Manx Wood in High Demand

The future of the island’s sawmill is looking bright after increased demand in recent years.

Clare Barber was asked for an update on DEFA’s plans for the sawmill, located in St John’s, by Ayre & Michael MHK Tim Johnston.

Mrs Barber said that up until 2020, the sawmill was seeing year on year growth, both in terms of performance and sales.

However, since the onset of the pandemic and the worldwide issues of accessing timber, Mrs Barber said it has seen an ‘unprecedented increase in local demand for home grown timber products’.

She added: ‘Existing timber stocks have been quickly depleted and orders for timber products have increased exponentially with a growing customer base. The ability to quickly react to this unprecedented demand has been challenging, especially working with some equipment that limits production rates, however, I must commend the whole team for their efforts in rising to the challenges.

‘This recent growth in sales inspires confidence into recognising the sawmill has a positive future, and the Department is extremely keen to ensure that we have a resilient and future sawmill asset which is fit for purpose, efficient and cost effective and able to meet the demands of all its customers.’

Future

Looking forwards, Mrs Barber said DEFA is assessing possible further investment to meet growing demands, which could include investment in ‘a multi-rip resaw and a chipper canter, which will see production rates increase’.

She added: ‘The importance of the island’s Sawmill should not be underestimated. It has an important role to play on many levels, not only providing essential, locally sourced and sustainable timber products, providing direct and indirect employment, as well as timber output as part of essential forest management which is processed through the sawmill. This latter role is vital to the maintenance of a visual and recreation amenity that is recognised by visitors as being the second largest draw for the Isle of Man, after the coast.’