Funding drought hits forestry

FORESTRY FUTURE: Staff and board members Paul Ryan, Bronwyn Lloyd, Tim Frodsham, Paul Daly and Sean Ryan.
FORESTRY FUTURE: Staff and board members Paul Ryan, Bronwyn Lloyd, Tim Frodsham, Paul Daly and Sean Ryan. Contributed

EXECUTIVE officer for Private Forestry Service Queensland Inc, Sean Ryan said 2012-13 had been challenging and saw the end of the Caring for Country funded projects.

"This has meant our future is 100% reliant on consultancy and management roles for corporate and private organisations," he said.

"The foreseeable future looks like a drought of Federal and State funding opportunities."

But Mr Ryan said the outlook was positive and the first few months of the financial year had been hectic.

He said the component of C4C funding delivered well above the set milestones, with 22,000 hectares of treated forest and more than 100,000ha under an appropriate fire management regime.

"That program also included a lot of work with property owners and field days," Mr Ryan said.

"There were 1800 people attending 64 field days and it is strongly anticipated that those skills will be used to greatly increase forest management practices."

Mr Ryan said the project dealt with 17 farming systems from Hervey Bay to northern New South Wales.

He said it had a public/private investment ratio of 1:4.57, providing good value for the funding dollar.

Better staff accommodation is being provided on the Ergon-owned Doughboy property at Gin Gin. This was necessary as Private Forestry Service Queensland changed operational strategy and was using its staff, rather than outsourcing work.

Mr Ryan said that would keep staff employed, as well as improving returns.

He said the purchase of a skidder would reduce reliance on contractors and allow greater value use of logs.

"We have carried out a lot of very successful eucalypt thinning using the chopper roller," Mr Ryan said. "This enabled the remaining trees to double their growth rate."

Chairman Paul Ryan said the Woodworks Museum section of activities had completed the first redevelopment phase, with new displays and more working exhibits and the restoration of the mill to a working state.

Mr Ryan thanked the Gympie Regional Council for its role in retaining the museum as an integral part of the city's cultural heritage.

"On top of a very busy year we also organised and hosted the Biannual Australian Forest Growers conference," Mr Ryan said. "This was successful and generated a huge amount of positive comments in relation to the museum."

Mr Ryan said the diverse range of jobs and management carried out attracted the interest of overseas and national governments and organisations.

"This led to the possibility of work in Samoa and also helping the Victorian government set up a similar group (to PFSQ)," he said.

Operations manager Gary Clarke discussed the use of tree guards, concluding unless specifically asked for by a client, they would not be used in planting projects.

"Tree guards are hugely labour intensive and do not make weed control any easier, as weeds will grow inside the guard," he said.

The election of board members saw Mick Capelin elected in a move by Private Forestry Service Queensland to undertake a small directional change towards planning, rather than all board members having a strong forestry background.

Topics:  forestry private forestry service queensland

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