Forestry campaign branches out

Two local young foresters feature in a new campaign to promote the industry to school students.

Jack Carter and Courtney Pink are two of the faces of new resources launched during Careers Week that allow school students of all ages to glimpse a virtual day in the life of different people working in forestry and wood without leaving the classroom. 

The duo’s work is being showcased as part of ForestLearning’s successful ForestVR technology, which has expanded with new engaging, immersive and educational virtual reality (VR) experiences focussing on careers.

Ms Pink, a forester with SFM Asset Management, works to grow and produce timber, while sustainably managing and protecting the environment, including trees, plants and animals, waterways and Indigenous Australian cultural sites.

An environmental forester and ecologist with Australian Bluegum Plantations, Mr Carter carries out wildlife surveys, native forest regeneration, the building and installing of nesting hollows.

This work is conducted with a view to ensuring Australia’s hardwood plantation forests – and all the timber products sourced from them – remain amongst the most sustainable in the world. 

ForestVR’s Careers in Forests and Wood series will transport students virtually into Australia’s forest and wood products industry to discover some of the people who work there and the many different and rewarding careers the industry has to offer.

The original ForestVR toolkit was launched in 2019 and was designed through extensive consultation with teachers and the forestry industry, with the goal of educating students on the renewable cycle of productive forests to create wood products like timber and paper in a new way. 

With the onset of restrictions on excursions and work experience programs around Australian schools due to COVID-19, ForestVR provides a timely solution to geographical access problems, while also overcoming the safety issues associated with visits to physical forests and timber processing facilities. 

The Careers in Forests and Wood virtual reality tools will give students a first-hand insight into what three different careers in forestry and wood processing involve.

Additional new ForestVR experiences will also launch next month with the world-first Forest Science Explorers series, developed for primary school students to visit four of Australia’s unique forest types in 360-degrees and compare their adaptions to their local environment – the wet eucalypt forests of Tasmania, cypress pine forests of western Queensland and New South Wales, dry eucalypt forests of eastern Australia and Jarrah forests of Western Australia.  

The final theme in the new ForestVR series is Agroforestry: Trees at work on the farm, that will allow high school students to pay an immersive visit to three farms around Australia that are successfully incorporating trees into their farming landscapes to achieve a range of economic, social and environmental benefits.

ForestLearning program manager Beth Welden said the latest suite of VR experiences represents a significant expansion to ForestVR and is testament to the popularity of ForestVR amongst Australian teachers.

“Teachers across Australia have told us how they have found ForestVR to be a technology-rich and highly effective way of engaging school students, by allowing them to visit places they would not normally have the opportunity to access during a school field trip,” she said.

“With this latest suit of experiences, we hope to provide even more meaningful educational opportunities, aligned to the Australian Curriculum, that educate students on a range of new topics and themes such as adaptations, biomes, sustainability, renewable resources, solutions for climate change and careers.”

All 360-degree experiences and tours can be viewed using a VR headset or classroom iPads, laptops and smart boards.

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