Active and adaptive forest management and increased integration of Indigenous knowledge with Western scientific evidence and technologies are key to restoring and maintaining the health of Australia’s forests, the Forestry Australia national conference heard on its opening day.
Forestry Australia Vice President Dr Michelle Freeman and Fellow Dr Bill Jackson said there was an urgent need for a new shared vision about how Australia managed its forests.
“After what we’ve seen in past summers, and what we know is to come, reducing the potential for catastrophic bushfires across all types of forest and increasing the resilience of forests to climate change should be top of the list for Australia as a nation,” Dr Freeman said.
“The Forestry Australia Conference provides an opportunity to promote cooperation, moving beyond the era of conflict and encouraging genuine and effective relationships with Indigenous people and local communities to better manage our forests together.
“We believe that a more balanced and holistic approach to forest management is needed and indeed is within our reach if we can agree to a new shared vison and adjust forest management to restore the health of forests.”
Dr Jackson and Dr Freeman identified three key strategies which could be followed to strengthen and improve forest management in Australia.
“Firstly, we must establish new shared governance models that bring together government agencies with Indigenous Australians and actors from the private sector and civil society,” Dr Jackson said.
“Second, we need to prioritise and promote active and adaptive management across forest landscapes that builds resilience in our forests, local communities and society.
“Finally, integrating traditional knowledge with Western scientific evidence and innovative technologies to enhance forest management for improved resilience and other outcomes.
“Setting a clear and shared vision to address these strategies also offers an opportunity to recognise all forest values and to promote approaches that return Indigenous people to the centre of forest management decisions.”
Forestry Australia President Bob Gordon said in addition to a host of speakers on a wide range of topics, day one of the conference saw Senator the Hon. Jonathon Duniam present certificates to Future Foresters Initiative Scholarship Recipients. The Scholarship program funded by the DAWE Leadership Grant supported 21 future foresters to participate in the conference in person or online.
“It was great to hear from the Assistant Minister for Forestry about the Government’s recognition of the vital role forest scientists, growers and professionals play in informing policy decisions to ensure our forests can continue to deliver the greatest benefit to society.
“It was also exciting for Senator Duniam to be here in his own state and see so many delegates from across the nation come together in what is an attendance record for a forestry conference.”
Day two of the conference heard Victor Steffensen, Co-Founder, Firesticks Alliance & The National Indigenous Fire Workshop talk to his keynote: Aligning Our Future Through Those Who Have Walked Before Us.