Environment

Post-bushfire plantation recovery fast-tracked

Katrina Condie18 September 2020
Forestry Corporation of NSW workers planting seedlings.

Replanting will soon be underway in forest plantations at Bombala. Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Replanting of the state’s softwood timber plantations that were destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires will be fast-tracked as part of a $46 million injection into the NSW forestry industry.

Around 35,000 hectares of state-owned plantations, and 10,000 hectares of private plantations, were lost in the South West Slopes region during the past summer’s bushfires. Significant damage was also caused to plantations around Bombala and the Northern Rivers region.

The NSW Government is planning to accelerate its winter planting program to an unprecedented 12,500 hectares of forest to be replanted, by hand, every year for the next eight years.

Around 31 per cent of Bombala’s 33,000 hectares of pine forest was impacted by the bushfires and Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Snowy regional manager, Dean Anderson, said he is pleased the replanting will soon be underway.

“It’s exciting to be moving forward after the 2019-2020 bushfires, and replanting the state forest plantation estate,” he said. “This expanded replanting program will have many benefits to our local communities during the coming years.

“It’s great to see we can be replanting earlier than we thought, and working with contractors and businesses to rebuild our plantation estate.”

Worker planting seedling by hand.

Seedlings will be planted by hand during the next eight years after softwood plantations were destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires. Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW.

The Australian Forest Products Association’s chief executive officer, Ross Hampton, said he is delighted that Forestry Corporation of NSW is expanding its nurseries to meet increased capacity for seedlings.

“The accelerated planting program will start next winter when the seedlings being propagated now will be ready,” he said.

Mr Hampton added that while the NSW Government is to be congratulated, there is “still much to be done in the months and years ahead to ensure the towns and villages dependent on forestry remain economically vibrant regional communities”.

Softwoods Working Group chairman Peter Crowe said private plantations had also committed to significantly increasing their replanting during the next two years.

“These softwood plantations will be able to produce usable timber earlier in fire-affected areas and replace the timber being harvested for processing,” he said. “Both measures will aide in the industry’s long-term recovery.”

Workers in Forestry Corporation of NSW outdoor nursery.

Forestry Corporation of NSW is expanding its nurseries to meet the increased capacity for seedlings. Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW.

NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade, and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the program would inject new life into the burnt-out forests.

“This investment will see us get back to pre-bushfire levels of stocked trees in state-owned pine plantations within a decade,” he said.

“We are also carrying out a significant salvage effort to maintain supply of timber, creating local jobs and material for house frames, furniture and other essential renewable wood products.”

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