The View - April 2017
Regeneration program update
VicForests autumn regeneration program continues to progress as our staff prepare harvested areas for seeding.
Favourable weather conditions in early April meant that Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) could safely undertake a large number of planned burns.
This includes a number of regeneration burns, which have been carried out as part of the FFMVic planned burning program.
While there have been some public comments from activists focussing on VicForests regeneration burns, the burns related to timber harvesting make up just 1.7% of the total area burned across the State by FFMVic so far this year.
Regeneration burns are a critical part of regrowing the forest after timber harvesting as they create a natural seedbed to allow eucalypt seeds to germinate and grow.
The burns are comparatively small and localised in nature and follow a thorough planning process undertaken in conjunction with FFMVic.
Following regeneration burns, a program of aerial seeding will take place to spread locally-sourced seed by helicopter across the harvested sites.
FFMVic consists of specialist staff drawn from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests. These staff work alongside the CFA, other emergency services and communities across Victoria to protect people, property and the environment.
2016 Sustainability Report
The 2016 Sustainability Report has been released as an electronic report which is now available to read on the VicForests website.
This report provides an overview of the environmental, social and economic benefits of the activities we undertook during the period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.
During this period, an additional 7 000 hectares of habitat was protected for threatened fauna species including the Leadbeater’s Possums, Spot-tailed Quolls, Greater Gliders, threatened owls, Long-footed Potoroos, frogs and others.
VicForests continues to contribute to the recovery of the Leadbeater’s Possum which includes the implementation of our own surveys for the Possum to support the overall survey program.
All commitments to customers and contractors were met throughout the year and around 130 000 m3 of timber was awarded via six contracts, with tenures between two and five years.
A study by Deloitte Access Economics was released showing that harvesting operations from 1 600 hectares of forest in the Central Highlands contributed $573 million to the Victorian economy each year and generated 2 100 direct jobs.
VicForests has a commitment to regrow every area it harvests for timber. The process of regenerating an area back to its naturally state is complex and takes detailed planning and community consultation.
In the 2015/16 year approximately 2 855 hectares was harvested in eastern Victoria, 2 977 hectares was prepared for regeneration and 2 426 hectares successfully seeded and has begun regrowing.
In addition to this around 4 318 kg of seed was collected in the 2015/16 year to facilitate the regrowth of all native species we harvest and grow.
We also made great strides in safety performance in 2015/16 where within a period of 12 consecutive months there were no lost time injuries for staff as well as a 50 percent reduction in contractor lost time injuries.
We are committed to working along-side and supporting the regional and local communities where we work. Community members are always encouraged to provide input into our operational plans and we also supporting local community groups by attending events or providing timber or financial donations.
The Sustainability Report should be read in conjunction with VicForests' 2015-16 Annual Report and VicForests' Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management Plan.
New Radial timber mill brings economic potential to Gippsland
A new state-of-the-art radial timber mill will be opening in Gippsland this month and is set to boost both productivity for the mill and jobs for the region.
Chris McEvoy, managing director of Radial Timber Australia said that the new mill opening in Yarram is a first of its kind in the world.
“Using Australian-developed technology, this new mill will have the ability of tripling the capacity of our old mill, Mr McEvoy said.
“Radial sawmilling is a process that initially cuts logs into wedges like a cake, in line with the way a log naturally splits as it dries.
“This is different to conventional sawmilling which removes the edges of a round log to square it off before sawing into boards.
“This type of sawmilling allows us to produce more timber from smaller logs and can still successfully process sawlogs with splits,” he said.
Nathan Trushell, Acting CEO VicForests, said that the sawmill shows a promising future for both Radial Timber and the greater Victorian timber industry.
“This is a great example of how our industry is constantly adapting and evolving,” Mr Trushell said.
“As the main supplier for Radial Timber we are proud to support them during this exciting time and look forward to seeing the beautiful radial timber products enter the market,” he said.
The sawmill, which cost $4.5 million and took 12 months to build, provided local employment for the duration of the build and will also provide jobs for a number of new on-going workers at the mill.
“This expansion will secure our long-term viability within the industry and more than triple our production, bringing more jobs and activity to the region,” Mr McEvoy said.
“We are confident that between our 10 year contract with VicForests and over 2000 hectares of high value plantations that we have established in the region that we will be around for many years to come,” he said.
Almost 100% of Radial’s products, which include shiplap cladding, decking, screenboards and a range of unique radial products, end up in high end Melbourne and interstate markets.
Radial Timber is now in the planning stages for a further expansion of a new dry mill on the site adding another $1.3 million investment into the region.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, will be officially opening the mill in a ceremony that will showcase this innovative technology and celebrate the exciting economic potential it will bring to the area.
VicForests supports Upper Yarra Crank Up
VicForests once again attended and supported the annual Upper Yarra Crank up at the Yarra Junction museum in early April.
The event was a great opportunity for us to engage with more than 300 community members and help them with their questions about Victoria’s native timber industry.
We regularly attend events, such as the Upper Yarra Crank Up, as they help us develop a better understanding of the opinions and concerns that the community have around timber harvesting.
We also support the communities we work in by offering grants to local charity, sporting, educational and community groups through our Community Support Program.
The Yarra Junction museum is one of the community groups who have received a grant through the VicForests Community Support Program.
VicForests is a member of many local communities. Our staff, contractors and customers, work and live across the State and are committed to contributing to regional communities.