A lush old growth forest with manferns in the foreground

The Verification Group

An Independent Expert Group has been formed to verify the high conservation values of native forests nominated under the Tasmanian Forests Agreement and their compatibility with sustainable wood supply requirements for industry.

The six-member group led by Professor Jonathan West is a key requirement of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement and is an important step in its delivery.

The members of the Verification Group have been appointed through  a shortlist that was agreed to by the signatories for their extensive expertise in forestry, forest ecology, conservation reserves, forest modelling and geology.

On March 23 the Independent Verification Group, through its Chairman made public their advice to Government.


Members of the Independent Verification Group and a brief background on their experience follow:


Professor Jonathan West Chair


Professor Jonathan West is founding Director of the Australian Innovation Research Centre.  Prior to assuming his current appointment, Professor West spent 18 years at Harvard University, where he was Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Business Administration.


Professor West’s teaching and research are in the fields of innovation and business strategy.  His work focuses on understanding the roots of superior performance in national innovation systems, particularly in the fields of agribusiness, the life sciences, and biotechnology.  West was faculty director for the Harvard Life Sciences Project, a cross-university initiative to understand the economic implications of the ongoing revolution in biotechnology.  He is also the author of a detailed study of advanced technology development in US and Japanese semiconductor companies, and has studied the technology development strategies of leading electronics firms in the US, Japan, Europe, Korea, and Taiwan.


Professor West has served as a consultant to and board member of major corporations around the world and as an advisory to several governments-including those of Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Japan, New Zealand, and several Australian states-particularly in fields of agribusiness, innovation policy, and economic development.  His doctoral and masters degrees are from Harvard University, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts majoring in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Sydney.  His research has appeared in many scholarly journals and several books.


Professor Ross Large University of Tasmania

He is a Professor of Geology and the Director of the Centre of Ore Deposit and Exploration Studies (CODES). He received his BSc from University of Tasmania in 1969, and PhD from University of New England in 1974. He worked in mineral exploration for Geopeko Ltd for 13 years. In 1983 he left the mineral exploration industry to accept a lecturing position at the University of Tasmania. In 1989 he established CODES — jointly funded by the Australian Research Council, University of Tasmania, the Mining Industry and State Government. Since then CODES has become recognised as one of the top ore deposit research centres in the world. His research interests include: the genesis of, and exploration for, stratiform sulfide deposits of Cu-Zn-Pb Ag-Au in volcanic arcs and sedimentary basins.


Dr Robert Smith

He is an experienced scientist, economist, resource planner, manager and adviser on the sustainable management and profitable use of natural resources. He has over 40 years experience in natural resource management, industry development (forestry, agriculture, water and biodiversity), eco-tourism and regulatory and certification systems. He has led large public sector organisations in Victoria and NSW (Director General of the Victorian Department of Treasury, the Victorian Department of Finance and the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation), and commercial organisations (CEO of State Forests of NSW). At State Forests of NSW, he was one of the architects of a framework for capturing carbon and biodiversity values associated with forest management. He has worked at the national level in Australia on Ministerial Councils for forestry, natural resources and agriculture, and on the Murray Darling Basin Commission. He has also worked at state and regional level in industry, while his international experience spans Papua New Guinea, the United States and Brazil. His current duties include Director of VicForests, the Forest Products Commission (Western Australia) and the Timber Industry Superannuation Scheme Pty Ltd.


Professor Brendan Mackey

Australian National University – Fenner School of Environment and Society He has worked as a research scientist with CSIRO and the Canadian Forest Service. He is member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Council in his role as a regional councilor for Oceania. He is also a member of the Earth Charter International Council; the Cape York Region Scientific and Cultural Advisory Committee; and the steering committee of a former Commonwealth Environment Research Facility Hub. Brendan is also a member of the editorial board for Pacific Conservation Biology. He co-convenes the first year course “The Blue Planet: an introduction to Earth System science” and convenes the graduate course “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation”. Prof Mackey was also an invited member of the 2nd Ad Hoc Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate change for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.


Dr Michael Lockwood University of Tasmania – School of Geography and Environmental Studies

He is a natural resource social scientist, with expertise in protected area management, environmental evaluation, natural resource management and environmental planning. He is Deputy Head of School and coordinates the school’s postgraduate coursework programs. He serves on the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council as well as the Sustainable Resources Research Committee of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism. He is an active member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Australasian Journal of Environmental Management and is a Corporate Member of the Planning Institute of Australia. Much of his work has been done in a multi-disciplinary context. He has published 3 books as well as articles in the leading international journals. His current research projects include Pathways to Good Practice in Regional NRM Governance; Estimating the Economic, Social and Environmental Value of Tourism in Protected Areas; Connectivity Conservation in Mountain Ecosystems; and User Pays Systems in Protected Areas.


Professor Mark Burgman Melbourne University – School of Botany

He worked as a consultant ecologist and research scientist in Australia, the United States and Switzerland during the 1980s before joining the University of Melbourne in 1990. He has received research grants from the Australian Research Council, government agencies, industry and private foundations. He has published four authored books, two edited books, over 140 research papers, and more than 50 reviewed reports and commentaries. His research has included models on a broad range of species including giant kelp, Orange-bellied Parrots, Leadbeater’s possums, bandicoots, and Banksias in a range of settings including marine fisheries, forestry, irrigation, electrical power utilities, mining, and national park planning. He was the winner of the 2005 Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research.


The Independent Verification Group consulted widely with external stakeholders and determined a framework for undertaking the work; this includes the establishment of a number of work plans which covered the following topics:

  1. Community and economic evaluation
  2. Forest conservation
  3. Geology and mineralogy
  4. Social, management and engagement
  5. Wood supply.