Understanding Forest Science Course

The Understanding Forest Science Course is usually held every second year to complement the popular Understanding Wood Science Course.

The use of wood as a material is increasingly diverse. It is a material that has unique natural qualities and is renewable – the forest carbon cycle has been studied and sustainable harvesting of timber from authorised forest areas and plantations is carbon positive. Along with strong demand for timber derived products in preference to less carbon emission friendly materials like concrete and steel – there is also a close link with growing demand for timber as the housing and construction industry works to fill Australia’s housing requirements.

The Australian and international forest industry has undergone quite rapid change in recent decades. There is extreme supply pressure in many regions because the area of natural forest and plantation grown timbers that are authorised for sustainable harvesting in many parts of Australia is shrinking – while population needs for housing keep growing and paper products (from wood fibre) are in preferred as a biodegradable natural material to replace plastics (straws, food packaging for example).

Australia is not self-sufficient for its own timber resource needs and thus continues to import more timber and timber products, from other countries just to meet domestic needs.  This is an issue of immense concern to this innovative and sustainable industry. With long lead times to grow a crop of trees very few investors have access to patient capital to fund new plantations until a return is made with the main harvest. Natural forest regions are unfortunately a subject of intense political activism in some regions. In light of so many factors, including optimal utilisation of all timber fibre (including lower value offcuts, sawdust and woodchip by-products from sawmilling) innovative ways of growing and utilising the world’s valuable timber resources are constantly evolving.

This Gottstein Understanding Forest Science Course of five days duration is planned to provide the basic science and policy framework that applies to contemporary forest management in Australia.


This week long forest science course provides an understanding of sustainable Australian forest management, the economics of growing timber for wood production and other forest services. The course covers both planted and natural forests and provides an appreciation of environmental issues and international strategic trends in the forestry industry.

Future courses

The next Understanding Forest Science Course is tentatively planned for Sunday 4 - Friday 9 June 2023.

Interested people for the next course are invited to send an email and ask to be on the notification list about the next course.

Course Program

The last Understanding Forest Science Course, held at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society in February 2019, was very successful. The 2019 course program can be viewed here

Who Should Attend

The course is aimed at potential managers, people who work in forest companies or organisations who are not foresters, executives, non-executive directors, industry and government policy people, service providers and consultants to the forest industry. The course is of particular relevance to those who may have recently joined the industry and may have little or no training in the science of forest management.

Why You Should Attend

A fuller understanding at a professional level of forest science and management and its application in Australia is essential if our industry is to achieve its full potential. This course provides you with the understanding to improve your personal and business performances and to view your operations within national and international contexts.

In order to facilitate exchange and discussion, the course is limited to a maximum of 35 participants. Early booking is always advisable to avoid disappointment.

Quality Speakers

The 2019 forest science course again featured guest speakers with very extensive experience in the industry – as practitioners and also as researchers. The Gottstein Trust values the generous donation of time which speakers give in order to help inform and educate people about the sector.

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