The 2019-20 bushfire season was the worst experienced. Forestry Corporation's firefighting teams and resources have been an integral part of the coordinated statewide firefighting response and recovery efforts.
Salvaged close to five million tonnes of softwood timber, the largest post-fire salvage in our history
Expanded our production nurseries to grow an extra three million seedlings each year
Began the replanting with over 14 million seedlings to get in the ground this winter
Repaired more than 5000 kilometres of roads and 80 bridges.
You can find out more in the video below.
Salvaging and replanting our softwood plantations
While pine plantations around NSW were impacted by fire, the fire-affected trees were not all lost. While the trees are less fire tolerant than many native Australian species, fire-affected pine trees can still be harvested and processed into timber products in much the same way as unburnt trees can. Once the outer bark is removed, the timber underneath is still strong and suitable for a range of uses including structural timber. Pine trees can be salvaged for 12 months or more after a fire.
Since the 2019-20 fires, close to five million tonnes of fire-affected timber have been salvaged and processed into important timber and wood products. This has supplied much needed timber for building materials while offsetting the cost of replanting from the future.
Each year, we replant around 10 million seedlings, to regrow every tree we harvest. Following the fires, we have upgraded our seedling production nurseries and will be planting around 14 million seedlings each year over seven years to restock all the fire affected plantations and regrow for the future.
Forestry Corporation manages more than 60,000 kilometres of roads and many hundreds of bridges and crossings. These are used by the community to access State forests for tourism and recreation and in many instances they also serve as vital road links to properties or between communities. They also provide access for forestry operations. The fires had an enormous impact on roads, bridges and other State forest infrastructure and the repair work is ongoing. To date, Forestry Corporation has repaired more than 5000 kilometres of roads and 80 bridges in fire-affected forests.
Timber is the most renewable building product available and we have also played a crucial role in delivering the renewable timber needed to rebuild homes, power poles, bridges and community infrastructure, maintaining local work in fire-affected communities and regrowing our forests for the future.
Supporting the recovery of native forests
The recovery and health of forests and wildlife following the 2019-20 fires is paramount, which is why renewable timber production is so carefully managed, particularly in the post-fire landscape. Forestry Corporation has been appointed to manage State forests for a range of uses including renewable timber production and works in a mix of native forests that have been harvested and regrown continuously as well as timber plantations. Forestry Corporation is committed to ensuring the timber resource continues to be managed in line with ecologically sustainable forest management principles.
We carry out ongoing monitoring of flora and fauna, water quality and forest health to ensure the forests we manage continue to support thriving wildlife populations, clean waterways and healthy forests today and into the future. We are developing additional long-term monitoring programs so we can continue to assess the ongoing recovery of State forests following the 2019-20 fires.
In NSW, the majority of public forests are set aside for conservation and a small proportion is managed as multiple use forests available for renewable timber production. About one per cent of the State forest estate harvested for timber and regrown each year, which is around 0.1 per cent of the broader forested landscape, in NSW each year in line with strict regulations that were developed by expert scientific panels to protect and maintain wildlife habitat.
While the 2019-20 fire season impacted large areas of the landscape, these robust underpinning protection measures continue to provide a very high level of protection for wildlife and their habitat. However, Forestry Corporation is taking additional precautionary steps to minimise the impact of operations following these fires. Harvesting in native forests not impacted by fire has been reduced by moving the majority of operations into hardwood plantations where possible.
Following an environmental assessment, Forestry Corporation has introduced additional protections to augment environmental safeguards and minimise the impact of operations in the post-fire landscape. Forestry Corporation has also reviewed the long-term sustainable yield of timber from NSW State forests following the 2019-20 bushfires to ensure the amount of timber harvested and the stocks of timber in the forests remain stable over the long-term.
Working for the long-term
Forestry is a long-term industry and we are replanting and regrowing forests so they continue producing renewable, sustainable timber products for the future.
Timber is a vital product – the ultimate renewable product – and we are working hard today to ensure NSW State forests will continue to produce timber sustainably for generations to come.