A new shared vision for Australia’s forests

17 March 2021

A paper published yesterday in Australian Forestry has called for the development of a new shared vision for the management of Australia’s forests. The paper Reshaping forest management in Australia to provide nature-based solutions to global challenges, by Dr William Jackson and other members of the IFA/AFG, says it is time to move beyond the era of conflict and develop more holistic approaches that encompass all forest values, such as water, biodiversity, tourism and forest products, across the landscape. More collaborative approaches will be required to galvanise the resources, skills and knowledge that enables this shift in shared governance.

“Recent bushfires in Australia have heightened concerns that the management of public forests has largely failed to ensure the health of forest ecosystems, build resilience, and secure a promised balance between economic, social and environmental values”, Dr Jackson said.

“Climate change is our common enemy, and efforts to date aimed at adapting forest management to address climate change have been limited. Furthermore, empowering and increasing the role of Indigenous Australians in forest management could be significantly improved.”

Vice President of the IFA/AFG and co-author of the paper, Dr Michelle Freeman has observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need to improve the resilience of regional communities to major shocks and stresses related to market dynamics, supply-chain disruptions and natural disasters. “We need to reshape forest management in Australia to provide nature-based solutions to global challenges”, Dr Freeman said.

“Our paper sets out three key strategies to strengthen forest management in Australia. First, we need to establish new shared governance models that bring together government agencies with Indigenous Australians and stakeholders from the private sector and civil society.

“Second, we need to extend active and adaptive management across forest landscapes to build resilience in our forests, local communities and society.

“And third, we need to integrate traditional knowledge with scientific evidence and innovative technologies to inform forest policy and enhance forest management outcomes. Through these strategies, we can conserve forests for a broader range of values, and proactively manage current pressures and increasing threats from climate change and the interrelated impacts of bushfires and invasive species”.

In the words of European forest researchers, adaptive forest management is required as part of global efforts to “manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable”; and will support Australia’s transition to a more circular economy based on the use of renewable resources and reduced dependency on imported products.

The paper, Reshaping forest management in Australia to provide nature-based solutions to global challenges, is available to read in full here.

The authors of the paper are members of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG), which is the peak organisation representing some 1,000 scientific and professional forest land managers in Australia. Australian Forestry is the quarterly scientific journal of the IFA/AFG. Australian Forestry Journal has published peer-reviewed research articles since 1936.

Media contact:
David Abbott
Font PR
0400 446 736