Bill Klower… some things don’t change, with seedlings still hand planted to ensure they are given the best chance to survive.

WITH Forestry Corporation NSW gearing to replant nearly 3000 ha of Bathurst state forests this year, silviculture supervisor Bill Klower is looking forward to seeing the start of another forestry cycle. 

Bill started work in the forestry industry in 1963 in Oberon; a decision that led to him to enjoy nearly six decades working in the forestry industry and overseeing around 100 million seedlings planted in the Bathurst region in the past 30 years. 

Over this time he has seen three seedling-to-sawlog rotations, delivering timber essential to building Australia’s homes and houses. 

He started as a chainman working for a surveyor in 1963, at a time when a lot of work was needed to locate forest boundaries. 

“The state forests had no boundary fences back in the day, so there was a lot work to be done to establish where forests actually started and finished,” Bill reflected.

“I was 16 at the time and had just left school, so the surveying work was a good opportunity. We’d leave home on Monday mornings and stay at one of the forest camps for the week. Some of the single workers lived there permanently, but most of us would head home again for the weekend. 

“At the start of the workday, we’d be bundled into the back of a truck and driven to the worksite. There weren’t many vehicles around at the time, so the truck would leave and come back at the end of the day to pick us up.” 

Over nearly 60 years, Bill has seen great change in the industry. 

“The biggest has been safety; there was virtually no attention to safety when I started, and now it is the key principle of what we do.”

Bill adds with a smile: “There is also a bit more paperwork. There was only one form when I started – the sick form.”

Some things don’t change though, with seedlings still hand planted to ensure they are given the best chance to survive.

Since 1988, Bill has worked as a planting supervisor, overseeing around three million seedlings hand-planted each year since in the Oberon and Bathurst areas. 

Those trees planted under Bill’s watch 33 years ago are reaching maturity now and being harvested for structural timber to build homes.