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Farewell and Thanks to Steve Read


Dr Steve Read

Dr Steve Read, Chief Scientist at Forestry Tasmania for the past seven years, was farewelled at an informal lunchtime barbecue at Sandy Bay on 7th October 2011.  Steve was an important contributor to the research effort at the CRC through his role as Chairperson of the Program Coordinating Committee for CRC Program 4, Trees in the Landscape.  The recent downturn in the forest industry and the intergovernmental forest agreement has significantly impacted FT’s sustainable forest management business and has resulted in a down-sizing of the research workforce.  Steve is now working as an independent biologist in Hobart while creating his next career move.

In Forestry Tasmania’s 2010-2011 annual report, Steve stated that “Research has been described as the conversion of dollars into knowledge, whereas innovation is the subsequent conversion of that knowledge into a greater amount of dollars.”  As Chief Scientist for a public forestry business, Steve directed scientific research to address commercially important issues in the forest industry and pushed for innovative application of scientific principles to sustainable forest management.  A proponent of adaptive management, he oversaw the introduction of aggregated retention as a viable alternative to clearfell, burn and sow practices in Tasmania’s wet sclerophyll forests.  A long term project on plantation pests, in particular beetles, saw the release this year of the Tasmanian Forest Insect Collection website. Steve also introduced a carbon research program to FT, which aims to understand the magnitude of carbon stores in forests, the dynamics of carbon sequestration and release, and their potential for climate change mitigation.

Steve played an active role in attracting external funds for research beyond the traditional fields of silviculture and forest ecology. He was instrumental in winning funding for carbon and hydrology research through Forests and Wood Products Australia for the work being undertaken by Martin Moroni (click here to read recent conference abstract by Martin Moroni) and Sandra Roberts.

Demonstrating Steve’s intellectual flexibility and rigour, John Hickey (Forestry Tasmania) recounts Steve’s role in correcting a mathematical model that predicted, with a 95% ‘certainty’, that the wedge-tailed eagle would go extinct over the next 200 years. Steve worked patiently with the modellers from the University of Melbourne and re-examined all elements of their model, which now predicts that there is a 95% probability that the eagle will not go extinct over the next 200 years. The improved model has now been published formally, and we hope that someone has told the eagles the good news!

One significant role that Steve took on for the CRC for Forestry was his leadership in convening the Old Forests New Management Conference, held in Hobart in 2008. This conference attracted around 200 scientists from more than 20 countries who discussed leading edge approaches to native forestry. The delegates were genuinely impressed with Tasmania’s high standards of forestry, its world class reservation system and its innovation in developing variable retention techniques in old growth wet eucalypt forests.

We would like to thank Steve for his thoughtful, provocative and insightful contributions to all the RP4 projects, in particular for his support of the Biodiversity Research Group.  We wish Steve the best of luck in his future endeavours ... wherever they may lead!

Steve’s new contact details are as follows:
Mobile: 0408 170915