A contract yet to be confirmed by the NSW Forestry Corporation could spell the end of a 70-year-old Eden timber company.
Forestry Corp recently ran an expression of interest process for a new contract for saw log timber, to be harvested from the Eden Management Area.
It was recently announced that a proposed new timber and optimisation hub for Eden was the preferred proponent for the long-term contract and Forestry is now negotiating with Australian-owned company Allied Natural Wood Exports (ANWE) on the contract.
ANWE general manager Kel Henry said the proposed hub would be a positive step forward for Eden.
“Facilities at the proposed hub would enable bigger and better timber operation, it would mean significant increase in jobs for Eden, not just for production workers but for other trades involved,” Mr Henry said.
“The new hub will include a separate log optimising facility. We will be able to get more value out of the logs coming in as well as create an increase in quality lumber.”
However, Blue Ridge Hardwoods managing director Allan Richards, who also lodged an expression of interest, was very disappointed with the result.
“We believed we knew what it would take to process the new resource. We were surprised we were not chosen, especially with the success we have had over the last 20 years with the Hyland species, a species that no-one previously wanted.”
The family company has been operating since 1948 and currently has around 50 employees.
“The result could more than likely bring about the closure of the saw mill and might not be the best thing for Eden,” Mr Richards said.
“The outcome has the potential to destabilise the timber industry in the South East.”
A Forestry Corp spokesperson said they understand the NSW government is looking at the changing situation in Eden and considering how it can assist during the transitional period to minimise any impact on the broader community.
In that vein, Member for Bega Andrew Constance recently announced a $12.4million investment for the Eden timber industry.
It’s understood $10million would be used as an income support package (if required) for Blue Ridge Hardwoods in case of job losses. The remaining $2.4m would be allocated to operations of the mill over the following 12 months.
“People in Eden work hard, the government will deliver for them and provide surety and confidence to all involved. We are hopeful with the investments and the wood supply agreement we will not see job losses,” Mr Constance said.