9 December 2022

Flood-impacted timber gets new lease on life in Tumba

| Edwina Mason
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Flood-impacted timber which was about to be scrapped has been put to use at two of Tumbarumba’s schools. Photo: Forestry NSW.

Tumbarumba’s Carcoola Children’s Centre and Tumbarumba Public School have benefited from a five-year-old program that has seen flood-affected timber repurposed for public use.

In 2017, Cyclone Debbie tore through the Northern Rivers region of NSW, flooding the Boral processing plant in Murwillumbah.

About $10 million worth of flooring, cladding and decking products were affected by moisture, determined usable but unfit for sale.

Long-time Tumba resident Billie-Jo Brown works for Forestry Corporation and she said when they discovered this large volume of timber was potentially being written off – in some cases for damage as minor as water staining – there was a push to salvage it for local community projects.

READ ALSO Snowy Valleys timber industry to benefit from fee-free training

Boral Timber donated around 1000 cubic metres of flooring and decking products, assisting Forestry Corporation of NSW and Planet Ark’s Make It Wood* campaign to establish the Community Timber Partnerships Program.

The philosophy of the program is to deliver projects that provide a public benefit and has since sprouted hundreds of community projects and developments across the state.

The salvaged timber is Australian hardwood sourced from sustainably managed forests.

In contrast to other major building materials, says Billie, wood can help tackle climate change because wood stores carbon for life and is a renewable source of energy.

Billie-Jo Brown believes her old school – Tumbarumba Public – hasn’t had new timber benches since she was a student in the 90s. Photo: Forestry Corporation.

“We’re working with a range of community groups to give the timber a new lease of life and create renewable, durable, beautiful timber facilities for many more local communities to enjoy,” Ms Brown said.

And the scheme has come full circle now with a partnership between Forestry Corporation of NSW, Pentarch Forestry and the Tumbarumba community seeing donated timber enhance facilities at both schools.

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“It’s great to see the Tumbarumba Carcoola Children’s Centre use this timber to create screens to beautify their playgrounds, provide shade and privacy, and give a talking point for kids and families,” Ms Brown said.

“Likewise Tumbarumba Primary School has used the donated timber to rebuild a number of old playground benches.

“Some of them may well have been around when I was a student there in the early 90s!” she said.

Teachers say the youngsters at Carcoola and older students are thrilled with the new installation – which has seen a return to the playground of a swathe of buckets and spades and provided a whole new dimension to student recreation time.

*Planet Ark’s Make It Wood program aims to encourage the increased use of  responsibly sourced wood as a building material and a main choice for furniture, toys, and other household items.

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