Chinese Friendship Medal for forestry research and education

November 15 / 170

Gary Waugh receiving his citation from Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai
Gary Waugh receiving his citation from Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai

Forestry researcher Gary Waugh last month received a Chinese Friendship Medal, the Chinese government’s highest recognition for foreign experts who have made an outstanding contribution to China’s economic and social progress.

The award was in recognition of his more than 25 years of association with universities in China and the Chinese Academy of Forestry. During this time Mr Waugh has been involved in the training of graduate students and research scientists and the development, collaboration and supervision of research projects.

Mr Waugh, an honorary Associate Professor in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, has worked closely with academics and industry to develop eucalypts as a replacement for diminishing south-east Asian tropical wood resources, and said he was surprised at the calibre of people receiving the award with him.

"There were 50 of us," he said. "A couple of Nobel Prize winners, UN envoys, university presidents and a few deans. Somewhere I fitted in."

Mr Waugh’s 50-year career has been primarily in forestry and forest products research with CSIRO. He returned to the University of Melbourne in 2002 as an honorary associate professor.

From 1995 to 2007 he was convenor of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisation eucalypt working group, involving 34 countries.

“I’ve worked in all continents except one,” he joked. “There are no trees in Antarctica.”

Head of the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences Gerd Bossinger said with an ever-increasing demand for sustainable building practices and materials, the field of wood science and research into sustainable forest products was experiencing a global resurgence.

“This award to Gary by the Chinese Government is a great honour and a timely reminder of Australia’s place and purpose in contributing to international economic and social progress,” Professor Bossinger said.

Mr Waugh is a Fellow of the Institute of Foresters of Australia, a Director of Timber Training Creswick and a visiting professor of the South China Forestry College, University of Guangxi.

Story by Daryl Holland

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