AFG looks to the future
AUSTRALIAN FOREST Growers immediate past-President (2009-2014) and Board member since 2006, David Fisken, and Greg Unwin, Director since 2011, did not seek re-election to the Board this year . Four current Directors, Kevin Harding (North QLD), Ian Hall (WA), Tim Gillespie-Jones ( NSW) and Judy Alexander (VIC) re-nominated for Board positions and were joined by Carol Neal (SE QLD) to fill the five vacancies.
The AFG National AGM was held in conjunction with the local Ballarat Tree Growers AGM and several Victorian members travelled quite long distances to attend along with President Kevin Harding who flew down from far north Queensland to attend.
Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst, from Melbourne University, provided an excellent post-dinner address discussing the interaction of fire with the environment and the importance of fire management to manage landscapes for effective flora and fauna conservation.
At the first meeting of the new AFG Board on 31 October, Kevin, Ian and Tim were re-confirmed as President, Vice-President and Treasurer for the next term of the Board. Additionally, the new Board invited Jan Newport (SA) to join the Board as a supplementary Director to add additional skills and national coverage to the Board composition.
In his President’s report to the AGM, Kevin noted the following AFG highlights for 2014/15:
The successful recruitment of highly experienced Executive Officer, Sarah Paradice, and her management of the office shift from Dickson to a shared office with the Institute of Foresters of Australia at Bruce. Sarah has provided much needed National Office management and support to both the Board and members. The new office arrangements deliver important budget savings and open up prospects for increased collaborative interactions with IFA.
Treasurer Tim Gillespie-Jones will report a very healthy surplus for the 2014/15 financial year reflecting both fiscal prudency and a very successful 2014 Lismore conference. The Conference was a great success under the stewardship of Mark Wright (Convenor) with his Organising Committee and in particular, Diana Lloyd, who provided critical conference planning and delivery experience/mentorship.
The Bumper Annual Edition of the Australian Forest Grower magazine marks a milestone change for AFG. We welcome aboard Brad Wykes as the new Editor and trust that all members enjoy the first edition of the Annual which was distributed in early November. The Board continues to consider the reinstatement of a quarterly magazine in the context of the effectiveness of our overall communications strategy.
The AFG News Bulletin was mooted as a 2-4 page regular communication with members. We have received very positive feedback on the editions produced to date. The News Bulletin seems to have filled a valued communication niche with members with the first editions running to between 8 and 18 pages! It is pleasing to read the stories on field days and other contributions that have not been generally captured in our magazine that focussed on more formal papers and reports.
The Board has made a significant commitment to overhauling and modernising the AFG website. This will provide great efficiencies and cost savings for the annual membership renewal process and Conference and Branch event registrations. It will also capture our back catalogue of magazines, policies and government submissions making them readily accessible to members as they deserve to be. They represent an important and valued resource for this organisation and a huge bank of volunteer time that went in to crafting them. Additionally, it includes a marketplace area for members to market their own products and properties.
A highly experienced Conference Organising Committee has been formed in Tasmania and is diligently planning and developing another outstanding AFG Conference in Launceston on 2016. We look forward to your support and their warm welcome to Tasmania from 23-26 October 2016 (Conference) and 18-22 October (Pre-conference Tour).
We have transitioned to a single membership renewal date of 1 June for memberships covering the next financial year. This is much more efficient and manageable for our limited office resources and provides certainty to the Board for planning around membership level and drives.
We submitted a 28 page submission to the Forest Industries Advisory Council strategic directions issues paper on Meeting Future Market Demand for Australia’s Forest Products and Forest Industry. This submission was based on AFG’s enviable resource of policy statements. A policy forum will be built into the 2016 conference program to update those policy statements that are now dated since the last major policy forum in 2011/12.
We are building on existing ties and developing strengthened collaborative linkages with IFA, AFPA, FWPA, NZFFA, Forest-Works and AFS. These important linkages will ensure our Private Forestry voice is raised, and our issues and policies are considered, in forums across our Australian, state and local government jurisdictions as well as by our key industry peak bodies as they consider their policy positions and advocate strong industry positions.
Kevin thanked all the Board members for their dedication and service to AFG and for the support and encouragement of our experienced Directors as the newer faces have settled in to their roles on the Board. Thanks also to Pat Lavery for her assistance with book-keeping from July 2014 to March 2105. A special thanks to Sarah Paradice for her professional management of our national office affairs and communications. He also thanked and recognised AFG’s insurance partners JLT and Cover-force who are important financial supporters of AFG and deserve your consideration and support when insuring your plantation and forest investments. We also received wonderful sponsorship support for the 2014 Biennial conference in Lismore and the Tree Farmer of the Year Awards particularly from the Australian Government (Dept. of Agriculture), Southern Cross University, FWPA, Hurford Hardwoods, Forest-Works, our insurers and a range of other supporters which we gratefully acknowledge.
Finally, Kevin moved a vote of thanks to David Fisken and Greg Unwin as they retire from the AFG Board of Directors. AFS has been privileged to have had David’s sage leadership over five years as President (2009-2014) and nine years in total on the AFG Board during a time of great change and difficult budgetary waters to negotiate. Greg has been a stalwart champion of the Grower magazine during his four years on the Board and will continue to serve on the Tasmanian Branch Executive and the 2016 Conference Organising Committee.
We are building on existing ties and developing strengthened collaborative linkages with IFA, AFPA, FWPA, NZFFA, Forest-Works and AFS.