A record 450 forestry experts converged for ANZIF 2023

November 21, 2023

The Australia New Zealand Institute of Forestry conference was recently held in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, with a record of 475 delegates in attendance, representing a broad range of Australian and New Zealand stakeholders.

The theme of the conference, ‘Embracing Our Natural Capital: The Science, Technology and Art of Managing Forests For All Values’, facilitated the conversations and collaboration. It aimed to highlight the need for active and adaptive management of our natural capital using evidence-based and emerging innovation, technology, skills and knowledge to support our forests and secure our future.

More than 130 speakers including forest scientists, agro-foresters, and traditional owners presented at the conference. The program facilitated both structured and informal dialogue and networking and incorporated a day of field sessions.

Focus was on the roles innovation, technology, skills and knowledge play in supporting resilient and healthy forests, as well as the importance of robust relationships and partnerships to support the industry. Sessions were dedicated to fostering education partnerships to encourage new entrants into the forestry sector, as well as building professional networks in various Pacific nations such as Fiji, Vanuatu, and Samoa.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA) sponsored two biosecurity focused sessions. Paco Tovar, AFPA’s Biosecurity Manager, introduced the ForestWatch Australia program, which aims to build capacity within forest biosecurity through the delivery of stakeholder training materials. Other presentations addressed specific forest pests and their management, as well as collaborations with neighbouring countries and indigenous groups to improve forest biosecurity.

Indigenous forestry also received considerable attention, with numerous presentations highlighting the contributions of traditional owners in both northern and southern Australia. Notably, a delegation of traditional owners involved in the ‘Safeguarding Indigenous-led Forestry in Northern Australia’ project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and coordinated by PHA, also attended.

Presentations highlighted the vital role of forests in supporting biodiversity, creating habitats, and building ‘natural capital.’ The conference also explored the role of forestry, particularly farm forestry, in offsetting carbon emissions, emphasizing the industry’s contribution to carbon reduction efforts.

Other topics covered during the conference included fire management, forest production and harvesting, farm forestry, and the role of technology in forestry practices, including remote sensing using satellite, fixed wing and drone technology and ArborCarbon’s aerial mapping program.

Education and student presentations were also prominent, showcasing the importance of forest education programs and providing a platform for students to share their research and insights. Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in field trips exploring various aspects of the industry.

ANZIF provided a valuable platform for industry professionals, researchers, and stakeholders to exchange knowledge, foster partnerships, and address critical issues facing the forestry sector. With its diverse range of sessions and engaging discussions, the event showcased the industry’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, and collaboration.