Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC)

​​​​​​​​​The Australian Government established the Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) in October 2014 to provide advice from a cross-section of industry participants on issues affecting Australia’s forestry sector.

Consistent with its terms of reference, FIAC provides advice to the Australian Government on:

  • issues facing Australia’s forest and wood products sectors
  • initiatives to foster investment, growth and sustainability of Australia’s forest and wood products sectors
  • infrastructure priorities for continued growth
  • strategic priorities to support industry best practice
  • priorities for relevant research and development and innovation bodies, and
  • other forestry issues as raised by the membership or requested by the minister.

FIAC is chaired by Mr Rob de Fégely, a well-respected forest industry member. The chair is supported by ten members with expertise from across the forest and wood products sectors.

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FIAC paper

In June 2016, FIAC released its paper, Transforming Australia’s forest products industry – Recommendations from the Forest Industry Advisory Council. The paper outlines a vision and strategies for addressing the opportunities and challenges for the forest industry to 2050 and beyond. It makes recommendations to industry and the Australian Government on how best to position Australia’s forest products sector for the future.

The Australian Government used this report as the basis for developing the national forest industries plan—Growing a Better Australia – A Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth—which was released in September 2018.

Media release

FIAC members

The collective experience of FIAC members covers: native forests and plantations; forestry on public and private land; farm forestry; community and Indigenous forestry; sawmilling; pulp and paper manufacturing; timber imports; research and development; policy; and training and education.

Chair

Mr Rob de Fégely is a director of Margules Groome Consulting Pty Ltd, a forest and forest industry consulting company based in Australia and New Zealand. He is chair of the board of Sustainable Timber Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania) and a non‑executive director and national vice president of the Institute of Foresters of Australia. He is a former chair and director of Cape York Timber in far north Queensland and was a non‑executive director of VicForests. He has also held advisory roles with Greening Australia and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. He has worked in the Australian forest industry for 38 years and travelled extensively in the Asia‑Pacific region. He is a Registered Professional Forester with a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) degree from the Australian National University and a Master of Science (Forest Business Management) from Aberdeen University in the United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In his spare time, he and his wife Sarah run a small farm and forestry enterprise on the far south coast of New South Wales.

Members

Mr Ron Adams AM had been employed continuously in the Australian forest and wood products industry for 49 years up to his retirement in August 2017. For 13 years he was managing director of WESPINE Industries, a Western Australian based softwood sawmilling company which is a joint venture between Wesfarmers and Fletcher Building. Before being appointed managing director in 2004, Mr Adams had been a director of WESPINE since its formation in 1992. He was managing director of SOTICO (formerly Bunnings Forest Products) for 10 years, having been with Bunnings for 35 years and his father before him for 30 years. Mr Adams graduated with an Associateship in Mechanical Engineering in 1972, is a 1988 graduate of the Australian Graduate School of Management’s Development Program for Managers and a 1996 graduate of the Harvard Business School’s International Senior Management Program. Mr Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has held numerous industry association directorships (both in Western Australia and nationally), was a trustee of the Joseph William Gottstein Memorial Trust and is a former chairman of Forest and Wood Products Australia.

Mr Richie Ah Mat is co‑chair of the Cape York Partnership and Cape York Timber, and chairperson of the Cape York Land Council, a position he was first elected to in 1997. After serving his fourth term he moved into the position of executive director of Cape York Land Council in 2001 and held this position until 2005. He returned as chairperson in late 2009. Mr Ah Mat is a board member on a number of organisations promoting economic development and land and sea rights for Indigenous people, including Cape York Timber, the Cape York Partnership, the Cape York Group, Cape York Corporation and Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation. Cape York Timber produces high quality sustainable Australian hardwood while providing Indigenous employment and training. Mr Ah Mat is a past member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and was the first Aboriginal man to hold the position of President of a Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union lodge.

Dr David Brand has over 35 years’ experience in business management, investment management, science, public policy, public administration, and international affairs, working with a wide range of public and private sector organisations in the forestry sectors of Canada and Australia. He is founder and CEO of international investment management business New Forests. He is currently chair of sawmilling business Timberlink Australia and New Zealand, a director of Forest Trends and a trustee of the Regional Centre for Community Forestry. He has published widely on the international forestry sector and speaks at a range of conferences on forests, climate change and responsible investment.

Ms Christine Briggs has over 30 years’ experience in the forest and wood products industry, focussed largely on the Australian and New Zealand sectors. She has held senior sales and marketing roles with major Australian timber manufacturing businesses such as CSR, Weyerhaeuser, Gunns, Timberlink and is currently at AKD Softwoods. Her international experience includes time in the US, working with Weyerhaueser Building Materials during 2003. Ms Briggs’ general management experience has covered strategic planning and business development, stakeholder engagement, sales and marketing excellence and supply chain development. In her current role, National Marketing Manager with AKD Softwoods, she is responsible for the market positioning of AKD and the development and adoption of the strategic market direction for the business. Ms Briggs’ qualifications include a Bachelor of Business with a Marketing Major from University of Technology, Sydney and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Russ Hughes is Chief Executive Officer of Australian Bluegum Plantations (ABP), a company with operations in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. He joined ABP in 2015, after spending over 20 years in the Canadian forestry sector working with Bowater, an integrated pulp and paper company, as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers as a management consultant. Prior to moving to Australia, he spent 3 years facilitating and subsequently managing Obishikokaang Resources, responsible for managing a million hectare forest license, the first to be held by a First Nation in Canada. Mr Hughes is a Registered Professional Forester (Ontario) with a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Business Administration from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Mr Andrew Hurford is the chair of Hurford Hardwood Australia Pty Ltd, chair of Timber NSW, a member of the NSW Government’s Forest Industry Taskforce and has previously been a director of Natbuild (The National Building Suppliers Group). The Hurford Group of companies is a vertically integrated business involved in the growing, processing, marketing and distribution of northern NSW hardwoods throughout Australia and internationally via its network of sawmills, dry mills and distribution warehouses. The Hurford Group is a major regional employer with some 150 staff based in northern NSW and a total workforce of more than 300 people.

Ms Annabel Kater is co-founder of Australian Sustainable Timbers, a forest management and timber milling and marketing company based in Dungog in the NSW Hunter Valley. The company produces high-quality timber products sourced from sustainably managed, privately‑owned native regrowth forests in the Hunter Valley and mid north coast of NSW, and provides training and consulting services in sustainable forest management. Ms Kater’s interest in sustainable forest management grew out of her work with Landcare and Greening Australia, providing education and training in farm forestry, native forest management and rural revegetation. After completing a Master of Forestry degree at the Australian National University, focusing on native forest silviculture and eucalypt ecology, she has worked as a forestry consultant, providing advice and training in native forest management to landholders. She has had a long involvement with farm forestry on her family’s cattle property, in the lower Hunter Valley, where regrowth forests are being managed to produce high-quality sawlogs. She has delivered several Master Tree Grower (MTG) courses in the region and is writing a state‑wide MTG course focused on Native Forest Management. She was a founding member of the Hunter Farm Forestry Network and remains an active committee member.

Ms Diana Lloyd has a background in education and training, and as a practising forester in regional Victoria and South Australia. She has been a director of ForestrySA and Australian Forest Growers. Her experience in the education sector includes roles at ForestWorks, Southern Cross University and TAFE South Australia, in Mount Gambier. As well as being a qualified forester, Ms Lloyd has a master’s degree in professional communications and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Alison Stone is an executive leader who has shaped strategic policy and delivered business reforms and cultural change to deliver outcomes for the community and regional Australia. She is inclusive and collaborative in working with government, industry, stakeholders and across jurisdictions. She focuses on governance, performance, economic evaluation, and ensures appropriate levels of risk management. She is committed to providing opportunities to shape outcomes by engaging and consulting broadly. She has worked for over 35 years in the natural resource management, planning and development sectors, across public land, coasts, forestry, fire and water. She has developed a strong understanding and recognition of native title and Aboriginal land rights and the opportunities available to improve beneficial outcomes through timely land settlement processes.

Ms Katherine Teh is managing director of Futureye, a consultancy specialising in social licence to operate. She has worked on forestry and deforestation issues since 1993 in Tasmania, Victoria, South America, Indonesia, Malaysia and Europe. Ms Teh is an A‑graded journalist and holds a Bachelor of Arts (political science and public policy). She is co‑founder of the model for UN Global Compact Cities program and also a global ambassador.

Ms Penny Wells has over thirty years’ experience in the forestry sector in Tasmania, having been involved in forest planning, policy and management with both the Tasmanian Government and forest industry since the late 1980s. During this time she has been joint owner of a small family sawmill (processing special species timbers), has worked with land management and development agencies within the Tasmanian Government, and worked with Forestry Tasmania as a forest planner. Ms Wells was part of the team that negotiated the original Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) for Tasmania in 1997, led the negotiations to extend the RFA in 2017 and worked with the forest industry to develop the 2017 forest industry growth strategy. She has experience on the board of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority and, from 2014 to 2018, was the Director of Forest Policy in the Tasmanian Department of State Growth. In 2018, she was appointed CEO of Private Forests Tasmania which is the only government‑funded authority established in Australia to specifically promote, foster and assist the private forestry sector on forestry matters. Its responsibilities include native forests and plantations, and both large‑scale and small‑scale growers, including farm foresters. It provides strategic and policy advice to the Tasmanian Government on private forestry issues and represents Tasmanian private forest owners’ interests nationally. She is also chair of the Forestry and Forest Products Committee which is comprised of senior representatives of the forestry policy agencies of the Australian, state, territory and New Zealand governments.

Terms of reference

The Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) was established as the Forest and Wood Products Council under the Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002 (RFA Act).The purpose of the council is to provide the Minister for Agriculture or his/her delegate (minister) with advice and information on a range of issues associated with the forest and wood products sectors and recommendations on proposed policies impacting on the sectors.

Aim

The council’s aim is to provide timely information and advice from a cross-section of industry participants on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s forest and wood products sectors.

Expected deliverables

The council will provide advice, specific to the responsibility of the Australian Government, on:

  • issues facing Australia’s forest and wood products sectors
  • initiatives to foster investment, growth and sustainability of Australia’s forest and wood products sectors
  • infrastructure priorities for continued growth
  • strategic priorities to support industry best practice
  • priorities for relevant research and development and innovation bodies
  • other forestry issues as raised by the membership or requested by the minister.

Scope

The council will limit the scope of its advice to those issues facing Australia’s forest and wood products sectors.

Membership

The chair of the council will be approved by the Prime Minister.

There will be up to 12 members of the council including the chair.

Members will be chosen by the Prime Minister for their expertise, understanding of forestry issues and ability to consider the long-term interests of the industry.

Members will be appointed for a period of up to three years.

Expected lifespan

The council will be ongoing in accordance with subsection 11(1) of the RFA Act.

Meetings

The council will meet at least twice in every calendar year. The council can convene a meeting through written request to the minister from a majority of members. Meetings can be held in person or by teleconference.

Supporting structures

Support and secretariat functions will be provided by the Department of Agriculture.

Contact

For any enquiries about FIAC, please contact the FIAC secretariat or by post at:

FIAC Secretariat, Forestry Branch
Department of Agriculture
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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