Sustainable over 130 years

ARBUTHNOT Sawmills Pty Ltd is proud to announce that the historic sawmill in Koondrook is now entering the 14th decade of sustainable timber harvesting and sawmilling on the same site in the Murray River border town where the founder Alexander Arbuthnot commenced in 1889.

One hundred and thirty years later, the sawmill is still milling the regeneration logs from the surrounding red gum forests, including Gunbower Island, Benwell and Gutterum in Victoria and Koondrook, Pericoota and Campbells Island in New South Wales and has maintained full-time employment in harvest and hauling and sawmilling jobs for this considerable period.

Currently the mill employs 15 full-time and seven part-time personnel, and has contracting businesses including, J. and G. Coulter Pty Ltd employing four, Swan Sawmill Pty Ltd employing four, Gelletly Redgum Firewood employing six and O'Brien Sawmills Pty Ltd employing five who are all involved in harvesting and hauling of logs and thinning operations. 

A total of 41 jobs are associated with the harvesting, hauling, milling, kiln drying, and firewood operations involved with Arbuthnot Sawmills Pty Ltd.

Arbuthnot Sawmills is proud to be part of the red gum industry in the region which employs the equivalent of 100 full-time workers. That equals 100 weekly wages and salaries being spent on goods and services in our towns and continuing the prosperity that the red gum industry has created since its inception in the 1850s.

Sustainability

MANY people ask, "where do the logs come from" and "can you still get red gum logs"

The answer is from the State Forests in Victoria and New South Wales and due to long-term licences issued to Arbuthnot Sawmills, log supply is guaranteed for many years to come. Due to the sustainable, selective harvesting the industry is able to harvest mature trees and allow for the next size classes and regeneration to grow on for future harvests.

To the credit of the foresters employed by VicForests in Victoria and Forest Corporation New South Walesa, they have made sure that the red gum forests are managed under what is known as "Sustainable Yield".

In simple terms "Sustainable Yield" means that industry cannot take out of the forest in a given period any more volume of mill logs than the forest can grow in that same period.

Forestry officials measure the incremental growth of the forest and can determine the sustainable supply on an annual basis. This can be compared with historic data and sophisticated measuring so that over- harvesting does not occur.

The forestry departments also practice "Silviculture" which is basically tending the forest to maintain the health of the trees and industry is contracted to thin the red gum forests so that there are not too many stems per hectare competing for moisture and nutrient. The thinning allows for the best stems to grow on to become mill logs for future harvests. The thinnings are utilised for firewood and support a very important firewood industry in the region.

As well as providing timber, the red gum forests have other values including flora and fauna, cultural heritage, tourism and apiary. All of the forest values are considered when a harvesting plan is drawn up prior to timber harvesting taking place.

Arbuthnot Sawmills managing director, Paul Madden inspects a consignment bound for a tourist railway project at Geelong.

Arbuthnot Sawmills managing director, Paul Madden inspects a consignment bound for a tourist railway project at Geelong.

PAUL MADDEN is the managing director of Arbuthnot Sawmills Pty Ltd.

READ the full report in the Gannawarra Times, Friday, May 31, 2019, or subscribe to the digital edition.

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