The durability of Tasmanian timber will be increased and technology will be enhanced under a new $5.5 million research program for the forestry sector.

The inaugural round of projects funded by the Launceston centre of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation has been announced.

Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Senator Richard Colbeck said the projects would provide economic returns to Tasmania’s forest industries and the local economy.

“The lessons learned here will help lead the way across Australia,” he said.

“Global demand for timber products is expected to quadruple by 2050 and the Coalition Government’s National Forest Industries Plan will deliver world-class research and one billion new trees to meet that demand.”

Recipients in Tasmania include:

• Private Forestry Tasmania – optimising machinery configurations for profitable harvesting operations of small-scale plantations.

• Sustainable Timber Tasmania – sensing technology and digital tools to support decision-making in hardwood timber drying.

• Britton Timbers – increasing the durability and other material characteristics of Tasmanian hardwoods.

• Neville Smith – developing a new generation of Tasmanian appearance hardwood products for in-state design and manufacturing.

• CLTP Panels – developing laminated structural elements from fibre-managed plantation hardwood.

Mr Colbeck said the investment would play a vital role in fostering collaboration, supporting cutting edge research, boosting innovation, growing jobs and securing Tasmania’s place as the centre for forest-industry research.

Resources Minister Sarah Courtney said Tasmania had a proud history of supporting a sustainable and well-managed forestry sector.

“These exciting and innovative projects will maximise the economic value of our forest products, ensuring sustainable jobs into the future,” Ms Courtney said.

“The Tasmanian forest industry continues to evolve into a sophisticated, high-value industry.”

The second round of grants will open soon. The Australian and Tasmanian governments are contributing $1.9 million to the first round of successful projects – which is being matched by $3.6 million of funding and in-kind contributions from the forestry industry and research agencies.