector.”

The CRCNA’s northern Australia forest and forest products industry situational analysis project is one of eight industry situational analyses funded by the CRCNA in 2017/18 including aquaculture, rice, cropping, horticulture, bush foods, beef, health and infrastructure and communication sectors.

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