As featured in the Timber and Forestry E News

IT was a double celebration at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) Salisbury Research Facility last Friday.

The entire staff, along with forest industry luminaries, gathered to applaud the awarding of the centre’s finalist merit certificate in the coveted Richard Stanton Memorial Award and the 25-year service to wood research by its project manager Dr Robbie McGavin.

The award, recognising the life of a man devoted to the forest industry, was presented by Simon Dorries, CEO, Responsible Wood.

Mr Dorries said with the largest number of nominations since the award was established five years ago, Responsible Wood, for the first time, presented three finalist merits this year. The other recpients were Richard Kirk of Kirk Architects for his commitment to certified timber and Anthonino Stonjek of AKS Forest Management Services for his dedication to certification standards.

Salisbury’s award entry centred on the work by the QDAF Forest Product Innovation team to deliver and validate technologies that transform low-value forest resources and sub-optimum quality logs into sustainable, high-value construction and aesthetic products suitable for Australian and international markets.

This focus aligns perfectly with DAF’s requirements to undertake R&D supporting their Sustainable Forest Management certification in accordance with AS 4708:2013. Findings have supported the successful development and commercialisation of veneer-based bridge girders and other engineered timber bridge components.

The event – on November 13 – was the actual date 25 years ago when Dr McGavin first entered the wood research profession. For all but a few years, he has worked at QDAF Salisbury, his accomplishments peaking in 2016 with a PhD for research in small diameter log processing and new spindleless veneer lathe technology.

The writer recalls taking Dr McGavin on his first overseas mission with 28 other industry leaders in 2001 that included Italy, Austria and Germany (for the Hanover LIGNA machinery fair).

Since then his research projects have taken him across many regions, including southeast Asia, China and Fiji and most of Australia from Cape York to Tasmania.

“I’ve been fortunate to help steer QDAF Salisbury through some exciting times over the past 25 years to where it is now – a well-equipped and relevant timber research hub and one of the most respected on the world stage,” Dr McGavin said.

He said early forestry mentors that inspired his career included David Gough, Dr Graeme Palmer, Dr Michael Kennedy and Myron Cause.

“In the same category I would put Bill Leggate my research team buddy who started at Salisbury in 1995, and Dr Henri Bailleres (former team leader and now product development manager at Hyne),” Dr McGavin said.

“Henri put in 12 years at Salisbury and I have nothing but the highest respect for his skills and knowledge.”

He added: “About 12 months ago we celebrated 100 years of forest research in Queensland. I’m proud to have been around for a quarter of that!”

Dr McGavin celebrated the silver anniversary later in the day with his wife of 23 years Angela and their two daughters Alexis and Louisa.

Responsbile Wood is the National Governing Body for PEFC Australia. To find out more about Sustainable Forest Management please visit the Responsible Wood website.