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Queenslanders win National Tree Farmer of the Year award

Kingaroy farmers John and Jane McLaughlin have won the prestigious AFG Prime Super National Tree Farmer of the Year award for 2008.

The McLaughlins, who were the 2008 AFG Queensland Tree Farmers of the Year, run a 5156 hectare property ‘Mounefontein’ 45km west of Kingaroy as a profitable and sustainable ‘tree farming and grazing enterprise.’

The biennial award, now in its 20th year, was announced at the Australian Forest Growers national conference dinner in Albury. More than 260 national and international delegates attended the conference.

‘Mounefontein’, which has been in the McLaughlin family for over 100 years, is now regarded as one of the best examples of a truly integrated native forestry and grazing enterprise in northern Australia. It has substantial natural stands of Spotted Gum, Ironbarks and Queensland blue gum/Forest red gum which have been harvested periodically over the last 70 years. The most recent sale of timber in 2006 produced 700 cubic metres of timber.

The current harvest philosophy is that areas to be harvested are given priority depending on the age and size of the stems plus the need to have some timber removed from the forest to encourage future growth.

The McLaughlins’ interest in the potential of their native forest has increased over the last 20 years. They have been keen participants at various workshops and field days and have had a Forest Management Plan (as part of a Property Management Plan) in place since the 1990s. The plan which was revised in 2006 splits their property up into four different types of country with appropriate management regimes.

National convenor of Tree Farmer of the Year Awards – Vanessa Ranken, said the McLaughlins won the award for “their outstanding initiative in integrating forestry with agriculture, and being leaders in their field.”

“What they have done is a great achievement and they are very willing to share the knowledge they have gained from experience with others,” said Ranken.