Understanding Forest Science Course

The Understanding Forest Science Course is usually held every second year, in a rotating sequence with the Understanding Wood Science Course. There is a course in July 2024 after which the next on this topic will be in 2026.

The 2024 course will be held in winter at Mooloolaba in the heart of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, and close to the large southern Qld softwood plantation estates and some interesting native and hardwood plantation forests. The dates are: evening of Sunday 28th July to late morning of Friday 2nd August 2024.

Scene Setting

Forests generate some of earth's most vital ecological systems. Plus, wood - one of humankind's most essential fibre materials - is produced by trees in forests of all different shapes, sizes and characteristics. 

The ecological and the social roles of forests are deeply valued by humanity, and forest science is rather complex, with multiple systems and multiple values to be understood. Gaining some understanding of central elements of forest science is a great asset for people who are directly involved with forests or wood or the environment, and for people who are stakeholders in some other way. 

This unique course program has run for many years with hundreds and hundreds of people doing it. The topics and content adapt as science moves along and new scientific knowledge is available. This course brings highly respected experts into the room who generously make their expertise available in a friendly learning environment. 

Course program

The 2024 program is available here.

We guarantee it will be very interesting.  Gottstein courses feature exceptional speakers and you will experience experts delivering presentations plus two field trips.
You'll be networking with people from across Australia (sometimes also overseas) and there is opportunity to make lasting new connections.
The very successful 2023 program held at Coffs Harbour in NSW can still be viewed here.  

About the Course

The course commences late afternoon on a Sunday and then runs everyday until lunchtime Friday. It offers grounding in:

  • the basic science relating to forests
  • insights to current Australian research and development
  • forest management practices for a range of forest types
  • forest hydrology and soils 
  • biodiversity and ecology associated with forests
  • the evolving integration of indigenous land management practices in Australia's forests
  • third party certification of sustainable forest management
  • the crucial role of biosecurity
  • latest research findings on carbon sequestration levels in Australian forests, and carbon stored in timber products
  • the sophisticated technology in use for forest monitoring
  • other contemporary issues.

Plantations (planted forests) and natural forests are both needed as a source of Australia's home-grown timber supply. Timber is needed to construct homes, schools, offices - all types of buildings and it is a material needed to make other items that humanity needs. Timber fibre is being used in new ways like substituting for plastic in food and drink containers. There are also very high-tech uses of wood fibre.

Complex as forest science undoubtedly is, so is the way in which our society wrestles with prioritising the type of activities permitted within our forests and plantations.

There are many stakeholders involved in forests. Forest policy settings are influential and community views being expressed are influential. The choices made by private landowners and managers and the choices made by capital providers are also influential. The way our national forest assets ought to be managed and looked after is a contested space in Australia. It is a complex and fascinating arena.

Demand for timber is rising in Australia (as it has across the world) because we have a growing population and need for housing and timber is well recognised as a vital low-carbon material. Unfortunately less of the harvested timber needed is grown in Australia's forests and plantations. A mix of government and private sector decisions have resulted in a decline of the area available for harvest.

This makes Australia vulnerable because of increasing reliance on imports. The companies that operate in the international marketplace purchasing timber to import to Australia wrestle with tough competition from every other country that needs to buy in timber. With global population growth and changing uses for timber, 2050 global timber demand is predicted to be 37% higher than in 2020 (source Global forest sector outlook 2050 - Assessing future demand and sources of timber for a sustainable economy, FAO 2022). Australia is a minnow compared to the global competition.

We have global challenges on our hands and you will come away from the course with a deeper understanding about this.

Make a booking

Course registrations can only be made via the online form.

Please note that registration is not complete until an invoice is sent and the course fee has been paid in full. 

Expression of interest 

If you are interested in attending the course - but aren't able to go ahead and register your place right now - please let us know. Fill in a contact form and we can add you to the expression of interest group. This does not guarantee you a place and course registrations can only be made via the online form.

Who should attend

The course attracts a 'broad church'. It is open to everyone however most people come from within the forest and forestry products sector.  Prior participants included current and potential managers, policy staff, people doing non-forest roles, personnel from forest or forest product related organisations, executives, board directors, researchers, communications professionals, university students, capital and other service providers (such as banks, investment houses, insurers), peak industry associations, government and consultants to the forest industry. 

The course generally attracts a very interesting mix of people.

Why attend?

If you work in, are interested in, or are associated with the timber and forestry products sector in some way, this unique course will bring you up to date on core aspects of forest science and aspects of management of the nation's public and private estates. You will also gain a better understanding of the national and international forces impacting upon forests.

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 course always features prominent guest speakers with very extensive experience in forest science and other relevant specialities. Speakers include professional forest science practitioners, academics and researchers. 

The Gottstein Trust values the generous donation of time made by each speaker, in order to enable other people to learn.

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