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CRC for Forestry > Newsletters > Communities > Issue three (May 2010)

Community catch-up 3 (May 2010)

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Issue three - May 2010 e-newsletter
Community catch-up - Understanting the social dimensions of Australias forest industry

Welcome to Community catch-up 3

This issue of Communities Project e-newsletter describes recent, current, and future research activities being undertaken by the research team. Designed for our busy audience, the e-newsletter provides a brief introduction into current research activities, with a link to more information available for those people whom are interested.

The CRC for Forestry Communities Project examines the social aspects of commercial forestry within Australia. Research projects being undertaken include quantifying the socio-economic costs and benefits of commercial forestry, determining and understanding current community attitudes towards commercial forestry, reviewing and improving current community engagement processes undertaken by the commercial forest industry, and examining the applicability of more collaborative forms of community engagement such as participatory modelling. [read more]

Communities Project Update

Kath Williams

Some communties students are finalising their research projects and others are starting their field work, making for an exciting time in the Communities Project. With Dr Jacki Schirmer currently on maternity leave, the Communities Project is under the leadership of Dr Kath Williams (University of Melbourne). Kath is a sub-project leader within the Communities Project and thus has a considerable understanding of the Communities research and the research team.

What has been happening?

Communities Project researchers retreat

Communities research group at WoodenbongIn February 2010 the Communities researchers travelled to Ballina, northern NSW for the Communities Project Research Retreat. The retreat was designed to provide an opportunity for the communities team to come together and share ideas and experiences. The retreat included a field trip to the Upper Clarence which provided much needed context and clarity regarding the social aspects of commercial forest management. [see more]

Communities Project publications and seminars

Research within the Communities Project has reached a consolidation phase. Initial projects that commenced in 2006 are wrapping up, with the majority of technical reports completed, and public and industry seminars conducted. As the more recent projects commence field work and produce findings it is expected that further technical reports will be produced and public seminars conducted.  [read more]

Communities Project representation at conferences

National conferences

  • Melbourne University School of Land & Environment 7th Annual Postgraduate Conference "Environment - It's Easy Being Green" 5th & 6th November 2009, Dookie, Victoria. 'The social acceptability of timber plantations: a case of contested rural ideals?', presented by Nerida Anderson.
  • University of Tasmania Cradle Coast Post Graduate Conference 2009, 6 August, Burnie Tasmania. 'Adding theory to the practice of community engagement: Are forest managers ready for it?' presented by Lain Dare.

International conferences

  • Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations International Symposium Change In Governance as Collective Learning Process: Management, Politics and Ethics in Forestry, 21-24 June 2009 Nancy, France. “Can forest certification effect positive social change within Australian plantation forestry?” presented by Lain Dare

  • 15th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Meet old and new worlds in research, planning and management, July 5-8 2009, Vienna, Austria.

    • 'Evaluating the effectiveness of participatory modelling for addressing natural resource management issues in Australian forested communities' presented by Andrea Leys
    • 'Adding theory to the practice of community engagement: are forest managers ready for it?' presented by Lain Dare

  • 1st International Conference on Environmental and Rural Development, Strategies for Sustainable Rural Development,  4 - 5 March 2010, Phnom Penh. 'Participatory Modelling to inform Rural Development: Case studies from Zimbabwe and Australia' presented by Jerry Vanclay.

Socio-economic costs and benefits of commercial forestry (Project 4.3.1)

Forest Industry Surveys

Forestry Jobs Spending 0506In mid 2009, two new reports were released on socioeconomic impacts of  plantations on rural communities in Western Australia and Tasmania were released. This was the culmination of three years of work in the Communities project on this topic. The studies explored questions commonly asked about the impacts plantation expansion has on rural communities. [read more]

Living with plantations

Plantation Community1A new research project being undertaken as part of CRC for Forestry Communities Project 4.3.1 is looking at the characteristics of communities within close proximity to plantations (residing within plantation properties and adjacent to plantation properties).  [read more]

Community attitudes towards plantation forestry  (Project 4.3.2)

Engaging with social research

Researching the researchers can be a daunting task at times, just ask Caroline (Caj) Dunn who has just submitted her PhD thesis - congratulations Caj! Looking at how the forest industry engages with the social research being undertaken by the Communities Project, Caj has been a vital addition to the Communties research team, providing a different perspective on the both the research outcomes and inter-relationships between the researchers and industry partners. [read more]

Loving the landscape

Rural landscape 1Kick starting her field work in the coming months PhD student Nerida Anderson hopes to discover what people love about rural landscapes and how this influences their perceptions of plantation forests within these landscapes. With field work being conducted in the idyllic landscapes of Tasmania's North West coast, and some exciting visually based methodology, this is a project to watch out for in the coming months. [read more]

Community engagement in Australian forestry (Project 4.3.3)

Making the most of community engagement opportunities

Effective community engagement (CE) requires considerable resources from all parties involved, especially time. In the fast-paced world that many of us live in, time is a precious resource and therefore it is important to use it wisely. There are a few simple ways to use the limited time available more efficiently [read more]

Communities, culture and cooperation

Community engagement is increasingly being incorporated into the corporate culture of forest plantation companies.Without community engagement, it would not be possible to be pro-active about addressing community needs and promoting two way communications to help achieve sustainable forest management. The new Communities Project 4.3.3 research project aims to enhance the adoption of community engagement in the corporate culture of plantation companies. [read more]

Participatory modelling of forested landscapes (Project 4.3.4)

Learnings from a participatory modelling exercise

Woodenbong HallA participatory study exploring sub-tropical plantation forestry expansion in north-eastern NSW by Andrea Leys is near completion and has presented some interesting findings, some of which have been contrary to previous community perception, highlighting the importance of our social-ecological research to help inform debate. [read more]

Employment and environmental benefits of bioenergy generation

Following on from Andrea Leys project Marie-Chantale Pelletier is developing a project to investigate the employment and environmental benefits of utilising low value wood for bioenergy. Looking to utilise a study of travel to work habits, Marie-Chantale hopes to identify impacts of various timber processing options, including central processing facilities and distribution networks. In addition the research aims to complete an energy balance life cycle analysis of bioenergy generation from low value timber. [read more]

Affiliated research

Social outcomes of the Regional Forest Agreement in Northern NSW

Native forest 1There is mixed opinion on the process and outcome of the Social Impact Assessment and the success of the Forestry Industry Structural Adjustment Package associated with the implementation of Regional Forest Agreements across Australia. Edwina Loxton is conducting a research project focussing on the individuals’ experience of the RFA, including their initial concerns, their decision making process and responses, the utility of support measures, and both short and long term impacts. [read more]

Social acceptance of fuel modification strategies 

Fire_remnant_thumbnailUnderstanding perceptions of fuel management can help land managers develop strategies and policies that address the needs and priorities of the community. It can help them recognise when existing or proposed policies might be supported or rejected by the public, and assist the development of information campaigns designed to gain public support for strategies. [read more]

Communities Project students

The Communities Project currently has 9 students working on social aspects of commercial forestry:

Subproject 4.3.1 Socio-economic costs and benefits of commercial forestry

Peter Lezaich (Masters student) Landscape modelling of social and economic change in rural communities experiencing plantation expansion. Peter is currently working on his masters part time.

Subproject 4.3.2 Community attitudes towards plantation forestry

Caroline (Caj) Dunn (PhD Student) Making sense of social research in forestry. Caj is final stages of her PhD, busy writing up an informative reflection on how forest managers use and learn from social research. [read more]

Nerida Anderson (PhD Student) Understanding the connection between the visual aesthetics of rural landscapes and the social acceptability of timber plantations. Having recently completed her confirmation at the University of Melbourne, Nerida is commencing her field work taking advantage of the lovely autumn in Tasmania. [read more]

Subproject 4.3.3 Community engagement in Australian forestry

Melanie (Lain) Dare (PhD student) Community engagement processes in Australian forestry. Lain is in the final stages of her PhD, writing papers and producing the 'Handbook for Operational Community Engagement within Australian Plantation Forest Management' which will be available in the coming months. [read more]

Melissa Gordon (PhD student) Adoption of community engagement in Australian plantation forest companies. Melissa is commencing her field work, working closely with selected forest management companies to determine the real influences on community engagement adoption. [read more]

Subproject 4.3.4 Participatory modelling of forested landscapes 

Andrea Leys (PhD student) The effectiveness of using participatory modelling techniques to address and resolve natural resource issues in rural communites with a developing plantation forestry industry. In the final stages of field work, Andrea is working hard to distribute a report to the community in which her research has been conducted, after which the final evaluative survey can be distributed. [read more]

Marie-Chantale Pelletier (PhD student) Community benefits of using plantation hardwood for biofuel production on the NSW North coast. Marie-Chantale is currently on maternity leave until later in the year.

Affiliated Students

Edwina Loxton (PhD student) The socio-economic impacts of closing native forestry. Edwina has completed a significant portion of her field work and is currently analysing the data. Preliminary results have identified several interesting outcomes that help us better understand the range of personal outcomes resulting from the closure of forest resources. 

Melinda Mylek (PhD student) Community perceptions about fuel modification strategies used to reduce bushfire risk to life and property. A part time PhD student, Melinda is juggling field work with her role as a consultant at GHD.

Whats coming up?

Community engagement handbook

The 'Handbook for Operational Community Engagement within Australian Plantation Forest Management' is undergoing final PSC review. With the final reviews underway, the much anticipated handbook should hit the website in the very near future.


Lain Dare

Newsletter Editor