The View - July 2016
Leadbeater’s Possum new colonies update
Since February 2015 there has been a total of 259 new Leadbeater's Possum colonies verified. 205 of those have been identified in State forest.
Every time a new Leadbeater's Possum colony is verified in an area planned for harvest a 12 hectare Special Protection Zone is placed around the sighting to protect the colony from any timber harvesting activities.
To read more about what VicForests is doing to support the recovery of the Leadbeater’s Possum please visit our dedicated Leadbeater’s Possum page here.
Sustaining the native timber industry for five generations
Family has always been an integral part of the A.G Brown Sawmill.
Five generations have worked in the Victorian native hardwood industry for almost 100 years and seven of the 55 current staff at the sawmill are members of the Brown family.
Seventy-five per cent of the approximately 1800 cubic meters of timber the sawmill processes each month produces high quality furniture, flooring, staircases and decking.
Graeme Brown, Owner of A.G Brown Sawmills, said that their best quality Highland Oak (Mountain Ash) timber is used to produce furniture and staircases throughout Australia and is the only product of its kind in the country.
“Due to the unique length of the Highland Oak, there is no other sawmill in Australia that is able to produce the same quality product,” he said.
They also operate a minimal waste policy meaning that the remaining 25 per cent of timber that is not processed into furniture or flooring is used in other quality products such as structural timber, firewood, pallets, woodchips, wood shavings and sawdust.
Graeme said that he feels great satisfaction when watching the transformation process of the timber from the forest to the home.
“It is such a great feeling to see the whole process from when VicForests harvests the timber to when it is processed through our mill and then transformed into a beautiful piece of furniture.” He said.
Robert Green, VicForests CEO said that VicForests has a huge amount of respect for the hard work its customers put into producing quality timber products.
“It’s businesses like A.G Brown Sawmill that keep the sustainable native timber industry alive. Our customers are a vital part of timber production and it is encouraging to see a family run business that is so committed to the future success of the industry,” he said.
Emily Brown, A.G Brown Sawmill Noojee said that her great, great grandfather Andrew Brown and his two brothers with their parents started up Brown Brothers Sawmills in 1920 at the current Noojee site.
“Sawmilling and timber runs through our veins. Andrew passed away just before the Noojee mill burnt down in the 1939 bushfires which resulted in the mill closing down.
“My Grandfather Graham Brown Senior was just a child when the mill closed but he grew up working in sawmills and driving log trucks, continuing to raise our family in the sawmilling business, until eventually rebuilding the Noojee mill in the early 1970’s,” she said.
Graeme and Julie, Graham Brown Senior’s son and daughter, now own and operate the mills in Noojee and Drouin West.
Julie’s daughter Emily operates out of the mill in Noojee and is raising her two children Cooper and Ryan to one day continue as the sixth generation sawmillers in the family business.
All timber at Browns Sawmill is supplied by VicForests from sustainably managed forests.
Both VicForests and A.G Brown Sawmill are certified to the Australian Forestry Standard Limited a PEFC recognised organisation.
Timber Release Plan community consultation period
The Timber Release Plan will be open for community consultation shortly. Please look out for an email signifying the commencement period.
Community feedback is sought on specific operational aspects of our proposed harvesting plans including any concerns regarding:
- The timing of harvesting operations;
- The use of particular haulage routes;
- The proximity of proposed harvesting to private property; or public use areas; or
- The identification and protection of forest values within specific harvesting sites.
A schedule of all proposed changes and maps indicating approximate coupe locations will be available on our website shortly at www.vicforests.com.au/proposedtrp.
VicForests will respond to all correspondence received.
Community Support Program outcomes
VicForests has now contacted the recipients of the 2016 Community Support Program and has begun putting into place the funding for various community programs across Victoria.
There were 31 successful applicants of this year’s program totalling around $60,000 in grants. The program is intended to contribute to the wellbeing of local communities by providing grants of up to $2,000 to charity, sporting, educational and community groups in regional Victoria.
Some community groups who were successful this year include the Baw Baw Combined Churches food relief program, Glengarry Primary School tree planting program, Redwood Community Centre youth drop-in program, Mount Beauty & District Men’s Shed landscaping and gardening program, Green Park Kindergarten garden in Horsham and the Hepburn Health Service for patient observation machines.
VicForests received well over a hundred applications this year and unfortunately is not able to always help out every applicant but encourages community groups to continue to apply in the coming year’s programs.
The initiative, which is now in its seventh year, has provided over $350,000 to communities as well as a number of in-kind donations and ongoing support to other groups and services across the State.
Forest Industry Taskforce
Timber harvesting in Victoria’s Central Highlands worth $573 million annually
A newly released study has found timber harvesting in Victoria’s native forests north-east of Melbourne generates $573 million worth of economic activity each year.
The study was undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) and focussed specifically on the Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) area which covers 623,000 hectares of public land to the north-east of Melbourne.
VicForests CEO, Robert Green, said $573 million in revenue is generated as a result of timber harvesting operations on 0.3% of the public land in the region each year.
“This study is a fact-based analysis of the economic benefits provided by any part of the native timber industry in Victoria and the findings highlight the important economic contribution the industry makes to our economy.
“DAE found native timber harvesting in this specific region of Victoria alone supports more than 2,100 direct jobs.
“Other studies suggest there are thousands more jobs in secondary processing and further downstream manufacturing that rely on timber from this region in addition to the direct jobs recognised in this latest report.” Mr Green said.
Mr Green said DAE modelled the impact of the native timber industry in the Central Highlands RFA area on Victoria’s economy using its Regional General Equilibrium Model (DAE-RGEM) which predicts changes in measures such as GDP, employment, export volumes and investment.
DAE is Australia’s pre-eminent economic advisory practice and this study used conservative assumptions to ensure the findings were robust and can be widely distributed.
Another report recently released by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) suggested it costs $5 million to create a single job in the native timber industry in Victoria.
Mr Green said that this report ignores the revenue generated by primary processing of native timber in Victoria, as well as the thousands of associated jobs that are required for processing timber after harvesting and haulage operations.
"Without these mills, and without the significant demand for our local timber, there would be no need to cultivate trees or engage forestry support services.
"The PwC report was drafted relying only on selected publicly available information and no clarification or further detail was sought from VicForests or any timber industry body.
"However, the report did acknowledge that VicForests operates profitably.
“Our own public reporting shows that VicForests has recorded a net profit of more than $20 million since being created in 2004.
"Our focus remains on the long term economic returns to Victoria, which includes maintaining thousands of regional jobs and the associated businesses that generate hundreds of millions of revenue dollars annually," Mr Green said.
A full copy of the DAE report is available to view at www.vicforests.com.au/about-vicforests/economic-report
Going Bush pre-harvest surveys
The team from Channel Seven’s Going Bush recently travelled to the Central Highlands in Victoria to begin filming a Going Bush episode on VicForests pre-harvest surveys.
The filming took place in the Toolangi State Forest where one of our external ecology experts placed infra-red cameras and bait stations to survey for Leadbeater’s Possum colonies.
VicForests engages external ecologists in all regions it operates as a part of its pre-harvest surveys to look for a range of threatened species when planning its harvesting operations.
Going Bush is a series that tells the story of Australia’s forestry industry to an audience of around 100,000 viewers across the country.
Click here to read more about VicForests pre-harvest surveys.