Groupama Australia mission, April 3 to 15, 2023
In recent years, France has experienced several consecutive summers of intense heat, low rainfall and major forest fires. The year 2022 was marked by fires of unprecedented intensity, speed of spread, extent and duration. French forestry professionals are keen to learn from Australian foresters about fire management, policy, emergency response, fire prevention and how global warming will affect forest management (plantations and native forests) in the future.
In April 2023, 32 French forestry professionals undertook a two-week study tour of southern Australia, visiting Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia. The trip was organized under the aegis of Groupama Fôret Assurances, a division of the French insurance group Groupama, one of the leading mutual insurers, specializing in fire, storm, frost, snow and third-party liability, and insuring over 400,000 ha of forests.
The main themes of the study tour were as follows:
– an overview of forestry in South Australia
– Forest and plantation fire management; and
– Adapting forestry practices in response to climate change, including forests and water.
These themes were identified as being of particular interest and relevance to the forestry sector in France, and reflect the changing risk profile that applies to forestry companies in both countries. Of particular interest were issues relating to the management of plantation and native forests.
Risk management in the forestry sector was of particular interest to the group:
– Fire preparedness and response;
– Rescue and recovery from fire losses; and
– The role of insurance as a risk management strategy for plantations.
Ideally, the itinerary should be set well in advance of the visit.
Additional requests for content or engagement with professionals outside existing networks proved difficult and sometimes hard to meet. Some state jurisdictions were more difficult than others due to the degree of interest and political involvement of the state.
The role of forestry centers varied, as did their commitment to participating in program planning.
9 days of contact and connection
3 Australian states visited: Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia
30+ presenters – over 9 days
20+ Number of agencies contacted
1 contact with the State Minister for Forest Industries
1 Reception with the Honorary Consulate General of France and guests