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Victorian forestry industry awards for excellence

VAFI CEO Tim Johnston and Emma Gall.

A young female forester, Emma Gall from HVP Plantations, was one of four winners at this year’s Victorian forestry industry awards, which covered individual excellence, sustainability and contributions to the economy and community. Source: Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz

The awards were presented last week in Melbourne at the annual dinner of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries.

Ms Gall took out VAFI’s Special Recognition Award for Individual Excellence.

Other winners were the Sustainability Award, Stafford Logging; the Community Award, Pyrenees Timber; and the Economy Award, Australian Bluegum Plantations.

VAFI chief executive, Tim Johnston, said the work each year by those in the industry was second to none.

“I am always amazed by the high calibre of entries we get for the awards,” he said.

Mr Johnston said Ms Gall was nominated for her brilliant planning for a recent harvest in difficult blocks.

“Her diligence and tenacity resulted in the harvesting occurring in very difficult terrain,” he said, which included extremely erodible sand and waterways leading to a creek used for local drinking water.

“She worked with the right people to highlight the sensitivity of the environment and coupes” ensuring that post-harvest rehabilitation went well.

The silviculture team thus understood the potential risk associated with soil disturbance and were able to put in place a more comprehensive plan to mitigate for soil movement and any adverse environmental impacts.

Mr Johnston said Ms Gall brought people together, working with the community and local harvesters.

“She is not afraid to keep people accountable,” he said.

The other contestants for the Individual Excellence Award were David Bennett from PF Olsen, Gary Gray from Arbuthnot Sawmills and Jack Barnes, also from HVP Plantations.

Mr Johnston said Stafford Logging was aware of industry’s responsibility for its footprint in the forest – “the way we harvest, as well as log grading and product recovery”.

Chris Stafford and his team had ensured sustainability in the following ways:

  • In the 2017-18 harvesting season, the team harvested all coupes to the net harvestable area or “marked coupe boundary” often in difficult terrain, such as steep slopes.
  • Achieved a hardwood log grading average for the past season of 96%.
  • Maximised grade recovery and delivered the product on time.


Chris Stafford, award sponsor Darren Sheldon and Tim Johnston

The Sustainability Award was sponsored by Australian Bluegum Plantations.

Mr Johnston said Pyrenees Timber had won the Community Award, which is sponsored by VicForests, mainly because of the active work of Ian Crick regarding the VEC Central West investigation.

Tim Johnston, Ian Crick and VicForests’ Nathan Trushell.

“Not only does the mill produce high quality flooring from local native timber, but for the last three and a half years, Ripon Peace Memorial Hospital has been heated solely from woodchip waste supplied from the mill,” he said.

“Ian has been vocal and outspoken throughout the VEAC process, from writing a submission, attending local meetings and briefings, to organising field trips and talking to local media.”

Mr Johnston said with VAFI and others, Mr Crick had worked tirelessly to ensure that the voice of industry was heard.

“He is also a key organiser of the Friends of Mount Cole, a residents group dedicated to maintaining multiple-use forests, including sustainable commercial harvesting, in the Mount Cole area,” he said.

Mr Johnston said Australian Blue Gum Plantations had won the Economy award for its Softwood Relocation Project.

This project included relocation of receivals and storage of woodchips as part of the expansion project, and adding a second ship loader and truck unloader.

“This has enabled increased productivity by improved loading times to assist with port congestion and better turnaround times for deliveries,” he said.

Mr Johnston said ABP had used a high percentage of local contractors for the project. This initiative, completed by July and officially opened this month, aligned with VAFI’s goal of expanding Victorian forestry, he said.

Photos courtesy Capture Photography.