Reports that CSIRO is axing last 33 forest scientists are 'unbelievable' to 80,000 people who work in forest industry, says Australian Forest Products Assn. CEO; warns competitor nations are backing forestry R&D while Australia appears to be 'backing out'

DEAKIN WEST, Australia , July 15, 2014 (press release) – Last night on ABC Lateline*, DLP Senator John Madigan revealed secret CSIRO communications indicating that CSIRO management has reportedly axed the last remaining 33 forest scientists.

The CSIRO has been conducting research in this area since 1930 increasing our knowledge in water management, productivity (rates of tree growth), pest management, biodiversity, new uses for fibre, silviculture, climate science and many other areas.

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Mr Ross Hampton said, ‘Scarcely 4 months ago the Prime Minister called for a renaissance in forestry at an industry dinner for 600 people in the Great Hall of Parliament House. The Prime Minister said, “We want the timber industry to be a vital part of Australia’s economic future, not just something that was a relic of our history. That is what this Government wants.”

Mr Hampton said, ‘It is unbelievable to the 80 000 people who work in this industry that today the Government is standing by in silence as CSIRO management reportedly takes the axe to forestry research, ending 85 years of world leading, productivity-driving breakthroughs.

‘Our competitor nations understand that in a carbon constrained global economy, with a global population forecast to grow to 9.5 billion in a few decades, we need to develop new uses for our renewable, recyclable and carbon neutral timber.

‘While our competitor nations are backing forestry R&D, Australia is seemingly backing out. It makes no sense,’ said Mr Hampton.

Senator Madigan told Lateline of the amazing research being done in New Zealand into alternative uses of timber such as biofuels and bioplastics. He said, ‘These people (CSIRO forestry scientists) are the world leaders in their field. Now what I fear is going to happen is that these people are going to places like Chile, Vietnam, China, possibly Canada and New Zealand.’

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AFPA represents forest growers, harvesters, and manufacturers of timber and paper products.

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