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Wotif saves the trees via acquisition

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One of Australia’s wealthiest dotcom entrepreneurs Graeme Wood has put some of his hard-earned into preserving native Tasmanian forest.

In a bold environmental move, Wood has joined with Jan Cameron (founder of retail clothing outlet Kathmandu) to buy the struggling Gunns Triabunna native forest woodchip export mill in Tasmania for $AU10 million.

Retaining a pro-conservation stance the new owners of the mill claim that they will create new jobs via eco tourism and protect native forests.

Wood, who has an estimated private fortune of around $AU300 million founded ASX listed online travel site Wotif.com ten years ago and has subsequently invested in a series of ventures including wotflight.com and news aggregation site wotnews.com.

Wood also has a strong philanthropic streak, setting up side ventures like Wild Mob, a project that allows volunteers to work on environmental projects around Australia. “I’ve always felt strongly about looking after the environment,” Wood has said.

While the new owners and their intentions have caused a stir in the logging industry, the mill will have a transition period of shutting down over three years.

The terms of sale require the new owners to lease the mill as an export woodchip business consistent with a recent agreement between conservationists and timber groups.

In the longer term it is understood they are looking at leveraging the mill’s site which has deep harbour access for new ventures in tourism and agriculture. ®

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