Whether you think it’s due to the environmental movement, operational costs or an international market most people these days are aware that the forestry industry has undergone a downturn over the last couple of years. Interestingly though, that’s not actually true of the entire industry.
Although hardwood timbers are becoming more and more difficult to sell, the softwood timber industries such as treated pine and softwood timber framing have caused the mill in Bombala to boom, attracting international backers. A Korean company bought the locally owned mill in Bombala and with a massive injection of funds they have installed a computerized mill that will cut as much timber in one six hour shift as the manual team could do in a week.
In Eden the hardwood chip mill went through this kind of boom in about 2008 and is now owned by Japanese backers. Peter Mitchell, the general manager of South East Fiber Exports, now tells me that he is not in a position to tell the community how long their operation will last in its current form. This year they look set to export almost half of the 1.1 million tonnes they shipped in 2008. So, how successful are these multinational organizations? In small regional communities like Eden or Bombala they offer a great boost to a regional economy but what does it mean if the community looses control of their local employer? We also have to ask ourselves the question how far would these local businesses have gone without the international support and how does a regional center balance out all these concerns.
Although the hardworking communities of Eden and Bombala stay standing at this point, it’s the hard working Victorians who will be affected by this reduction. If, however, the reduction does affect the Eden based mill. As the communities major employer the outcome will be concerning to say the least.
As Peter Mitchell said
‘I’ve lived in this community for 30 years and had to be neighbors with people I’ve made redundant’
in a tight knit community any troubles with the major employer have an effect on the whole town.