Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin is encouraging forest industries to apply for grants under the Rudd Government’s $5 million research fund to help the sector adapt to climate change.

Ms Saffin has welcomed Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke’s announcement of the new Forest Industries Climate Change Research Fund.

“I have been working with Lismore’s Southern Cross University, private forestry and the forest products industry on the need to develop sustainable bioenergy initiatives,” Ms Saffin said.

“I know that all of the large timber mills in my electorate and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) are vitally interested in this kind of research work because sawmills can literally choke on sawdust build-ups.

“If we can establish a biofuels industry out of forestry waste, rather than do it by harvesting much-needed food crops, it will support jobs on the Northern Rivers and be good for the environment.

“The Government is looking for forestry research projects that focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation as well.”

Ms Saffin said expressions of interest now were open for grants of up to $500,000 under the Forest Industries Climate Change Research Fund.

Research could include:

Links between increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, changing rainfall patterns, water availability, fire risk and pest and disease threats;

Expanding knowledge of carbon in harvested wood products and how to include in international carbon accounting rules;

Opportunities to reduce emissions and improve carbon sequestration;

Overcoming impediments to increasing the use of recycled wood and paper products; and

Bioenergy opportunities for wood-related waste and residue.

Applications close at 4pm (AEST) on August 20, 2009. For more information visit www.daff.gov.au/ficcrf or phone 02 6272 5079.