UniSA wins funding for Mt Gambier forest industry projects

Scoping an automated system to detect and suppress forest fires is one of four UniSA projects totalling $3.4 million announced this week to help address forest industry research priorities in South Australia. 

The State and Federal Governments and forest industry have committed $1.7 million towards projects to be undertaken at UniSA’s Mt Gambier and Mawson Lakes campuses through funding provided by the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI). The remainder of the money will come from forest industry contributions. 

The projects and the level of NIFPI funding include: 

  • $1 million to characterise softwood sawn timber in Australia;
  • $530,000 to develop a forest health and biosecurity system based on pest and disease risks;
  • $100,000 to scope an automatic forest fire detection and suppression system;
  • $55,000 to operate efficiently and sustainably within forest water licence rules.

Mt Gambier-based UniSA General Manager of Forest Research, Dr Jim O’Hehir, says the projects will address practical needs in the forestry sector, with significant industry backing. 

“Local plantation and timber processing companies are helping to fund these projects so new jobs will be created in Mt Gambier, building local research capacity and giving a substantial boost to the local economy,” Dr O’Hehir says. 

South Australia’s Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone, said the projects provided exciting opportunities for the future of the South Australian forestry industry. 

“Forestry is an important industry in South Australia and Mt Gambier is leading the way in research and development on Australia’s plantation forests,” Minister Whetstone said. 

“Importantly, much of this research done in Mt Gambier will have national application and can be adapted to other forestry regions across the country.” 

Caption: UniSA staff inspecting OneFortyOne Plantations radiata pine harvesting operations near Nangwarry in South Australia’s south-east.

Notes for editors

 Mt Gambier is one of two forest research centres established to rebuild Australian forest research capacity. The other location is Launceston, Tasmania. NIFPI is a joint Federal Government, South Australian Government and industry initiative.

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Media contact: Dr Jim O'Hehir: office (08) 8302 8997 mobile 0417 806 065 email jim.o'hehir@unisa.edu.au; Candy Gibson UniSA media: office (08) 8302 0961  mobile 0434 605 142 email candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au


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