Friday Offcuts 3 September 2021
Down South, Danone Nutricia NZ is well advanced in installing their new NZ $30 million wood fuel boiler converting their plant from gas. The Finnish-made boiler is the only one of its type in New Zealand and when it’s fired up, it’s going to be the largest NZ dairy plant running solely on biomass. For the forest industry in the lower South Island, for the Fonterra and Danone operations alone, over 55,000 tonnes of sustainable wood fuel per year will need to be supplied. Add to this, there are some other fairly significant conversions already being planned across the lower South Island. So very quickly, options for harvesting, handling, transporting and the organised delivery of wood residues from commercial forest operations means that forest companies are now seriously exploring future options for supply. Similar moves are now afoot also in other regions across the country.
And as the world “pivots” to try adjust to the various stages of Government enforced country, state and territory lockdowns on both sides of the Tasman, organisers of major forest industry meetings, conferences and trade shows are all working frantically behind the scenes to reschedule and to adjust to the current environment. Unfortunately, as reported last week, the major AUSTimber 2020/2021 forestry event that had already been rescheduled, two times in just over two years following the summer bushfires and earlier COVID related lockdowns in 2020, has been a permanent casualty.
Closer to home, the annual mass-timber construction event, WoodWorks 2021 has been rescheduled to run on 2-3 November in Rotorua (see further details in the attached stories this week). Staying with wood design, the Timber Design Society Roadshow 2021 due to start on Wednesday of this week, lockdown has meant that this has been revamped to a fully on-line format being run on 7-9 September.
Further afield, 2 NZ Wood Council Forestry Awards have been postponed, the Canterbury West Coast Awards now to Friday 19 November and the Northland Awards, now to Friday 3 December. See further information and links for more information below. And that’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Contracting industry becoming 'cut throat'NZ contractors are losing out on work as forest owners cancel pending contracts to hold out for log prices to rise. After hitting a peak four months ago, New Zealand log prices fell due to worldwide containership congestion at ports, high fuel and shipping prices and a downturn in demand from China as it deals with its own Covid-19 delta outbreak.
Otautau-based Baird Logging owner Bobby Baird said these factors were causing forest owners to cancel pending contracts as they hold out for another rise in prices. Because of this, logging contractors were losing out on work they might have planned on in advance, he said.
“I see where they’re [forestry owners] coming from, but we just can’t operate like that when we’ve got millions of dollars tied up in equipment. We’ve based that on that gear to be operating on a yearly cycle, all year round, we can’t be seasonable,” he said.
As a result, competition within the industry was becoming cut-throat, driving some contractors to make inaccurate quotes to retain contracts, he said. “As soon as you tell someone how much it is, that’s all they hear. The reality of it is there’s got to be more accuracy in pricing to keep it all above board, so we can keep this industry going down here.”
He’d had to cut a dollar off his logging rates per tonne in order to be able to stay competitive in the market. “When you’re processing 1800 tonne jobs, that’s quite significant,” he said.
And with Covid-19 putting the forestry industry on pause for two weeks, he was concerned about being able to make the money needed to cover equipment costs and his own income if more backlog occurred. “The government helps with the wage subsidy, so I’ve paid my men through.
But I want to generate some income, obviously with the downturn leading into it and now Covid-19, I want to try and get some wood out the gate to make up for it.” There needed to be more government support for contractors to be able to ride out the highs and lows of log prices, he said.
Forestry Industry Contractors Association chief executive Prue Younger said contractors were loaded up at the risk end when it came to log price drops. “They’ve got the investment in the very expensive equipment, they’ve got the risk in the continuation of their contract, they’ve got the risk of retaining their workforce. It seems a little bottom heavy on the risk monitor meter,” she said.
An increase in recent years in the amount of trees owned by smaller woodlot owners as opposed to corporate forestry owners was exacerbating the issue, she said. Smaller woodlot owners wanted the best price for their investment, and were often unaware of the flow on effect to the supply-chain of cancelling pending contracts to wait for those higher prices, she said.
As a result, the association was calling for a national forestry strategy to be adopted and better education to be provided to woodlot owners on market strategy, she said. “You keep getting those cyclical bubbles happening, and you’ll lose contractors, because there’s no money to be made in the industry when it's turned off and on like that.”
Commitment to drive Billion Trees PlanAustralia’s forest industries welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to drive progress on the Billion Trees Plan through concerted collaboration with state and territory jurisdictions, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton said.
In an address to AFPA’s National Forest Industries Symposium, Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry, Senator Jonno Duniam, outlined his commitment to work more closely with state and territory governments to deliver the Commonwealth’s 2030 goal to grow Australia’s timber plantation estate by one billion trees.
“I intend to convene a meeting with my state and territory counterparts to get sign up to this goal, to find out exactly what it is, they are intending to do to achieve this goal…We’ve got nine years to achieve it, we will achieve it, I’m committed to that.”
“We welcome Assistant Minister Duniam’s efforts to drive greater collaboration with the states and territories to achieve the Billion Trees Plan that was launched in 2018,” Mr Hampton said.
WoodWorks 2021 – new dates!This week, because of the current issues and uncertainty still surrounding the lockdown in New Zealand, the decision was made with the event presenters, exhibitors and delegates, to reschedule the 6th annual WoodWorks 2021 Conference & Exhibitions to run now on Wednesday 3 November 2021. Same venue, same plans and same programme – just six weeks from when it was originally scheduled to run.
The event as covered brings together leaders in engineered wood design and construction, timber producers, architects, project managers, designers, fit-out specialists, quantity surveyors, BIM specialists and engineers from throughout New Zealand. It’s grown strongly this year with registrations up 50 percent. The date change is to allow as many people as possible to have an in-person experience.
This year the event also includes a BRANZ pre-conference workshop and a CLT plant tour to Red Stag’s Waipa site at Whakarewarewa Forest on Tuesday, 2 November. To register or see more details go to the: event website
Woman in Forest Industries Excellence Award winner announcedAustralia’s forest industries congratulate Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s (STT) Suzette Weeding on winning the Midway Woman in Forest Industries Award of Excellence, at the National Forest Industry Awards – organised by the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA).
Suzette has been a long-valued member of Australia’s forest industries, from her beginnings in forest practices and environmental management and having progressed into an established and inspiring executive. As General Manager for Conservation and Land Management with STT, Suzette works alongside her team to navigate complex issues which often require significant public attention and scrutiny.
Recently, Suzette was appointed as Chair of the Gottstein Trust, a national educational trust for the forest and forest wood products sector. Suzette is a director of the International Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), a leading alliance of national forest certification systems which includes Responsible Wood in Australia. She has developed a reputation for solid, thoughtful, and soundly based contributions to the workings of the Board and the success of PEFC and is highly valued by her co-directors.
Suzette also sat on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) working group developing the Australian FSC standard and is a steering committee member of the Launceston National Institute of Forest Products Innovation and her extensive involvement with industry groups includes membership of the Tasmanian State Fire Management Council and the Forest Practices Advisory Council.
AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said, “On behalf of Australia’s forest industries I warmly congratulate Suzette in receiving this terrific award. She was selected from an amazing group of applicants, all of whom would have been deserving winners. It just shows how lucky we are to have so many fantastic women working across Australia’s forest industries. Congratulations Suzette!”
Integrated forestry business Midway has sponsored the award and CEO Tony Price said it was terrific to have such as strong field of women nominate for the prize. “We know forest industries have come a long way championing our women and I’m thrilled we had a such a strong field of contenders. Congratulations to Suzette and all of the applicants who are doing our industries proud in their diverse range of roles.”
The National Forest Industry Awards are organised by AFPA.
Minimising spray drift in forestry operationsAs outlined in a recent issue, this year’s ForestTECH 2021 programme being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 23-24 November will be built around two main themes. The first is remote sensing, data capture, GIS, mapping and forest inventory technologies and the second, forest establishment, mechanised planting and silviculture.
Much of the planting focus this year will be on the very latest results from operational trials and commercial planting using mechanised planting heads that will be occurring this year with pine in the central North Island (3 years now) and an expansion of Australia’s first trials last year of mechanised planting with pine and eucalypts in NSW.
In addition to planting systems, satellite imagery being used operationally by local forestry companies to quantify post planting survival rates and weed infestation will be covered as well as the application of chemical sprays, particularly in those environmentally sensitive areas where protection from spray drift in forestry operations is required or where no spray or spray drift can be tolerated.
Results from spray modelling that Scion has recently undertaken for PF Olsen will be presented at ForestTECH 2021. The modelling was designed to show just
Unsurprisingly, smaller nozzles were found to produce smaller droplets which can travel further. The surprise was in how much further, with buffers of 300 metres plus being suggested in some cases for the ultra-fine nozzles compared to the ultra-coarse nozzles which may only need 5 metre buffers.
In spray sensitive areas which increasingly are being encountered by forestry operations, other options open to forestry or tree crop managers include precise spot spraying using a drone. There’s obviously a reduced risk of spray drift due to the reduced release height from the craft. Previous ForestTECH events have showcased several platforms with larger heavy lift drones such as the DJI agricultural drones (AGRAS T16 – 16l spray tank and AGRAS T20 – 20l tank) and the Yamaha RMAX machine, also kitted out with a 16l spray tank.
One company in New Zealand that’s been spraying operationally for the last couple of years with two commercial drones, both in ag and forestry situations, will present as part of ForestTECH 2021. They’ll be outlining results from trials and operations and detail opportunities for spraying both native and softwood species using drones in those hard to reach, sensitive areas where minimal spray drift is required.
Full details on the programme for both days can be viewed on the event website, www.foresttech.events/ft21
Another major NZ industrial plant switches to biomassNelson-based company biomass fuel company Azwood Energy is building a production facility near Milton to service a burgeoning biomass fuel industry. Azwood Energy general manager Brook Brewerton confirmed that one of its clients will be Danone Nutricia New Zealand, near Clydevale, which is building a biomass boiler.
Progress on the new plant was fairly advanced, he said. A Danone spokesman said the plant would need 35,000 tonnes of sustainable wood fuel per year; that is four to five 30-tonne truck-and-trailer units per day to make its infant milk formula.
The new boiler, expected to release its first head of steam in the next few months, would run on hog fuel, a type of biomass fuel made from chopped-up, unprocessed waste debris, bark and organic matter, which came from commercial forestry. Brewerton said Azwood would also be distributing a range of wood fuels to its other Otago clients and would employ about five full-time staff at the new facility.
The Bioenergy Energy Association of New Zealand, to which Azwood is accredited, had long identified Otago as the ideal growing environment for wood fuel, with at least 125,085ha of planted production forestry in the region to feed the growing biomass industry.
Danone biomass boiler project engineer Ben Fisher (27), of Wellington originally, was representative of the diverse team working on the NZ $30 million boiler, which had brought in expertise from all around the world. Having grown up in the suburbs but having a keen bent for sustainability in engineering, he was enjoying the rural isolation of Clydevale and abundant forestry.
"We partnered with Azwood, a local company that makes biomass fuel. The fuel needed to be sourced from sustainably-managed forestry within a 50km range of the site. It is mostly radiata that is grown here, but so long as it is coming from a sustainably managed forest it can be used as fuel in our boiler."
"The wood has to be local because of sustainability," Danone's sustainability communication and stakeholder relations manager Helene de Laguiche, said. "Up until now we've run on lpg. Five years ago, we started looking at cleaner energy, and wood-burning energy because of the availability in New Zealand was the obvious choice."
“In Europe, bio-ash, what was left over from burning, was put to use. "There is a very niche market in New Zealand with opportunities to use it, for instance, in roading, but also in cement and compost. Once our biomass boiler is running, we will analyse the bio-ash produced from the boiler and look for the most appropriate way to repurpose it locally."
The quality would need to be tested, but was definitely something to consider for the future "to complete the sustainability cycle of biomass". Overall, the transition to biomass at Danone would create about 10 additional jobs from supply to extra staff to feed the boiler.
The Finnish-made boiler was manufactured by KPA Unicon and the only one of its type in New Zealand. It was tailor-made for the operation at Danone, which would be the largest dairy plant to run solely on biomass in New Zealand.
Danone NZ is also leading the way within Danone, behind its Brazil and Ireland plants, which have already reached the absolute carbon-neutral goal. "It's about sharing knowledge and creating partnerships with other industries," De Laguiche said. “There's no secrets. It's not something that we would want to keep to ourselves."
Photo: Danone biomass boiler project engineer Ben Fisher and the company's sustainability communication and stakeholder relations manager Helene de Laguiche. Photo / Mary-Jo Tohill
Source: Otago Daily Times
Changes to upcoming event plansWoodWorks 2021 Conference
New Zealand’s 6th annual WoodWorks 2021 Conference incorporating local CLT plant tours has been rescheduled. It will now run, as an in-person event, on Wednesday 3 November 2021. The BRANZ pre-conference workshop and CLT plant tours to Red Stag’s Waipa site are planned to run on Tuesday 2 November. Further details can be found in the story in this week’s issue or from the event website
Timber Design Society Roadshow 2021 moving online
The 2021 NZTDS Roadshow was due to start September 1st. Due to the recent shift of New Zealand to Lockdown Level 4 restrictions and the high likelihood of large population centres remaining in Levels 3 and 4 for the next few weeks, the 2021 roadshow is now moving to a fully online format. It runs now on the 7-9 September. Full details on the programme and new format can be found here.
Canterbury West Coast Wood Council Forestry Awards
Planned to be run in Christchurch on Friday 20 August, this forestry awards evening was to be the first of its kind for both regions. With over 400 tickets sold it was due to run just three days before the COVID lockdown came in. With a lot of hard work behind the scenes, it’s now being rescheduled to run on Friday 19 November.
Northland Wood Council Forestry Awards
Originally scheduled to run on 17 September, the current uncertainty of the Delta variant and community cases has led to the organisers to reschedule to Friday 3 December. Ticket sales were already over 400 for the evening so the call to postpone rather than cancel has been made. Updates on changes and the new plans will come through direct correspondence or through the awards website.
FWPA Managing Director announces resignationAfter 13 years at the helm Ric Sinclair, Managing Director of Forest and Wood Products Australia Ltd (FWPA), has given three months’ notice of his resignation.
“I am proud of what the team have achieved during my time at FWPA,” Mr Sinclair said, “and I look forward to seeing them continue to grow relationships with our stakeholders, communication channels with our markets and new opportunities for sustainable forest and wood products.”
When asked to nominate his key achievements, Mr Sinclair listed: building a great team focused on collaborating to deliver results; establishing a partnership with Planet Ark to tell wood’s carbon and renewability story through consumer advertising; creating WoodSolutions, a world-leading activity promoting the use of wood and wood products to material specifiers in the construction sector and forging strong stakeholder relationships.
But he was quick to add, then the achievements were not his, but the whole team’s.
Other significant achievements during Mr Sinclair’s leadership include; ensuring changes to the National Construction Code that reduce impediments to the use of wood and wood products in mid-rise projects; establishing an advisory service to help realise mid-rise opportunities; developing a statistics resource for the industry; creating ForestLearning to provide teaching materials to schools; implementing WoodSolutions Campus, an online training centre; launching an industry leadership program; using wide-ranging research to inform evidence-based decisions and founding the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life.
Mr Sinclair has also been instrumental in building stronger relationships with Government and other Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs).
Three independent assessments commissioned by FWPA during Mr Sinclair’s leadership showed that the forest and wood products industry received exceptional returns for each dollar invested and company’s external audits have continued to confirmed exemplary financial management
The FWPA Board will be conducting a search for his replacement.
OneFortyOne’s Kaituna sawmill award winnersKaituna Sawmill opened its doors to the New Zealand Minister for Climate Change, the Hon James Shaw, and 50 guests as part of a Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards field day on 17 August.
The sawmill’s 46 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years and its reduction of its carbon footprint by 934 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per annum were just two of the sustainability achievements which led to it being named as the winner in the forestry category at this year’s awards.
The Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards are held every two years and attract entries from businesses and community organisations around the region. Category winners share their knowledge and experience through a series of public field days. The Kaituna Sawmill event was the second in the series which runs through until November 2021.
Visitors to the field day listened to OneFortyOne Environmental Planner Kristie Paki Paki as she outlined the background to the sawmill’s award entry, beginning with the sawmill starting to measure emissions 10 years ago.
She described how a substantial NZ$8 million investment in a Polytechnik biomass-fired energy centre in 2017 allows the sawmill to burn wet sawdust to generate energy to dry its timber products. Previously the sawmill spent more than half a million dollars per annum to buy waste oil to use as its fuel source. Using the Polytechnik enery centre has resulted in cost savings, increased productivity and quality improvements, said Paki Paki.
Minister Shaw said that he was surprised to learn how much the sawmill spent on fuel (waste oil) before it bought its Polytechnik system and was very impressed by the efficiency of the whole sawmill operation. “It’s really quite astonishing technology and there’s such a commitment to utilising every part of the resource during the process,” said Shaw. The Minister also commended the use of waste on site. “It’s tremendous waste capture and there is further potential and that’s really exciting because all that waste can be turned into value. Biochar has tremendous carbon capture potential.”
Visitors to the field day were positive about what they saw during their tour. “I was really impressed with the health and safety on site and the efficiency of the operation,” says Forest and Land Use Advisor for Te Uru Rākau, Tamara Orr. Sustainability Manager for White Haven Wines Josh Barclay said that he didn’t expect the scale of the sawmill operation. “It demonstrates the process of continual improvement really well,” said Barclay.
Chair of the Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards Jo Grigg said that she was struck by how measuring its emissions was the starting point for the sawmill’s journey and hoped other businesses and organisations would be encouraged to do the same.
Awards judge Ket Bradshaw told the gathering that Kaituna Sawmill’s continuous improvement and its genuine desire to reduce emissions was clear in its award entry. “It stood out amongst other forestry entries because of the business’ reach and integration. Keep sharing your stories with neighbours and the public, it’s an important part of your licence to operate.”
General Manager of Kaituna Sawmill Tracy Goss said that the sawmill staff numbers have gone up by 18 percent over the past six months and that it is firmly focused on helping to meet increased demand for timber products within the domestic market. “The majority of our timber products remain within the South Island. 75 percent of our timber products remains within New Zealand,” said Goss.
“While we have a resource consent for half a million log tonnes per annum, we are currently only doing 150,000. Our chip and excess sawdust also represent real opportunities and we are always interested in collaborating to achieve value and reduce waste.”
Minister Shaw commended Goss and his team for their leadership. “If we could transfer this around the rest of the industry and other industries, we would be a long way down the path of reducing emissions,” said Shaw. “We know where we want to be and where we are now but we can’t quite figure out how to get between the two. Kaituna Sawmill and the team show us a pathway.”
Photo: The OneFortyOne Kaituna Sawmill team at their Environment Awards field day (credit: Tim Cuff)
Cat launches remote control systemThink of the work being done at the moment around remote controlled log hauler operations - keeping those working on steeper forest slopes safe. This work is ongoing - but the targets already set. In a similar vein, Caterpillar has launched its remote-control system for large excavator models into the North American and Japanese construction equipment markets. Designed to remove machine operators from dangerous work sites – such as quarrying and demolition and decommissioning activities – Cat Command for Excavating can now be used with six excavator models in the 20 to 40 tonne class.
Both new and existing Cat 320, 323, 326, 330, 336 and 340 excavators can be fitted with the technology, via a ‘Command-ready’ field kit installed by the manufacturer’s authorised dealers. The world’s largest OEM by sales says that the new Cat Command for Excavating system allows the machines to be used with “either line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight remote operating configurations”.
The ‘Command-ready’ kit, which is installed on top of the cab, comprises multiple cameras for non-line-of-site operation from the Command station, indicator lights, a microphone, wireless receiver, and an antenna. In addition to aiding the training of less experienced machine operators, Cat said its remote-control system also “offers a solution to workforce shortages by opening opportunities to those with physical limitations that prevent them from climbing into the equipment.”
The line-of-sight configuration allows onsite operators to control the excavator from up to 400m away, using a lightweight console with a shoulder harness. Capable of controlling “all excavator functions with virtually no response delay”, Cat described the console as ideal for temporary or emergency applications, as work sites do not require any communications infrastructure to use it.
Operation of the excavators can also be changed from remote to manual operation using a ground-level switch. Unlike the handheld console, the non-line-of-sight configuration is an office-based set up that uses Cat’s Command station. It enables operators to control up to five different machines (one at time) on sites that are located miles away, via the contractor’s wireless network.
The Command station, which simulates the cab of the excavator, comprises a joystick, foot pedal controls and touchscreen monitors. Cameras fitted on the excavators provide the office-based operator with multiple views of the machine and worksite via a universal screen setup.
Cat said, “With users comfortably controlling dig, lift and tracking functions from a safe location, Command for Excavating enables production to restart immediately following disruptive processes, such as blasting in quarry applications. “It also enhances safety and improves machine productivity on a range of projects like operating in unstable underfoot conditions, brownfields, shore work, demolition and site decommissioning, and stevedoring.”
According to the manufacturer, the technology could help to attract a new generation of workers and increase the “longevity of experienced operators”.
Tasmanian FPA welcomes budget announcementsTasmanian Forest Products Association is looking forward to working closely with the state government and the minister to implement some important budget announcements that affect the forestry sector.
“Importantly the budget recognises the need for more on-island processing and value adding of forestry products that will support and deliver more jobs” said Tasmanian Forest Products CEO Nick Steel. “The new AU$10 million fund over five years will support our growing industry and regional communities by providing support for innovation and excellence in value adding”.
In addition, the budget provides:
- AU$1.15 million over three years to the Tasmanian Timber Promotions Board to promote the use of sustainable Tasmanian timber products across the world, and
- AU$150 000 over three years to address skills shortages and train the forestry industry leaders of tomorrow will allow the industry to continue to innovate and produce world leading timber products and resources on island.
Timberlink announces new LOSP treatment plantTimberlink has announced the next stage in the evolution of their Tarpeena manufacturing facility with the installation of a new state-of-the-art treatment plant. The treatment plant will produce LOSP treated timber, including Timberlink Green low odour outdoor structural, a key part of Timberlink’s timber product range.
This exciting expansion in capability for Tarpeena follows the significant upgrade of the site over three years and leverages off the new saw-line currently in commissioning. The facility will support existing and future treatment needs, including services required to support Timberlink’s Cross Laminated Timber and Glue Laminated Timber (CLT & GLT) market entry in 2023.
“This investment in a dedicated treatment plant is another key development in the creation of a world-class timber processing facility in Tarpeena. New permanent roles will be created at the site, in addition to a number of jobs created during construction,” said Timberlink CEO Ian Tyson.
The project will commence in September 2021 and is expected to be completed early in 2023. This investment will see further expansion of Timberlink’s production of outdoor timber at Tarpeena. This will be in addition to the treated timber manufactured at our Tasmania treatment facility located at the Bell Bay manufacturing plant.
Promotions for sustainable Tasmanian timberThe Tasmanian Liberal Government is supporting the use of timber as the sustainably responsible choice in building and promoting Tasmanian timber as the highest-quality wood available to markets around the world.
As part of the First 100-day Plan election commitment they have established a grant deed for AU$1.15 million with the Tasmanian Timber Promotion Board towards an AU$2 million strategic marketing campaign focused on raising awareness of the quality and versatility of Tasmanian timber.
Jointly funded by the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian timber industry, the campaign will soon be pushing our timber products, locally, nationally and internationally to help make it the most envied building material for the world’s top designers and architects. With timber currently in high demand, there is an opportunity to make Tasmanian timber the go-to for architecture and construction, internal design and fit-out and furniture production.
The campaign will be supported by a full-time Wood Encouragement Officer who will promote the benefits of using Tasmanian wood, especially for environmentally conscious architects and developers. While the sector is already worth about AU$1.2 billion to our economy annually, we want to see that grow, providing even more direct benefit to our economy and local communities and supporting even more regional jobs.
The new campaign will build upon the industry’s previous We are Tasmanian Timber campaign, which was also jointed funded by the Tasmanian Government and industry.
VFPA recommendations for Major Event ReviewThe Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) have stood the test of time and support mature policy decisions that balance the RFAs environmental, social, economic (including timber harvesting), Indigenous, and cultural values. Arising from the 2019-20 bushfires, the first-ever Major Event Review is underway. The Victorian Forest Product Association (VFPA) urges the Review Panel to maintain this balance through a principled approach to this review.
“Since 2000, the number and extent of bushfires have decimated the RFA values and has also destroyed thousands of hectares of privately owned plantation forests,” said Ms Kerr, VFPA CEO. “In terms of bushfires, we cannot control the weather, so the only thing we can control is the fuel load within our public forests”.
“The scientific consensus is that it is essential to employ mechanical fuel reduction and low-intensity fires of a sufficient scale to reduce fuel loads. Numerous Bushfire Royal Commissions have recognised this scientific consensus and called on the Victorian Government to ensure that a minimum of 5% of our forests is subjected to controlled burns. The effect on fuel loads can last up to 20 years.”
“However, at present less than 2% of Victoria is controlled burnt and most is rightly targeted at protecting communities and essential infrastructure. None of the current Victorian programs will address the landscape scale reduction needed to protect our forests, meaning that it is just a matter of time before another catastrophic mega-fire will occur.”
“Moreover, the Victorian Government’s decision to close Victoria’s native forestry industry ignores the role that responsible and sustainable forest management plays in supporting the health of our forest ecosystems and in supporting fuel reduction in our public forests.”
“The decision is also short-sighted. Our foresters, harvest contractors and haulage workforce play an essential service in fighting fires and recovery from bushfires. Their expertise, knowledge, experience, and specialised equipment will be gone next time a mega-fire comes along,” concluded Ms Kerr.
Source: Victorian Forest Product Association
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