FWPA CEO Andrew Leighton committed to growth

Andrew Leighton shares his thoughts on research and development in the forestry industry and his vision for sustainability and growth.

“I’ve been directly involved with research and development (R&D) since my early days,” said Andrew Leighton, recently appointed CEO of FWPA.

Andrew has extensive experience with forestry industries in Australia and internationally, working as an industry representative on the research program committee for the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican), as a member of FIAC, and as Vice Chairman of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) before starting his role at FWPA.

Andrew believes that R&D has a big role to play in the future of industry. “R&D is increasingly pertinent for forestry in Australia as we strive to make wood products the preferred medium for construction and other uses,” said Andrew.

Currently, Australia’s limited forestry estate isn’t sufficient to support the forestry industry. “Research and development are key to finding ways to optimise productivity and yield from the existing estate, as well as identifying the silvicultural improvements that might support its further expansion,” said Andrew.

“Technology is constantly evolving in the industry, so there are plenty of exciting opportunities for forest growers and processors to move up the supply chain and maximise value.”

Andrew anticipates there will be many possibilities for increased and varied use of wood and wood products in developing the future of forestry.

“I think there’s real potential to do more with biomaterials and bioproducts,” he said. 

“Australia is also already on the road to using mass timber as a renewable and more environmentally sustainable alternative for high to mid-rise buildings, and eventually making wood and timber products the first choice for construction.

“FWPA performs an important role in this space by scanning the horizon for developments internationally and incorporating that knowledge in the Australian context,” said Andrew.

Andrew also believes it’s important that FWPA, in collaboration with the industry, continues to promote the benefits of wood and wood products to consumers as well as the design and build sector.

“I think wood and wood products have a very positive environmental story to tell. They are a sustainable resource as promoted through FWPA’s The Ultimate Renewable™ brand,” said Andrew. “Promoting the positive attributes of wood and wood products benefits members and the Australian public.”

Ultimately, Andrew would like to see the industry grow considerably, “even doubling in size by 2050.”