The 2019-20 bushfires impacted 1.6 million hectares across Victoria, mostly in the East Gippsland and the North East areas.
VicForests has developed a bushfire recovery timber harvesting program to responsibly and sustainably harvest a very small part of burnt areas.
This allows VicForests to harvest severely fire affected timber before it becomes unsuitable for processing by our customers.
VicForests will harvest up to 3,500 hectares over several years in areas already allocated to it for harvesting in the fire-affected 1.6 million hectares in Eastern Victoria.
There will be no harvesting in National Parks or reserves. Harvesting will offset harvest levels in unburnt areas of the forest. VicForests will not harvest unburnt areas within the fire footprint in 2020.
The decision to implement recovery harvesting was made by VicForests using the best information available.
This included an assessment of threatened species conducted by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
VicForests has also considered landscape wide planning and the need to protect high conservation values.
VicForests will retain all unburnt trees and maintain corridors to the forests outside of the harvest area.
The Office of the Conservation Regulator has been consulted in the development of the timber recovery program and monitors the standards and protections used in harvesting.
VicForests’ bushfire recovery timber harvesting effort is critical to local jobs and keeping mills operating.
This is especially important considering the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on jobs.
Post Bushfire Timber Recovery Process
Bushfire recovery timber harvesting documents and some of their key descriptions are available on the matrix below. These align with:
The Code of Practice for Timber Production (2014),
The Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests (2014) (MSP) and
DELWP’s Bushfire Emergency: Biodiversity Response and Recovery (Version 1, 23 Jan 2020).
This document outlines VicForests additional protection measures for species determined by DELWP to be most likely to be impacted by the extent of fire from the recent 2019-20 Bushfire Season and potentially impacted by timber harvesting. These prescriptions build upon minimum measures under the Code and the MSPs, and incorporate a precautionary approach based on information from DELWP’s Species Impact Assessments for Species of Immediate Concern, Habitat Distribution Models and VicForests threatened species risk assessment.
For each salvage coupe, VicForests will produce a coupe plan which clearly outlines how the planning process and adaptive management prescriptions outlined within the Post Bushfire Timber Recovery Instruction have been incorporated.
In addition, this will be supported by a High Conservation Value Summary and Retention Plan which outlines how identified threatened species will be managed and protected.