Lake Pieman site of Australian first underwater logging | video

TASMANIAN company SFM Hydrowood has embarked on an Australian first by logging trees submerged in Lake Pieman.

SFM Hydrowood developed the project with a $5 million funding grant from the federal government and officially launched operations at MONA on Friday.

Hydrowood Project at Lake Pieman. 
Andrew Morgan, Managing Director

Hydrowood Project at Lake Pieman. Andrew Morgan, Managing Director

Heavy forestry machinery, including a purpose-built 26 metre telescopic arm, will bring 1000 hectares of underwater forest to the surface.

Architects, furniture makers, designers and boat builders around the world will be able to use the range of premium and ultra premium wood extracted, including Blackhearted Sassafrass, Huon Pine and Myrtle.

The project began preliminary operations at the end of October, and has already led to Wynwood saw mill employing new staff to process the specialty timber.

Lake Pieman is the first place in Australia and one of a handful in the world where underwater logging is practised.

Braddon MP Brett Whiteley said on Tuesday the project was "the epitome of innovation".

"Marketing a product that wasn't even visible to the naked eye."

Hydrowood timber has already gained international interest from yacht makers in Monaco to furniture makers across Europe and America.

"Bringing this out of the wild West Coast is really appealing to designers and architects," SFM managing director Andrew Morgan said. 

"Its come from the west coast of Tasmania, from underwater." 

It is not just the story that makes Hydrowood so coveted, but also the qualities that rare timber gains from being submerged for so long.

Each piece of timber that comes from the lake has a distinct colour and marking that makes it ideal for furniture designers looking for unique material to make products.