A partnership between Minderoo Foundation, Lions Australia and Rotary Australia will help disaster hit communities rebuild fence lines and give local landowners the materials to rebuild their farms free of charge.
Minderoo Foundation is working with Lions Australia and Rotary Australia to mill fire-damaged trees from the East Gippsland area – an initiative that will reduce fire risk to local properties and provide raw construction materials for homeowners.
The East Gippsland area was devastated by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 with harrowing images of residents being evacuated from beaches in Mallacoota and the surrounds being beamed around the world. Over a million hectares were burnt with hundreds of houses destroyed and properties left without fencing, sheds and other basic needs.
As communities rebuild there has been a huge demand locally for both damaged tree removal and fence and shed reconstruction. Insurance has covered only some of the essential work, and many local landowners are unable to cover the out-of-pocket costs.
As part of the East Gippsland Milling Project, Lions Australia – with the support of Bairnsdale Rotary Club – has purchased a Lucas sawmill that will repurpose the burnt timber logs into a useable product. Minderoo Foundation has funded a portable milling machine to support this operation.
The mill will provide farmers and landowners with a ready to use supply of fence posts and planks taken from the damaged trees on their own properties. The psychological and physical impacts on communities cannot be overstated, communities are able to help their own residents to rebuild and, in the process, remove painful reminders of what has been lost.
The aim is for the portable milling machine to steadily move further afield within the region to service other fire-affected areas, strengthening inter-community relationships and thus building self-reliant, resilient communities.
The mill will provide a long-term asset for communities to utilise in the future should there be other disasters that require fencing and building materials.