Modern timber career arises from local family heritage
Profile on Matthew Randall - a TCA Young Community Ambassador
NOT UNLIKE his four year-old son’s appreciation of the adventures of Peter Rabbit, Matthew Randall spends a lot of his time trying to outwit rabbits keen on tasty seedlings amidst the 14,000 hectares of timber plantations managed around Albany, Mt Barker and Rocky Gully, Western Australia, in his work with PF Olsen.
Matthew is passionate about forestry in Australia and set out to impart some of his knowledge and skills onto the next generation through school visits as part of the TCA Young Community Ambassador program.
Among his activities in the TCA Initiative was hosting a group of students from the Australian Christian College on an excursion around planting and harvesting sites near Albany last year.
Matthew began with the forestry industry as a truck driver straight out of school— with experience gained from his family’s freight business.
Most of his peers headed for the city to attend University or found a trade. The lure of the mining industry was still strong then, towards the end of the boom in Western Australia, and Matthew initially thought that’s where he would head.
Fortuitously, a friend invited Matthew to visit a local forestry site. This experience inspired 18-yearold Matthew when he saw the sophisticated machinery used in forestry, which looked similar to a computer game console.
He was given the opportunity to join Timbercorp as an infield truck driver and had his first experience of driving a harvester during two years with the company. This was complemented by another operational role with Albany Timber Services (Bluewood Industries) for four years. He spent time working with blue gum plantations driving an array of machinery used in harvesting including forwarders, log loaders, skidders, feller bunchers, chippers and flails, building up his skills.
Matthew completed studies in training and assessment and occupational health and safety to develop managerial skills to enhance his opportunities.
He stepped into his current role as a forester with P F Olsen in 2014 and now manages part of the West Australian estate that encompasses about 60 plantations in the interesting timber communities around Albany, Mt Barker and Rocky Gully.
His role involves silviculture operations, harvest management and auditing of health and safety programs.
His forebears have a deep historical connection to southern Western Australia and generations on Matthew is also right at home raising his family there. His interest in and enthusiasm about tree growing and timber production is obvious. He has no doubt that timber is an environmentally friendly and much needed fibre for the world.
It bothers him that our forestry industry faces extra challenges through ‘misinformation’ fed to the public about today’s forestry practices.
“We plainly need more wood and trees coming through to supply the Australian community’s growing need for timber products. It seems we are just importing more and more from other countries.
“The biggest battle is changing people’s perception of the industry.”
Author: Amanda Fisher … Tales to connect communities