Harvesting and replanting the Kinross State Forest plantations
The pine forests around Orange are popular destinations for walking, camping, mountain biking, four wheel driving, trail biking, fossicking and more. They also support a valuable industry that produces sustainable timber for Australian homes and businesses and creates thousands of regional jobs. They form part of NSW’s 230,000-hectare softwood plantation estate, which grows enough timber to build a quarter of Australia’s new homes each year. Find out more about growing for the future in the video below.
State forests are sustainably managed for multiple uses, including environmental conservation, tourism and recreation, and renewable timber production. Timber plantations are managed on long-term cycles and for most of the plantation’s life, they are open and freely available for the community to use and enjoy. However, every 30 years or so, plantations are harvested to supply renewable timber and replanted for the future.
What is happening at Kinross State Forest?
Kinross State Forest contains 388 hectares of Radiata pine plantations. These timber plantations were established in 1986 and 1990 and are now ready to be harvested to create renewable timber products then replanted for the next generation. Kinross State Forest also contains 209 hectares of natural forest, which will not be impacted by these operations.
Kinross State Forest will be harvested in late 2020 and replanted over the coming two to four years. During this time you will notice significant changes in the landscape as the mature trees are removed and taken to local processors and new seedlings are planted to begin regrowing the plantations. The operational phases you will notice are described below. During each of these phases forest access may be fully or partly limited for safety reasons.
Prior to the commencement of harvest and haulage activities, we will upgrade internal forest roads. From mid-2020, you may notice an increase in activity, which will include the use of graders and gravel tippers. During this time public access to internal forest roads will be limited.
We will be removing all the pine trees from this forest and transporting them to local processors where they will be converted into a range of renewable timber products, from house frames and furniture to kitchen cabinets and paper products.
Harvesting will commence around October 2020. Specialised harvesting machines will process each tree and cut it into a range of log products and stack these at the roadside ready for transport. We expect the operation to harvest the plantations in Kinross State Forest to take up to two years, operating during the spring, summer and autumn periods.
Specialist haulage vehicles will use Banjo Patterson Way and Ophir Road to take the products from the forest and deliver them to mills in Oberon and Bathurst for processing. Haulage vehicles will only operate on business days and typically between 5am and 5pm. These activities can create additional localised noise and dust.
After the trees are harvested, work will begin to prepare the ground for the new seedlings. Branches or other parts of the trees that are not suitable for renewable timber products will be stacked by bulldozers. These stacks will be burnt in a controlled manner to reduce fire risk and create the right environment for new seedlings. During this time, you may see or smell smoke for several days. We will also be conducting weed control operations to remove weeds that may compete with the seedlings.
Weed control operations are most often conducted using a helicopter and managed to strict controls. This will give the seedlings the best chance of surviving and growing into a robust pine plantation.
The seedlings we plant in Kinross State Forest need to grow into straight, strong, timber producing trees, so nothing is left to chance. Every year, Forestry Corporation selects seeds from seed orchards with genetic properties that are proven to be adapted for our local conditions and sows them in its custom-built nursery at Tumut, where they are nurtured for around seven months. Each winter, the nursery dispatches more than seven million seedlings to be planted in pine plantations across NSW.
Each pine seedling is planted by hand, with an experienced planter planting up to 2,000 seedlings per day. Pine seedlings are planted during winter because they are dormant during the cooler months, which means they can be transported more easily and planted in the ground in time for their spring growth period.
Replanting of Kinross State Forest may occur over multiple years and may commence prior to the completion of harvest activities in the plantation area.
Forestry Corporation plants around 8.5 million pine seedlings to regrow plantations each year. Laid end-to-end, these would stretch from Brisbane to Hobart.
Where will the timber go?
The typical radiata pine tree is up to 35 metres tall and half a metre across at chest height when harvested. It takes about six of these mature radiata pine trees to make one timber house frame.
The plantations of Kinross State Forest are expected to produce around 170,000 tonnes of renewable timber products from this harvest.
While the main product to come from these plantations will be structural timber used in house framing, each tree can produce a range of different products. The narrower sections towards the top are used to create products like timber panels for kitchen cupboards and benchtops, engineered timber products and paper products.
Can I visit the forest?
During the timber harvesting and replanting operations, parts or all of Kinross State Forest will be closed. There will be several active worksites and hazards making the area unsafe to enter.
We understand that Kinross State Forest is a popular area to visit and thank you for your patience and understanding during these operations. We look forward to welcoming visitors back in to enjoy the forest once the plantations have been replanted.
Reopening the forest for the community
Once the plantation area of Kinross State Forest is replanted we will reopen the forest for the community to welcome visitors back in to enjoy the forest for the next 30 years.
Walkers, runners and cyclists will be able to access formed roads as soon as operations have concluded, however some activities, such as mountain biking, away from formed roads will not be possible until such time as the seedlings have established, to give the seedlings the best chance of survival. Within one to two years of replanting, these trees will grow tall and robust enough for us to reopen the planted areas of Kinross State Forest.
Some of the smaller and weaker trees may be removed or ‘thinned’ at about age 15 to allow the remaining trees more space, light and water to grow, but for the coming decades the forest will be managed for the community and open for everyone to enjoy. In around 30 years, the trees will once again be ready to harvest, starting the cycle again for the next generation.
Sharing the road
During the upcoming operations, specialist haulage vehicles will be hauling timber through the forest and along Banjo Patterson Way. These vehicles have a range of safety features to ensure they are as safe as possible. These include electronic stability control; electronic roll protection, autotensioning load restraints, forward and driver facing cameras, in-vehicle monitoring systems, including fatigue and distraction management systems, GPS tracking and on-board scales.
However, you should always take extra care when sharing the road with heavy vehicles.
When sharing the road with heavy vehicles you should:
Be careful and reduce speed
Be prepared to move to the left side of the road if necessary
Allow trucks extra room on corners and do not overtake turning vehicles.
Kinross State Forest is a much-loved destination for mountain bikers. There will be a period where it will not be possible to mountain bike in Kinross State Forest, although there are some fantastic alternative mountain biking tracks in State forests around Canobolas and Glenwood. Contact your local club for more information.
Once the new seedlings have become established, we look forward to welcoming mountain bikers back into the forest and working with the community to establish a new network of mountain bike tracks for the community to enjoy over the next 30 years.
Renewable timber sourced from sustainably managed forests is a key part of the climate solution.
Taking into account the energy required to transform raw materials into building products and the fact that timber stores carbon for the whole of the product’s life, timber has a much smaller carbon footprint than other popular building materials like steel or concrete.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that in the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.
Every time a tree is harvested from a State forest pine plantation, another tree is planted in its place, making timber a sustainable, renewable resource for future generations – the ultimate renewable.