100 million trees and counting – Bill Klower reflects on a forestry career.
With Forestry Corporation gearing up to replant nearly 3,000 hectares of Bathurst State forests this year, Silviculture Supervisor Bill Klower is looking forward to seeing the start of another forestry cycle.
Bill started work in the forestry industry in 1963 in Oberon; a decision that led to him to enjoy nearly six decades working in the forestry industry and overseeing around 100 million seedlings planted in the Bathurst region in the past 30 years.
Over this time he has seen three seedlingto- sawlog rotations, delivering timber essential to building Australia’s homes and houses.
He started as a chainman working for a surveyor on 18 February 1963, at a time when a lot of work was needed to locate forest boundaries.
“The State forests had no boundary fences back in the day, so there was a lot work to be done to establish where forests actually started and finished,” Mr Klower said.
“I was 16 years old at the time and had just left school, so the surveying work was a good opportunity.
“We’d leave home on Monday mornings and stay at one of the forest camps for the week. Some of the single workers lived there permanently, but most of us would head home again for the weekend.
“At the start of the workday, we’d be bundled into the back of a truck and driven to the worksite. There weren’t many vehicles around at the time, so the truck would leave and come back at the end of the day to pick us up.”
Over nearly six decades, Bill has seen great change in the industry.
“The biggest change is safety; there was virtually no attention to safety when I started, and now it is the key principle of what we do.
“There is also a bit more paperwork,” Bill jokes.
“There was only one form when I started – the sick form.”
Some things don’t change though, with seedlings still hand planted to ensure they are given the best chance to survive.Since 1988 Bill has worked as a planting supervisor, overseeing around three million seedlings hand-planted each year since in the Oberon and Bathurst areas.
Those trees planted under Bill’s watch 33 years ago are reaching maturity now and being harvested for structural timber to build homes.
“Of course these plantations will be planted with seedlings again to grow timber for the future,” said Bill.
Find out more about Forestry Corporation’s seedling program at www.forestrycorporation.com.au