Come and talk about forestry with us
VicForests is inviting community members to attend Open House sessions across Eastern Victoria this month.
The Open House events, to be held in Healesville, Heyfield, Bairnsdale and Orbost, allow members of the community to drop in and discuss concerns, and ask questions about VicForests’ organisation and operations at their convenience.
We would like to invite community members to come and have a conversation about forestry with our staff.
It’s an opportunity to ask questions and find out information about both your local area, and the linkages to the rest of Victoria.
Find out where VicForests sits in relation to Victoria’s forests and where you can have input into the sometimes complex world of sustainable forest management.
There will be several information stations on our operational components such as Planning, Operations, Regeneration and the management of High Conservation Values as well as providing an opportunity to discuss VicForests’ bid to gain Forest Stewardship Council certification.
The format of the day will include interactive elements such as comment cards, and a Q&A wall.
We hope the open house will provide a relaxed atmosphere for all interested community members to come and discuss their issues and queries in a supportive and informative environment.
Children are welcome to come and enjoy a colouring station while we assist you with enquiries.
There will also be a facilitator on hand to greet visitors and help them direct their questions and issues to the right areas.
The Healesville Open House will be held at the Healesville Memorial Hall, 235 Maroondah Highway on Saturday March 14thfrom 11am – 4pm.
The Heyfield Open House will be held at the Heyfield War Memorial Hall , 38 MacFarlane Street, Heyfield on Friday March 20th from 1pm to 5pm.
The Open House in Bairnsdale will be held at the Bairnsdale RSL, 2 Bairnsdale-Forge Creek Road on Saturday March 21st from 11am- 4pm.
The Orbost Open House will be held Orbost Neighbourhood House, 1 Browning Street on Sunday March 22nd from 11am – 4pm.
If you have any questions ahead of the Open House day, please contact VicForests Regional Engagement Manager Liz Langford on 03 5969 9000 or email email@example.com, or visit our Open House page.
VicForests passes AFS surveillance audit
VicForests has successfully passed its certification surveillance audit under the revised nationally endorsed Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AFS).
AFS has been specifically developed for Australia’s forests and is internationally recognised by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) – the world’s largest forest certification scheme.
The AFS surveillance audit is a way of tracking VicForests’ compliance with the Standard.
Surveillance audits are like a health check for compliance. They flag any areas of concern and note what we’re doing well to ensure that we can rectify any issues that may arise between full certification audits.
Certification under AFS confirms that our operations are sustainable and our forests are managed with respect for ecological, social and ethical standards. It highlights that these operations are in line with independently assessed, global benchmarks for sustainable management.
The audit report states that “As with all system changes that are made by VicForests, there has been a thorough and professional review process utilising the full extent of the internal databases and business initiatives available.
“Whilst the forest management system has been in place for some time, it is now evolving as a complete business system drawing in other sections that have been operating independently. This is now leading to a stronger, consolidated and consistent approach,” the report said.
Another area that the audit highlighted as positive and working well was VicForests’ complaints and non-compliance handling procedures, “There is a very thorough root cause analysis process in place to deal with any complaints, non-conformities or potential issues that are identified through the various reporting and inspection processes.
“All complaints are well documented and all are fully investigated utilising regional and central office specialists as required,” the report stated.
In terms of biodiversity management, in particular VicForests’ pre-harvest surveying, the audit found that, “VicForests Pre-logging Fauna Surveys for 2014 provides a clear summary of all results obtained from the wildlife surveys that have been undertaken in twelve coupes if special interest.
“There has been a significant increase in the quality and quantity of data now gathered in relation to special values in the region and the additional prescriptions and operation adjustments required," the report stated.
This surveillance audit identified six areas that are to be improved before the next surveillance audit in June this year, mostly relating to paperwork documentation and monitoring of training for staff and contractors.
VicForests is highly scrutinised with extensive internal, external and regulatory audits taking place each year.
In addition to the AFS re-certification audit that occurs every three years, VicForests is also subject to AFS surveillance audits every six months.
Regulatory Forest Audit Program audits, managed by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, are also performed each year as well as VicForests’ own internal auditing.
Regular auditing ensures procedures and staff are up-to-date and relevant, and it encourages innovation and fresh approaches to ongoing system improvements and practices.
VicForests thanks Strathbogie community
We would like to thank the local community for attending an information event held in the Strathbogie State forest on February 22nd.
More than 50 people turned out to the event to discuss work planned to rehabilitate a site on the corner of Ferraris Rd and Barjarg Rd after harvesting.
We recognise the interest the community has in the management of their local forests and it was really pleasing to see so many people come along on the weekend.
We have faced a number of issues in our previous attempts to regrow the forest after harvesting on the site where the event was held so it was important for us to be able to outline what the next steps are in ensuring the forest returns.
The day was a chance for us to hear more about the community’s specific concerns regarding the site and also explain the rehabilitation plans we have in place including work which will take place over the next few months.
We understand the concern and wanted to reinforce to those who came along that we won’t be walking away from the site until the problems have been fixed.
It was terrific so many people were able to take the time to visit the forest on a Sunday and we hope those who came along found the day valuable.
The weekend’s event was a follow up to the ‘Open House’ held in Strathbogie in 2014.
We made a commitment to the community to continue discussions regarding their concerns and our plans for work in the Strathbogie Ranges.
Rather than do something again in a hall away from the forest, we wanted to visit an area of concern and be able to talk about the issues in the field.
While the focus of the day was the rehabilitation work planned for the Ferraris site, there was discussion around a range of other issues including future harvesting plans, how timber from harvesting operations is used and the return of understory species to sites after harvesting.
Those who did attend indicated they also wanted to understand more about the work to assess an area prior to harvesting and to also see examples of sites which have successfully regenerated after harvesting so we will look to schedule other events in the future.
VicForests regrowing program begins
VicForests has commenced planned regeneration burns across Eastern Victoria.
Carrying out these burns is a way of closely replicating the process that occurs in nature and is a vital step in regrowing previously harvested forest areas.
We are very conscious of the community’s sensitivity towards fire and want to ensure people are not alarmed by smoke they may see as a result of this process.
The burning of harvested areas is one of the most visually confronting stages of the regeneration process and an image that is often circulated out of context. It is however an essential step in the re-growing of forest as Victoria's eucalypt forests regenerate naturally by fire.
These burns play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of our forests by creating an environment which encourages the regrowth of trees native to the area.
The burns are generally completed within a day or evening and monitored by trained VicForests and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) staff who are onsite throughout.
Following on from last year, some regeneration burns will be conducted in the evening or at night in keeping with VicForests’ newly integrated lower intensity burning practices or to take advantage of cooler weather conditions.
We conducted stage one of a lower intensity burning trial in 2013 with very encouraging results. Burning at lower intensity has protected site specific environmental values.
This new technique of burning will be applied to our regrowth retention coupes as well as many areas that have specific special values that must be protected and retained.
These burns are part of a larger planned burning program being undertaken in conjunction with the DELWP.
VicForests has developed detailed plans in relation to its burning program with DELWP.
All burns will be authorised by DELWP prior to ignition and will be closely monitored by crews on location. Informing the broader community of these burns is undertaken through the formal DELWP notification process.
We would like to reassure the community that a thorough planning process has been completed prior to the commencement of this year’s regeneration burning program.
Residents who would like more information can contact the Victorian Bushfire Information line on 1800 240 667 or go towww.delwp.vic.gov.au/fire-and-emergencies
Hearing impaired residents can call the following numbers for more information:
• TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 240 667
• Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 240 667
• Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 1800 240 667.
Timber Harvesting Safety Zones will be in place during burn operations for the safety of the public and those conducting the burns. For more information go to visit our Timber Harvesting Safety Zones page.
Forestry Safety Summit 2015
A reminder that the 2015 Forest Industry Safety Summit is taking place in Melbourne, March 10-11, with VicForests as its principle sponsor.
The Safety Summit will advance the discussion of safety solutions with an expanded line up of speakers from both the USA and Canada, but with a majority focus from people within New Zealand and Australia bringing commercial and industry-wide funded solutions to the attention of everyone in the sector in both countries.
The summit will widen the coverage of forestry safety to include topics of interest to those working in log transport and other industry thought leaders and practitioners who are committed to being part of the move to make our forestry and related industries safer.
As the principal sponsor of the event, VicForests would like to share the details of the event with our contractors and any other parties interested in attending.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.forestsafety2015.com.