Winter planting underway in South West Slopes State forests

Pine seedlings are being planted in 3,400 hectares of State-owned plantations in the South West Slopes during Forestry Corporation of NSW’s annual winter planting program, which is wrapping up in the coming weeks.

Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Operations Scheduler Teresa Baker said around 100 contract staff had been brought on board for planting season, which runs from June to August.

“Each winter we re-establish around 8,500 hectares of pine plantations across NSW and about 70 per cent of these are in the South West,” Ms Baker said.

“This year we will be planting over 3.6 million radiata pine seedlings over an area roughly equivalent to 6,800 football fields to restock plantations that have been harvested for timber in recent years.

“The seedlings were predominantly grown in Forestry Corporation’s production nursery at Tumut and will be planted throughout the Tumut and Tumbarumba region, including a large part of Buccleuch State Forest, as well as in plantations in Green Hills, Bago and Carabost State Forests.

“We plant in winter when pine seedlings are dormant, which makes them hardier and more resilient to the stress of being planted to give it the best chance of survival. Each seedling is planted by hand and an experienced planter can plant around 2,000 seedlings in one day.

“The ground in each plantation has been carefully prepared, cultivated and treated with herbicide for weed control to give the seedlings the best start possible, but like any crop the seedlings are still susceptible to extreme weather conditions such as snow and wind damage, so we’ll need to keep an eye on them to monitor how they are growing.

“This season has proven to be quite dry, which has been a challenge because the more rain we receive the better the seedling survival rates. If the seedlings survive the next 12 months, they are likely to make it to harvest.

“According to the NSW Department of Industry, the South West Slopes softwood plantation industry contributes $1014 million to the local economy, so this is a significant sector.

“Forestry Corporation has around 200,000 hectares of pine plantations in NSW and produces enough timber to construct a quarter of the homes built in Australia each year. The seedlings we plant today will grow into the trees that are going to build the new houses, home extensions and backyard fences 35 years from now so this is one of the most important times in our plantation cycle.”

Media contact: Elizabeth Fowler 9407 4265/ 0408 779 903