Designed to realise the economic value of Tasmania’s southern certified plantation forests and stimulate growth in the State’s economy, Southwood Fibre has announced a much needed $42 million investment into wood fibre processing in the south of the State.

The proposal is expected to generate 135 jobs during construction and support a further 145 jobs on an ongoing basis, with some $55 million of additional annual economic activity each year once complete.

Currently, export bulk wood products from the south of Tasmania sees material freighted to the state’s northern export facility at Bell Bay, where the product is processed and then shipped to export markets.  In the past, this has required expensive Government subsidies and lengthy transport on public highways.

Southwood Fibre will process certified plantation forests at the existing Southwood integrated timber processing facility for transport to a purpose built single use loading facility at Strathblane, where it will be packed into vessels for direct export.

Chief Executive Officer of Southwood Fibre, James Neville-Smith said the project was plantation based and only product that is certified to the Australian Forestry Standard and/or the Forest Stewardship Council requirements will be exported.

“We openly acknowledge current community standards and expectations for the management of the State’s forests and as a result are only interested in certified product. Our project is aimed at revitalising the plantation forestry sector in Southern Tasmania,” Mr Neville Smith said.

Mr Neville-Smith said the proposal avoids the transportation of woodchips on major public roads or past residential property, thus reducing much concern regarding the transport of wood products on public highways.

“Once approved, this development will have a substantial positive impact on the economy of southern Tasmania, by utilising the many thousands of tonnes of plantation forests,” Mr Neville-Smith said.

“These forests were planted under the now failed managed investment schemes, and have not been financially viable to harvest since the closure of the export facility at Triabunna due to high transportation costs.”

Mr Neville-Smith said a KPMG report has estimated that during construction some 135 jobs will be created.

“The report found some $55 million will be generated once the facility is up and running, providing a major direct financial injection into a region where many forestry related jobs have been lost,” he said.

“Once operating 145 jobs are anticipated to be supported as well as considerable other economic impacts as a flow-on effect from extra economic activity in the region.

“The development is currently being funded and developed by Southwood Fibre which is a respected forest production company with no government financial assistance.

Southwood Fibre is managed by the Neville-Smith Group which has a long and successful track record working in the Tasmanian forest industry.