Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Birregurra sawmill closes

The assumption that ending native forest logging would devastate regional towns is not based on practical experience. After the West Regional Forest Agreement was signed in March 2000, logging in the Otways was reduced by 33%. This resulted in the immediate closure of the only sawmill in the small town of Birregurra with no adverse long term economic impact on that community.

The following press statements make the point.

"Birre on the up and up"
The Echo Wed 2nd August 2000

"IT takes more than a few knocks to flatten the fighting spirit of Birregurra.
Reports one of the town's oldest industries could fold has not devastated the small rural community.
The town, with a population of 450, in instead investigating new industries to take its place and solidify its future.
The Bennett sawmill, which has carried on the age-old tradition of Birregurra as a timber town, plans to close within 12 months.
The closure of the mill, build in the 1970's after the town became the hub of Otway logging operations, has instead fired residents to change the towns future direction……."

"Birregurra sawmill expected to close"
Geelong Advertiser (26 July 2000) Page 8.
By Garry Cotton

"Mr Bennett said the mill closure, expected later this year had followed a three-year period during which the logging industry had been in limbo pending changes to logging access in the Otways.
He said foremost was the need to look after the welfare of employees, but he also wanted to ensure the mill was not vacated to become an eyesore.

In a pro-active move, the community group Birregurra Action is already assessing what new industry uses the sawmill buildings could be used for.

Action president Julie Stark said the community did not see the mill closure as a disaster, but rather an inevitable process that would open up new directions for Birregurra.
She said the community was optimistic that a new venture would arise from the mill closure and the town would move on"

  Profile of Otways Native Forest logging industry

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