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Key role for Australia in international tropical forestry

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G f f l O M O g i T t l ®


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No. Date:

MT45 4 July 1991


The Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, Neal Blewett, announced today that Australia would play a key role in establishing a new international research institute for forestry in the tropics.

The creation of the new International Service for Research on Forestry in the Tropics and Subtropics (ISREF) was agreed at a recent meeting in Washington, DC, of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The Canberra-based Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), will act as implementing agency.

"The decision that Australia, through ACIAR, will provide the implementing agency is a vote of confidence by the international research community in Australian expertise in forestry, and in ACIAR's capability to draw on this expertise and to link with forestry institutions worldwide," Dr Blewett said.

"ACIAR will facilitate the institute's creation by establishing a temporary organisation to receive funds on behalf of ISREF, recommending on a suitable location and negotiating with potential host countries, and searching for a Director General

and members of a board of trustees.

"The new institute will be located in Asia, but will also have strong programs in Africa and Latin America. Current rates of deforestation and land depletion signal the urgent need for better land use.

"In searching for acceptable, sustainable solutions the new institute's research will concentrate on ecology and conservation, as well as on the management of forests throughout the developing world," he said.

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Dr Blewett said that ISREF and ACIAR would closely complement one another. Already, 40 percent of the world's tropical plantations consisted of eucalypts, casuarinas and acacias (wattles) from Australia, but only a limited number of the 1500

available species were planted.

"ACIAR's forestry program is giving high priority to enabling Australian and developing country scientists to assess Australian native trees and shrubs for a range of uses from providing firewood and industrial poles to incorporation in

agro-forestry and rehabilitating land.

"Management of fast-growing Acacia manaium and similar species in rehabilitating formerly forested grasslands in South East Asia, and use of trees in reclaiming saline, formerly irrigated land in Asia are two examples of where close collaboration

between Australian scientists and ISREF can be expected," Dr Blewett said.

Dr George Rothschild, ACIAR*s Director, was a member of the international working group which assessed the need for an international forestry institute to help developing countries.

For further information contact : Janet Lawrence, ACIAR Information Officer, tel. (06) 2488588.