A $6 million forestry research and development hub will open at UniSA’s Mount Gambier campus by the end of the year to support the South East’s $1.2 billion forest industry.
The new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub is a partnership between UniSA and the state and federal governments. The state and federal governments have each committed $2 million to the hub over four years, with industry bodies expected to contribute another $2 million.
The hub will play a vital role in fostering collaboration, supporting research, boosting innovation, maintaining jobs and making Mount Gambier one of the major centres for forest-industry research in the country.
The hub’s activities will enhance the strength of a region known as the Green Triangle, which is already one of Australia’s most important regions for growing and processing timber. The Green Triangle spans the border area between South Australia and Victoria, covering about six million hectares.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the partnership follows significant investment by the University in capacity and infrastructure at Mount Gambier.
“UniSA researchers will be working to find innovative improvements and solutions related to water sustainability and quality, measuring and managing productivity, improving waste management and energy use, growing forestry through product innovations and marketing and ensuring a sustainable future for the industry in the Mt Gambier region,” Prof Lloyd says.
“As Australia’s University of Enterprise this is exactly the kind of partnership where our researchers can add value to industry and support economic growth in the State and significantly, in regional South Australia.”
An industry-driven regional advisory committee will be established to determine priority research projects for the forest and wood products industry – which currently supports about 4000 jobs in the South East.
Minister for Forests Leon Bignell says the facility will be a major asset for the South East, providing opportunities for local industry to influence research priorities.
“Cutting edge research is vital to any industry and forestry offers so much potential,” Bignell says. “It’s exciting South Australia will soon be home to one of Australia’s leading forest and wood products research institutes in the country.
“The allocation of this funding to the new institute is a fantastic way to ensure we carve out a solid future for the sector – in collaboration with UniSA, local industry and the Federal Government.”
The hub is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.