BRIAN Deam was a popular winner of the Eastland Wood Council (EWC) Skilled Professional of the Year title at the 2017 awards held last night.
Nearly 500 people packed the Showgrounds Event Centre to applaud his effort, and others honoured for their work in the local forestry industry.
It is the eighth year the Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards have been run and again they attracted some “stellar entries”, said EWC chief executive Prue Younger, who paid tribute to the thousands involved in an industry that meant much to the wider region.
“These awards are a chance to celebrate the efforts of those out there doing it, but are also an important part of the promotion of the industry and recognition of the continual upskilling of our workforce,” she said.
Ms Younger said huge inroads had been made across the industry, but there was still plenty to work on.
Chief judge Julian Kohn said that while the region faced challenges around infrastructure, the industry was in very good health from a commercial point of view.
“We are moving into a very strong growth phase from a harvesting perspective,” Mr Kohn said.
“A lot of the plantings from the early to late 1990s are now coming up to a harvestable age, and when you look at that in conjunction with strong development in the Chinese market, and to a lesser extent, the Indian and domestic onshore markets, it augurs well for the future.”
Mr Kohn said the stars had lined up for supply and demand.
“We face issues around infrastructure and specifically skilled labour for local roading. There is a serious constraint on the size of the port and capacity, which means the costs are particularly high. However, the industry is working hard alongside the port, as it has done for some years, to improve efficiency there.”
Those numbers had improved dramatically over the past six years. But Mr Kohn said there was still a long way to go until it became as cost-effective…