THREE years on from the 2019-20 fires, the Grafton timber industry is looking to the future, with a 10-year supply of timber and wood products on offer for processors looking to set up in the region. 

Forestry Corporation of NSW Grafton district manager Trent Froud said while local softwood plantations were badly impacted by the fires, replanting was ahead of schedule, with a third of the region’s fire-affected plantations already replanted and rapidly regrowing and the remainder to be replanted within the next four years.  

“Since the fires, we’ve been harvesting at up to four times the normal rate to salvage timber from the dying trees, we’ve doubled the growing capacity at our Grafton nursery and we’ve put record numbers of seedlings in the ground,” Mr Froud said.

“Coupled with phenomenal growing conditions, our plantations are in great health, growing the house frames of the future.  

“Unfortunately, the mill at Rappville that previously processed local timber was lost in the fires, so we’re now looking for partners to turn these trees into the timber and wood products our communities need.

“From 2025, we’ll be ready to harvest 120,000 tonnes of timber a year from this region’s plantations and we’re reaching out to the industry for new proposals to process all grades of timber grown in the local area.  

“Plantations are a long-term industry and we’re looking for new partners to work with us here in Grafton for at least the next 10 years. We’re working hard to regrow and reinvigorate the timber processing industry here in Grafton, and this is an exciting milestone in our recovery.”

Mr Froud added: “Of course, timber is the ultimate renewable resource, and we replant every tree we harvest, so our region’s softwood plantations will continue producing the same amount of sustainable timber and wood products for the next 100 years and beyond.”