Forestry has a strong future, Senator tells conference
“T he ultimate challenge for your sector is being a large and crucial part of Australia’s renewable energy future”
In Australia – where energy reliability, security and affordability are being affected by increasing reliance on intermittent renewable sources of energy and ageing coal-fired generators – wood fibre and biomass is a potential, transformative solution to a very modern challenge.
That was the view expressed by Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston in her keynote address to the Insights and Outlook Conference in Melbourne recently.
“The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, but you can always depend on trees!
“They can be the source of the baseload energy we sorely need,” the Senator told delegates.
“And while they’re all growing they can soak up billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, turning it into wood and cellulose and oxygen with the aid of nothing more than some water and sunlight.
“For me, this is the ultimate challenge for your sector -- being a large and crucial part of Australia’s renewable energy future,” she said.
Every part of the Senator’s address struck a chord with the 100-strong crowd.
In her view trees are awesome; they grow things we can eat; they provide shelter and shade; they’re a window on the past.
“As I have said before, trees are the ultimate renewable, recyclable source of energy and building materials.
“Of course that’s not new. That’s ancient.
“People have been using wood as a source of energy and building materials ever since there have been people.
“We still do,” the Senator said.
“As a supporter and advocate for regional Australia, I love how the forestry and wood products sector supports the economic viability and sustainability of so many regional communities.
“I love how it supports more than 64,000 Australian jobs, many of them in regional areas.
“I love how it contributes more than $23 billion to our economy, including more than $8 billion in trade.
“I love the agility of this sector: how it has adapted over the years to new operating environments; and how it has countered threats and addressed challenges.
“I love this sector’s enthusiasm and capacity for innovation, and for adopting and applying new technologies.
“And most of all, I love this sector’s potential for growth and its potential to transform into something not only different – but much greater.
“I also love how forestry sector leaders are embracing and following through on this vision of the future,” she told delegates.
She said she thought a great example of the industry’s innovation and its broader benefits was the XLam crosslaminated timber factory at Wodonga... which becoming increasingly popular in Australia, being used in some high-profile construction projects around Australia.
Her final message to the conference was ...”You have a fine blueprint to work with. It sets your goals and your aspirations, but remember that this is the beginning of shaping the future, rather than the end.
“The Australian Government thinks that future is very bright, and we look forward to helping you achieve it.”
Trees are the ultimate renewable, recyclable source of energy and building materials.
Senator Ruston during her address to the Insights and Outlook Conference in Melbourne.