World Forestry Center Senior Fellow Rick Zenn delivered the keynote address at the first Australian Story of Our Trees conference. The two-day conference, hosted by the Forest Education Foundation, was held at the University of Tasmania School of Architecture & Design in Launceston, Tasmania.

The event brought together a broad cross-section of forestry professionals, teachers, and school administrators for lively group discussions, hands-on learning, and study tours.

The mission of the Forest Education Foundation is to “develop teacher and student knowledge about forest landscapes by providing educational opportunities that explore forest environments, resources and the future role of forests.”

Following the ceremonial opening of the conference, Zenn spoke about the importance of collaboration and encouraged participants to “add wood” to their activities and to take advantage of local expertise from business, government, universities, and non-profits. “They don’t have to be foresters,” said Zenn. “Find the connections. Social, economic, or environmental.”

While in Australia, Zenn attended the regional leadership meeting of the Australian ForestLearning program. ForestLearning is pioneering the use of virtual reality to bring forest and mill tours to classrooms across Australia.
Zenn also participated in pre-conference tours of Western Tasmania, which included mountain, river, and coastal forests, a craft Huon Pine mill in Strahan, a driving tour of the Forico Surrey Hills Estate near Bass Straight, and a morning visit to the remote Pieman River Hydrowood reservoirs where native hardwoods are recovered from hydroelectric projects. In addition, Zenn visited the historic Hollybank Reserve operated by Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the Narawntapu National Park.
While overnighting in Hobart, Zenn met with Dr. Sue Baker, 2010 World Forestry Center International Fellow and The Hagenstein Lectures speaker in 2016. Baker now works at the University of Tasmania as a Research Fellow for the School of Natural Sciences and the Australian Research Council Centre for Forest Value.
“There’s a huge value to these types of exchanges,” said World Forestry Center Deputy Director Sara Wu. “Hearing how our colleagues around the world are addressing the most pressing forestry issues is important because we’re all facing similar natural resource challenges.”
Thank you to the Forest Education Foundation for sponsoring Zenn’s trip.