Bushfire timber to be recycled and rebuilt

  Bushfire timber to be recycled and rebuilt

28 March 2009

published by www.standard.net.au

Australia — A south-west timber mill will devote its entire resources to helping salvage burnt logs in the state’s east.

Thousands of hectares of prime softwood plantations were charred during the horrendous Black Saturday inferno.

But all is not lost. Colac-based timber mill AKD Softwoods plans to mill 60,000 to 80,000 cubic metres of the burnt logs in coming months.

“It’s pretty much all hands on deck,” AKD resource manager Neil Harris said.

“Some of the wood is salvageable. Three years ago we milled 30,000 cubic metres from the Scarsdale fires, so it can be done.”

Mr Harris said the logs were sellable, with many just being burnt on the outside.

He said the timber would be sold for normal structural use. But AKD only has a three to four-month window to mill the logs.

“The bark protects the inside of the logs from being burnt. But what can happen is a blue stain develops if they are not milled within a certain time.

“It’s caused by a fungus and doesn’t affect the quality of the timber, it just makes it difficult to gain acceptance into the market because of the way it looks.”

AKD is not the only company offering to mill burnt logs, two Gippsland mills are also processing the charred timber.

Mr Harris said the wood came from one of AKD’s major suppliers, HVP Plantations.

He said while some of the logs were salvageable the intense heat of the inferno combined with strong winds destroyed many plantation trees.

“The extent of the damage is not known yet and we don’t really know how we can recover from this.

“These trees were meant to be harvested over the next five to 10 years – it will take us 30 years to get back to where we were.

“There are some 35-year-old trees which have just been blown apart.”

Mr Harris said AKD would source all its logs from the state’s east for up to the next four months, after which it would again source from plantations in the Otways and near Ballarat.

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