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Mrs Marie-Chantale Pelletier

Marie-Chantal PelletierMrs Marie-Chantale Pelletier

PhD student
Topic: Community benefits of using plantation hardwood for biofuel production on the NSW north coast

Southern Cross University

The ongoing climate change debate is proving a fertile platform for the emergence of new values, new directions and new economies.  Among the challenges and opportunities facing the management of natural resources, forests are called upon to play a central role in climate change mitigation.  The environmental benefits of forest ecosystems ideally position them to make important contributions not only as carbon sinks but also as feedstock for renewable energy.  Using wood for energy production such as electricity and transport fuels could help provide Australia with carbon-neutral energy and help achieve its Renewable Energy Target.

Unlike other commercial timber plantation regions of Australia, the NSW north coast has very limited markets for low-value timber.  Bioenergy could provide such a market, improving management and profitability of plantations, while contributing to the development of new rural economies based on renewable energy.  Bringing more than just employment to rural communities, the industry could become the basis of locally grown, processed and distributed products acceptable to the environmentally minded population.  Bioenergy production may lead to a convergence of values between the industry’s need to market low-value wood and the community's desire to draw more benefits from the expanding plantation estate. 

This project aims to assist communities and industry in making decisions that will promote long-term social sustainability in rural communities of the NSW north coast.  The project will assess the suitability of the plantation biomass for a range of biofuels, identify community values and perceptions towards bioenergy production and predict effects on employment levels and infrastructure.

This research is part of the CRC for Forestry's 'Communities' project (Project 4.3 of the 'Trees in the Landscape' program). 

I am based at Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW and my main supervisor is Prof. Jerry Vanclay.

Originally from Quebec City, Canada, I have gained a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from l’Université de Montréal in 1998.  I have been living in the Northern Rivers area of NSW for ten years now.  In that period I have completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Forestry) with Honours at Southern Cross University in 2006.  My Honours project looked at the genetic variation in shrinkage properties of plantation grown Blackbutt, an important timber species for the NSW industry.  My interests at the time focused on the need to improve the quality of plantation wood in the face of diminishing native-forest supply and future reliance on plantation resource.  Since completing the degree I have been working for a local company involved in processing hardwood flooring, private native forest harvesting and plantation establishment.  I hope this new research project can assist in developing a new market for low-value wood products in the region.