Hometown record for Grafton’s 2.3 million seedlings
IN THIRTY years' time, when the latest modern architectural construction and building of government infrastructure is taking place around NSW, if there's quality timber required for the job, chances are it will have begun its life in Grafton.
This futuristic claim is down to what's happening now on the outskirts of our regional town as a record 2.3 million seedlings make their way out of the gates of Forestry Corporation's Grafton Production Nursery to replenish the region's timber plantations.
Nursery manager Kath French said the seedlings dispatched this year would regrow the timber plantations that had been harvested in the past year.
"Each of these 2.3 million seedlings was individually sown here at our Grafton Production Nursery back in September from a carefully selected seed, and we have spent the past six months carefully watering, weeding and fertilising this crop," Ms French said.
Throughout April, the 12-person team at Grafton Production Nursery has been sorting and grading the seedlings to ensure only the hardiest are sent out the gate to the region's plantations.
"Each of these seedlings will be planted by hand by a team of planters to regrow our timber plantations, with the 2.3 million seedlings from Grafton restocking more than 2000 hectares of hardwood and softwood plantations on the North Coast - an area almost twice the size of the town of Grafton," Ms French said.
"Once in the ground, these seedlings will be grown for around 35 years to supply renewable timber for the next generation's homes and infrastructure, so it's vital that we only send the seedlings with the best chance of survival."
She said the seedlings the nursery has grown are an even mix of pine and eucalyptus species, to restock both softwood and hardwood plantations throughout the region.
"The nursery also grows large numbers of seedlings for private customers with large orders but this recent seedling crop is the largest our Grafton team has managed to date.
Ms French said this was due to the impacts of drought and fire in 2018, which required the team to double production of southern pine.
"Following this summer's fires, we are preparing to double the nursery's output next year to replant affected plantations, allowing our production teams time to harvest affected timber and prepare the sites for planting in 2021 so we can replant and regrow all the burnt plantations with renewable timber," she said.
"Forestry is a long-term industry and every time we sow a seed here we are planning more than 30 years into the future for when that seed will become an essential timber product for the next generation."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the NSW Government remained committed to the future of forestry in the region.
"The team at Grafton Production Nursery has done a terrific job of growing more than two million seedlings which will assist in securing the future of the timber industry in NSW," Mr Gulaptis said.
"Timber grown right here in the Clarence electorate plays a vital role in supplying the materials used to build homes and infrastructure right across NSW and I am proud of the work we are doing locally to keep the industry alive."