Posted by Bernie Farquhar, Secretary East Gippsland Milling project.
The project is in full swing with two mills are operating 5 days a week. Five full time people who were previously unemployed, are now accredited in Forestry Management, chainsaw and Lucas mill operation and hold NATA certificates through our local TAFE.
Formation of East Gippsland Milling project Incorporated.
Partnership with BRV, DELWP, NRRA, Rotary, Lions, Minderoo.
105 properties registered.
33 completed
780 logs have been milled with an estimated retail value of $1.5 million.
$40k of timber surplus to property owner’s needs, donated to those property owners who do not have trees down.
Average time on spent on property is 3 weeks.
Average timeline for cutting logs with 50% moisture content is 4-5years dependant on weather and log location.
Greatest strengths, economic impact:
  1. We only cut fallen trees which are generally a waste product left by the devastation of 2019-20 fires. Thousands of trees were felled during this disaster from wind, fire and back burning operations. This created an enormous resource that would otherwise be chipped or burnt.
  2. Value of timber packs. The average price $15k cut per farm 10. The average cost of timber required to replace a small cattle yard is $35k.
  3. Our contractors are five passionate previously unemployed people who are now running 3 contracting companies. They had great training and mentoring programs supplied by TAFE, Rotary and Lions.
  4. Grant money was directly injected into East Gippsland economy with no overheads. The board is totally volunteered.
  5. For every tree we cut, we offer ten trees to landholders to plant. These trees are from seeds collected from local areas and propagated by volunteers and returned as saplings.
  6. Mental health. Our team manager lost her own home in the fires, as the first contact to our business her empathy makes  our project successful by getting the property owner out of the dark spot and re focused. Getting farmers involved in our operation helps get them back on track. We have letters from partners stating we have saved their partners lives and the farm.
  7. We bring the community together. Farmers drag logs from each other’s farms to milling sites. A lectern for the local hall was built from timber from farms where we cut logs. Community launches are held to bring farmers together with a chance to talk, discuss and plan.
  8. Facebook page "East Gippsland Milling Project".
We need further funding as our property owner list is growing.  Farmers and Lions club members have been retrieving logs and stacking them onto suitable sites ready for our teams to arrive.
We have purchased another mill and have trained and accredited another team in preparation.
We need another two mills to complete our goal of 105 properties in the 5-year window. The need is established, the formulae has been tested and works. Money is needed to provide our farmers and property owners with a tangible relief from two years of extraordinary circumstances and three years of drought prior to the fires and pandemic.