FORESTERRA Partners Visit Australia
Australian Forest researchers and funding agencies have been invited to
join the FORESTERRA ERA-NET following the FORESTERRA delegation visit to
Australia in February.
Australia was the first Mediterranean Climate Area (MCA) to be visited as part of the Scientific Cooperation with other Mediterranean Climate Areas (MCAs), an important focus area for the Foresterra project. The aims of this visit, which took place from 17-25 February, included the identification of common challenges and research priorities, opportunities for strategic actions as well as the identification of funding opportunities for trans-continental research projects and improved mapping of forest research capacities and funding programmes in Australia.
A number of major issues facing MCAs were reviewed from different perspectives during the visit. Forests and water in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation was one of the important topics that recurred in discussions; of particular interest was understanding how Australia is dealing with an increase in the scarcity of water resources.
Australian universities and research organisations, including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra and Perth, the Australian National University and the Melbourne and Murdoch Universities hosted in-depth discussions on current and future research capacities and priorities.
These discussions provided insight into how researchers, stakeholders and governments are developing knowledge about the role of forests and plantations in surface water generation and ground water consumption. Other important themes during the trip were forest fire prevention and management, including the socio-economic and environmental impacts of prescribed burning, and genetic improvement and biodiversity conservation efforts.
The group also visited public and private sector companies, such as Forest SA and Australian Blue Gum Plantations, that manage plantations. Members of the delegation presented the vision and capacity of FORESTERRA to managers of the Australian Forest Product Association, a platform of forest industries based in Canberra and to the Forest products commission in Western Australia, a governmental department charged with the promotion of wood-based industries.
These organisations advocate increased research and innovation efforts to secure and improve plantation-based forest resources and to improve competitiveness and added value as the way forward in adapting to globalisation and structural changes in wood markets.
Time was also devoted to analysing the interest of research funding agencies and government representatives in facilitating and financing the participation of Australian researchers in trans-continental joint research calls.
The outcome of the trip was very positive: Australian researchers have a real interest in joining the Foresterra consortium to facilitate future cooperation and to expand the FORESTERRA footprint.
Following the visit a report will be produced to serve as a reference to support the European scientific community, to strengthen the scientific coordination and integration of Mediterranean forest research programmes, as well as scientific cooperation with Mediterranean area countries (including EU and non-EU member states), and with countries from other MCAs.
The delegation included representatives from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) Portugal, the Agricultural Research Council (CRA) Italy, the European Forest Institute (EFI)and from the Ministry of Economy and Competiveness –(MINECO) Spain.
The FORESTERRA International Project "Enhancing FOrest RESearch in the MediTERRAnean through improved coordination and integration", is part of the ERA-NET initiative.
Photos: Inazio Martinez de Arano
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