I'm not in the habit of quoting Environmental awareness group Planet Ark.

But something it said last year caught my attention.

"Make It Wood – Do Your World Some Good".

At a time when the one-line grab seems to be our preferred form of communication, it’s an effective line.

I quote Planet Ark's "Make It Wood Campaign" because it highlights both the renewable nature of wood and its valuable capacity to store carbon.

The Campaign rightly points out that substituting wood for energy intensive products like steel, concrete and bricks is good for our planet. Hard to argue with that!

But it's also good our economy and for jobs.

All of us here want Australia to continue to be a country which makes things.

Australia is well placed to be a major provider of wood and fibre products to an increasingly wealthy and product-hungry Asia. But it will only happen if we are smart about it.

I’ve long talked a lot about the Asia-led 'Dining Boom' – the opportunity to capitalise on Australia’s clean, green and safe food image and our proximity to the main source of booming food demand.

But it is now also timely to talk about the “Fibre Boom” – the opportunity to deliver wood products into a market hungry for just about everything.

The things we manufacture in Australia will now never include things like T-shirts which others can make paying people $1 per day.

But we can continue to make things in areas where we have, and can build upon, comparative and competitive advantages.

In the wood products industry, these advantages are significant.

• The first of them is our proximity to a growing Asia market.

• The second is the local presence of both a skilled workforce and global wood-product based companies.

• The third is the potential to leverage off global carbon markets and biofuels incentives.

• The fourth is our well known and recognised capacity to innovate.

• The fifth is our capacity to responsibly source from naturally re-growing forests and to produce plentiful plantation forests.

The friendship group is determined to ensure the forest and forest products industries are given the best chance of making the most of the opportunities ahead.

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