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Southern Cross University seeks land for forest gift


Brigid Veale
3 July 2005
Southern Cross University is on the look out for land — but at the moment can't see either the forest or the trees.

A potential benefactor has offered to support Southern Cross University's forestry and environmental science programs by way of a large tract of land, up to 1000 hectares or more, with the search now on for suitable land.

SCU forestry researcher Professor Jerry Vanclay said the gesture was a major opportunity for forestry teaching and research, but progress was being frustrated by a lack of available land.

"This is potentially a living breathing gift to the university — a forest. However, our search through local agencies for suitable land hasn't yet yielded a result," he said.

"What's required is land in the north of New South Wales, partly native forest and partly cleared land, located no more than 60 or 90 minutes drive from SCU's Lismore campus.

"We are aware many local properties never actually go on the market and we might reach an interested vendor by public appeal."

Professor Vanclay said the potential benefactor viewed forestry as an important part of the community's sustainable future, and universities as important for solutions to future issues and problems.

He said the proposal for SCU to have its own forests allowed greater freedom to conduct research and experiential research. Work would focus on management of forests for timber, wildlife and carbon, carbon sequestration or withdrawal.

"The cleared land would be used to establish plantation trials with local species and to monitor carbon storage as a mechanism to offset greenhouse gas emissions. The natural forest would be used to research the coexistence of production and conservation by forestry and environmental science students," he said.

"SCU enjoys a good relationship with local forest industries and forest owners, but some research is limited by commercial objectives. Having our own forest would create new opportunities for long-term research."

The required property would be 1000 hectares or more, within 90 minutes driving time from Lismore, with the possibility of a selling or retiring farmer continuing to live on the farm. For more information contact Professor Jerry Vanclay on phone 02 66203650.