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Branchline, Nov 18, 2011


Southwood sawmill back in action soon

The sawmill at Southwood will soon crank back into life under new ownership. Dell Vista, a new company headed by well known sawmiller Ken Last has purchased the mill from Gunns Limited and all is now in place for operations to resume. FT has negotiated a wood supply agreement for 40,000 cubic metres of sawlog for the mill, consistent with the Tasmanian Forest Intergovernmental Agreement. The investment by Dell Vista is a welcome sign of confidence in the timber industry, and we certainly welcome the company with open arms, as I am sure will those workers who have found jobs in the mill. It was a shame to see this modern piece of infrastructure lying idle, and personally I can't wait to get back down to Southwood to see it return to being a hive of activity.
As we approach the end of the calendar year, Forestry Tasmania along with other forestry companies in the State is turning its attention to the Christmas break. It is normal for many in the harvesting, export and processing sectors to shut down for a short period over the festive season, but given the current uncertainties in the industry, the break this year is likely to be longer than usual for at least some companies.
We have been advised by Artec that it intends to apply a temporary shutdown of its hardwood chipping operation from tonight (Friday 18 November) until mid January, although its Bell Bay plant will continue to process softwood until at least the end of this month.
This extended break is the result of a knock-on effect from Asian customers who are reducing stock levels in the lead up to the Chinese New Year, and have deferred until January two planned shipments from Bell Bay.
With the Triabunna mill still closed and unlikely to re-open for at least four months, the extended Artec shutdown presents challenges for FT. While there will be no market for export woodchips for the six weeks, Forestry Tasmania will continue to supply the State's sawmillers and processors during the interim period.
On a more positive note, Forestry Tasmania has secured orders for two shipments prior to Christmas with mixed loads of whole log and softwood chips, and we are also making progress on our Innovations Plan. A key plank of the plan is to rotary peel wood that would otherwise have been exported as chips, and I am pleased to say negotiations with potential investors in value adding plants in Tasmania are progressing satisfactorily.
It is also pleasing that some of our customers too are thinking outside the square and looking at opportunities that have not previously been explored. Shane Dohnt from Gondwana Forest Products has opened a retail outlet for high value turnery and knife making woods in Seattle (U.S.A.). Shane is marketing not only Tassie's very special timbers, but also woods from other Australian states. The new venture, while small in size will ensure Tasmanian timbers are on the must have list for professional wood artisans around the world. Items will be marketed through as well as walk-in trade through the Seattle shop. Good luck with the new venture Shane.
The Mark Webber Challenge returns to Tasmania this December after a three year hiatus. The Challenge will see teams from around the world doing mountain biking, kayaking and trekking across 350km of Tasmania's best locations. On Saturday 10th December the Challenge takes on the Tahune Airwalk, where competitors will actually abseil from the AirWalk structure. So this is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the AirWalk while taking in all the excitement of the Mark Webber Challenge as a spectator, as a special treat book in the family for an overnight stay in our new AirWalk lodge.
Speaking of things 'touristy', this week Hollybank Treetop Adventures launched their new Segway tours, providing visitors with an exciting new way to experience the forest on two wheels. The 2 hour tour takes visitors on an exhilarating glide along forest tracks through the Hollybank Reserve using revolutionary self balancing Segway adventure vehicles. It's fantastic to see our partners in this venture investing in the future of ecotourism in Tasmania. To read more about the Segways or to book your new adventure (click here).
And finally for the diary, on Wednesday Dec 7 our Sustainability Manager, Dr Simon Grove will be presenting the next Forestry Talk 'Sustaining sustainability'. This will be the 5th presentation in the current series, if you missed the previous talk by Dr Sandra Roberts on water use of plantations in the Florentine Valley, you can view the presentation on-line by clicking here. Forestry Tasmania has been presenting an annual series of Forestry Talks since 2003 on a variety of topics and complimentary DVD's of each series is available to order from our website.

Until next time,

Bob Gordon

Managing Director
Forestry Tasmania




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