Gottstein wood science course to run again

THE Gottstein Memorial Trust, the national education trust for the forest and wood product industries, has been assisting people in the sector with development opportunities for more than 40 years.
The 22nd Gottstein Wood Science Course will be held at the CSIRO Clayton, Vic, precinct from February 15 to 19 next year with the assistance of CSIRO and the University of Melbourne. The course is aimed at delegates from across Australia who may be working in the wood products industry but may have no formal learning of the industry.
The course covers both hardwood and softwood anatomy, processing and benefits of the timber industry overall.
“It is an excellent overview of the Australian industry and has been well received by past participants,” course director Dr Silvia Pongracic said.
The Gottstein Wood Science Course has run every two years since its inception in 1978 and continues to attract delegates from different areas of the industry with different levels of understanding and background of the industry.
Comments provided by the delegates at previous courses include, “It was fabulous to meet passionate individuals from the industry”, and, “I will have a greater respect for the material and all the different aspects of wood”.
When asked about the personal benefits of the course, responses included, “it was great to get exposure to others in the supply chain and their issues”, and, “greatly increased my knowledge of wood and the whole timber industry”.
Details and further information is available from Silvia Pongracic on 0418 764 954 or email

Gottstein mission identifies business case for high return on plantation investment

Gottstein missionAUSTRALIA’S forest industry should establish a business case for direct government investment in growing trees to establish critical mass in timber resources, based on benefits for the public good.
That’s one of the conclusions by Cameron MacDonald, chief operating officer at HVP Plantations, who has returned from a Gottstein fellowship study mission to industry operations in Europe.
Mr MacDonald said Ireland was investing $15,580,000 (about €100m) a year on establishing a private plantation resource based on a business case developed by a respected economist.
“The business case established that the returns to Irish economy would exceed the government’s initial investment,” Mr MacDonald said.
“The rationale that underpins this investment could be a model for securing government investment in Australia,” he said.
“Forest management services funded through compulsory levies or direct government support is critical to develop private growers’ knowledge in growing trees and faith in timber markets.”
Mr MacDonald said Finland had established a management service network for private growers through a compulsory levy system facilitated by a significant established resource base.
“Ireland has established a similar network by allocating a fixed proportion of government grants for the establishment of plantations to the contractor workforce charged with putting the trees in the ground,” he said.
“Resource and market information is critical to private growers; the Irish government has developed site productivity information to ensure planting programs funded by government target suitable sites.
“An NGO in Finland, supported by government contract work, has developed systems skills that are not only utilised locally but have been taken to the world through Finnish-sponsored foreign aid programs.
Mr MacDonald said private landowner support to provide the land base for plantation investment was critical for ensuring a sustainable estate was established.
Growers had a voice in the establishment and/or management of the private resource in both Ireland and Finland, primarily through peak agricultural bodies. This enabled the industry (private, industrial and processing) to present a united voice to government that facilitated establishing a positive policy environment for the industry rather than one where government could sit on the fence and point to industry dissent.
“A closer working relationship with the National Farmers Federation in Australia is a logical starting point for the forest industry in Australia,” Mr MacDonald said.
Even though Mr MacDonald says he was aware of the market distortions created by the European Union, and more specifically the Common Agriculture Policy, he “naively latched on to the fact” that Ireland had established 200,000 ha of private plantations as a possible solution to Australia’s inability to fund investment in long rotation plantations.
“While I quickly learnt that politically Europe is a totally different proposition relative to Australia, there are still concepts and approaches that we can learn from here,” he said.
Mr MacDonald encouraged readers of his report to take an open mind to the contents, and before they denounced some of the ideas as “never working here”, they should consider the thought process that has been followed, and more importantly how the needs of a key stakeholder (i.e. the landowner) have been placed front and centre in both expanding the resource base but also building a powerful coalition for the industry more broadly.
In background comments to the report, Mr MacDonald said both Ireland and England entered the 20th century with very little forest cover; <1% and 5% respectively, essentially caused by deforestation to facilitate agricultural expansion.
The lack of timber resources meant that England nearly ran out of domestic timber supplies during World War 1, resulting in programs to re-establish plantations on government land.
Today, the UK Forestry Commission has more than 250,000 ha of commercial plantation in consolidated blocks, 75% of which is conifer species – Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the uplands and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in the lowlands.
There have been various grant schemes to encourage planting on private land over the last 90 years, particularly in the UK where more than 1.3 million ha of woodland has been established in parcels averaging 13 ha, of which 75% are broad-leaved species.
Central to the provision of these grants has been funding from the European Union of up to 70% of the cost of the various schemes, linked to two complementary policy objectives:
• To reduce the over-production of food in the EU by diverting up to 15% of marginal farmland into alternative land use, primarily to grow trees.
• Increasing forest cover in countries that had experienced significant deforestation, such as Ireland and the UK.
With the EU funding has come certain requirements, particularly in terms of environmental constraints. The key requirement is a cap on the area planted under exotic species in a given compartment, which is currently set at 65%.
“The government has been clever in how the payments have been structured (as distinct from a simple tax deduction of 48.5c in the dollar to wealthy investors in MIS schemes in Australia),” Mr MacDonald said.
The measures to protect the government investment and to ensure ongoing investment in plantation forestry include:
• About 40% of the grant is allocated to pay consultants to submit the grant application and to forest management contractors to do the work. This is to avoid landowners seeking to take short-cuts, but also a key element of the business case for government funding is to develop employment opportunities in depressed regional communities.
• Not all the premium is paid up front. A proportion is held in reserve until age four until the performance of the stand is assessed by a registered forestry consultant or the Forestry Service to ensure the stand has met a minimum performance standard.
• The site must pass a strict assessment of the productivity and growth potential to ensure the benefit of the investment is maximised in terms of saleable product.
Perhaps most importantly, Mr MacDonald said, the land was permanently classified for timber production and a condition of the felling licence was that the landowner had to re-establish the next stand at their own expense.
He said grants, premiums and profits from sale of produce were tax free in Ireland and the UK.
“The Irish government is considering putting a cap on the tax-free amount of €125k per annum (about $A39,200) which would be breached if a farmer were to clearfall more than 6 ha in any one yea,” Mr MacDonald said.
“In addition to the up-front payments, farmers can apply for additional payments for activities conducted over the lifetime of the plantation.”
Note: HVP Plantations owns 160,000 ha of softwood and hardwood plantations in Victoria, selling around 3 million tonnes of log products a year to sawmills and paper mills.
Cameron MacDonald graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1989 with a Bachelor of Forest Science (Hons) and has subsequently gained a post-graduate degree in accounting and a MBA from the Melbourne Business School. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry in both the plantation and native forest sector covering both operational and finance roles.

IFA-Gottstein link considered at Melbourne trustees meeting

IFA-GottsteinMutual benefits are evident in a connection between the Institute of Foresters of Australia and the J.W. Gottstein Memorial Trust, says IFA CEO Bob Gordon.
He was addressing a meeting of Gottstein trustees held at the FWPA offices in Melbourne.
Established in 1935, IFA is a professional body with more than 1100 members engaged in all branches of forest management and conservation,
Membership represents all segments of the forestry profession, including public and private practitioners engaged in many aspects of forestry, nature conservation, resource and land management, research, administration and education.
Mr Gordon said IFA looked to sharing common interests with the Gottstein Trust. Many IFA members were themselves former Gottstein fellows.
Gottstein fellowships are open to industry and are awarded to people from or associated with Australian forest and wood product industries to further their experience, education or training either within or outside Australia by undertaking a project.
Appropriate project topics are listed on the Gottstein website
Gottstein Trust chairman Brian Farmer said candidates would be selected on the value of the project.
“Applications focusing on small group study tours will be favourably viewed, although any relevant project topic may be proposed.”
Applications for each category will be considered by the trustees and promising applicants will be selected for interviews in October this year. New closing date for applications is September March 25, 2015.
Founded in 1971 to recognise the services of the late CSIRO scientist Bill Gottstein, the trust has awarded more than 200 fellowships, industry awards and scholarships.
“The trust creates opportunities for selected persons to acquire knowledge through Gottstein fellowships aimed at promoting the welfare of Australia’s forest industries across all sectors,” Mr Farmer said.The trust also runs forestry and wood science courses, alternatively, each year.
The next week-long Gottstein wood science course will be held at Creswick, Vic, in February next year, covering all aspects of wood processing.
The Gottstein trustees are considering a Gottstein appreciation dinner in Melbourne next year to follow the wood science course and details will appear soon on the Gottstein web site.
Information about Gottstein Trust fellowship and application details are available from the national secretary, PO Box 330, Hamilton Central, Qld, 4007. Tel: (07) 3262 3001. Mob: 0401 312 087. Email:
Information and registration details for the Gottstein Wood Science course should be directed to Dr Silvia Pongracic at Private Bag 10, Clayton South, Vic 3169. Tel: 0418 764 954. Email:

2015 Gottstein Forest Science Course now open for registrations

The 2015 Gottstein Forest Science Course will run from 16-20th February 2015 at Creswick, Victoria and is now open for registrations.  Use the on line registration at the Gottstein Trust website or download the course program.

In collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the Institute of Foresters of Australia, the week long course will provide an overview of issues facing the Australian forest industry and provide an insight into the management of natural and planted forests in Australia.

The Gottstein Forest Science Course is aimed at those who do not have formal training in Forestry but who may be working in the forest industries in Australia. It touches on, but does not dwell upon, the emotional regard in which forests are held, and the course focus is instead on the science of forest management.

For further information contact Dr Silvia Pongracic, Course Director at

Strategic partnership to assist new engineers

The Gottstein Trust has partnered with Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) to support up to 6 young engineers to attend the World Congress on Timber Engineering in Canada in August 2014.

This exciting initiative will enable engineers with less than 5 years experience and who are working for companies that are both members of the FWPA and Patrons of the Gottstein Trust attend the Congress and be up to date with the latest thinking on timber engineering world wide.

This activity will complement another FWPA program that supports Australian engineering students to attend the World Congress on Timber Engineering and is also consistent with the results of the recent industry survey undertaken by the Gottstein Trust to encourage more focussed study tours and market development activities.

Recently graduated engineers who fulfil the criteria of being employed by a company that is a Patron of the Gottstein Trust and a member of FWPA are encouraged to contact the Gottstein Trust for further information – contact the Gottstein Trust

Website launch

The Gottstein Trust is pleased to announce the launch of its new look website and the refined focus of the Trust’s activities.  Brian Farmer, Chairman of the Gottstein Trust, says “The Gottstein Trust has served the forest and wood products industry well for the last 40 years, and now it is time to refine some of the activities.  Being the national education trust for the forest and wood products industries the Trust deserves a modern and functional website to better inform viewers of what the Trust does, and what it has achieved since its inception.

Over the past 6 months the Secretary to the Trust, Silvia Pongracic, has liaised with the website developer to enable on-line applications for awards and for the wood and forestry science courses run by the Gottstein Trust.

With the industry survey undertaken in December 2013, the Gottstein Trust was encouraged by the level of recognition in the industry and also the level of support provided by industry participants.  “The Gottstein Trust cannot continue it’s activities without the annual donations provided by many companies,” explained Brian Farmer, “and we had to make sure that we were still relevant to the industry of 2014.  We received many good suggestions from the industry survey and seek to do a follow-up in two years time to see whether we have changed in a way that better suits our industry.”