A sawmill in SA’s mid-north has planted the first pine seedlings since bushfires devastated timber stocks in the Wirrabara Forest in 2014.
- SA sawmill plants first pine to secure its long-term future
- The plantation depends on sourcing burnt timber from Kangaroo Island economically
- 2014 bushfires burnt the Wirrabara Forest and the mill’s timber supplies
The Morgan Sawmill in Jamestown will plant around 1.5 million seedlings in stages over the next 10 years, which could cost them as much as $3 million.
Sawmill owner Luke Morgan said the pine grew slowly and could take around 20 years to mature for harvesting.
He said the trees were part of a 50-year cycle to secure the mill’s long-term future.
“I’m the third generation and I won’t see any of these trees in my mill while I’m there.
“It’s for the fourth generation of sawmilling and employment for the regional areas,” he said.
But Mr Morgan said that the success of this plantation was dependent on whether their current supply of burnt timber from Kangaroo Island could be made economically viable.
“The biggest [cost] is the ferry, that’s very expensive because it’s set up for tourism, so the pricing is very high,” he said.
“We are getting log from there now but it’s at a loss because of the expenses we’re incurring.”
Independent Senator for SA Rex Patrick also attended the replanting and said he was working with Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam to help transport the Kangaroo Island timber.
Senator Patrick said he wanted to get a program already available in New South Wales and Victoria extended to South Australia.
A seven-year delay
Mr Morgan said that following the bushfires in 2014, it took his business until 2019 to semi-finalise their purchase of 1,600 hectares of fire-affected forest from the state government.
“So we’ve got a lease at the moment that will be converted to an ownership hopefully. But it took that long, that the native vegetation claimed the land back.”
ForestrySA’s 2013-14 annual report shows it returned $19 million used to fund its fire insurance back to the former SA government because the forest was not worth insuring.
Senator Patrick said this money should have been retained so replanting of the burnt forests could have happened immediately.
“That couldn’t happen because the money had been taken away by the [former] state government.
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