Forestry centre a $3m investment in the Valley
By EMMA CORNFORD
AFTER 18 months of planning and preparation, it was a shiny shovel which marked the official opening of the new Forest Technology Centre in Grafton yesterday.
A 60-strong crowd, some wearing the green Forests NSW caps they received to celebrate the event, watched as Department of Primary Industries director general Barry Buffier planted a tree.
Five hundred hectares of the site, which forms part of the former Agricultural Research and Advisory Station at Trenayr, now called the DPI Grafton Centre of Excellence, will be used to further research into hardwood timber, and sell seeds and seedlings.
Forests NSW manager of tree improvement Michael Henson said it was exciting to see the centre officially open.
"I think what's going on will give the centre a lot of prestige plus we'll be able to see the results of work ... which will attract potential investors," Mr Henson said.
"It's also exciting that we'll be able to work a lot more closely with the timber industry. I'm really happy this is in Grafton because of the history of the timber industry here."
Mr Buffier said the centre represented a massive investment in the area.
"Clearly forestry is very important in this area so we're prepared to put in a $2-3million investment.
"This is a very significant investment in forestry research and allows us to create a critical mass of research in the one area which was our aim."
Mr Henson said three researchers and three nursery workers will be employed at the centre full-time, as well as two casual researchers.
Around 30 Forestry workers will also be relocated from Grafton to new offices at the Trenayr centre.
"We're going to build a clonal propagation facility up here which will be a state of the art facility and the only nursery of its kind in Australia," he said.
"We'll be able to collect from before seed to the finished product all in the one area of the centre of excellence. It means we'll be coming together and producing a better future for everyone here."