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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

26 February 2001

New Farm Forestry course to help students see the forest from the trees

Maximising the economic benefits and minimising environmental costs will be the twin aims of a new National Graduate Program in Farm Forestry, launched at the Australian National University by the Federal Government today.

The program is a joint initiative of the ANU and Charles Sturt University. Farm Forestry is about incorporating commercial tree growing into normal farm activities to diversify agricultural production and improve natural resource management.

"The Federal Government is contributing $45,000 to the development and implementation of this new, innovative course. We hope that graduates of the Farm Forestry program will have a range of specialised skills that they can take back to their workplaces and communities, in particular the incorporation of conservation and biodiversity objectives into their work", Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage said.

"The forestry and forest products industries turn over $11b annually and employ almost 75,000 people across the country, mostly in rural and regional Australia. It is important that we have highly skilled and knowledgable workers adding value to our timber industry".

"Students in this new course will have a diverse range of study topics to choose from, covering the sustainable management of native forests, planning and design of farm forestry plantations and assessing the benefits to rural and regional Australia of the forest industry. Enrolment options include a Graduate Certificate, Diploma and Master's degree".

"Land managers will learn to develop systems that protect our biodiversity and achieve conservation objectives as well as contribute to commercial timber production. Improved planning and design of plantations, use of mixed native tree, shrub and ground cover and protection of remnant vegetation are some of the areas that the timber industry need to address".

"These skills will help in the protection of our unique ecosystems and species, which are critical to providing refuge and corridors for wildlife confronted with an increasingly fragmented agricultural landscape".

Sharman Stone said that the National Graduate Program in Farm Forestry was being funded through the Bushcare program of the Natural Heritage Trust. Bushcare's primary aim is to reverse the decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation.

"The Natural Heritage Trust is Australia's largest ever environmental rescue package, with over 10,000 individual projects undertaken across the country. I am pleased that this new course that will build the skills and knowledge of participants, is being funded by the Trust".

For further information please contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468 or (02) 6277 2016
February 26th, 2001

Commonwealth of Australia