Regrowth Retention Harvesting
Regrowth Retention Harvesting is a method of harvesting that increases the amount of forest retained within the area being harvested.
This means additional areas for a range of values such as the protection of habitat for species like the Leadbeater's Possum, promoting the development of older forest structures within the harvested landscape and improving connectivity.
It is an alternative to traditional clearfell harvesting methods that aims to match natural disturbances as well as protect biodiversity values.
VicForests is using retention harvesting to retain a larger proportion of forest surrounding areas harvested for timber harvesting - see photo right.
These retained areas will be left to mature and can provide both current and future habitat for a range of species found in our forests.
Retention harvesting is designed to work in conjunction with Victoria’s extensive National Park and reserve system to promote older forest and habitat connectivity across the areas of State Forest landscape.
Retention will replace traditional clearfell harvesting methods in 50 per cent of the area harvested across the Leadbeater’s Possum range and is one of the key recommendations announced by the Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group.
The key criteria of retention harvesting operations that differ from traditional clearfell methods are retained unharvested forest, ensuring the influence of retained areas is greater than 50 per cent of the area harvested and the protection of old growth structures and other ecological values.
More than 50 per cent of the area harvested must be within one tree length (or 60 metres in Ash forest of retained habitat) for the operation to be considered retention harvesting. The retained habitat must be more than 50 years old.
This area of influence (one tree length from the retained forest) plays an important role in encouraging the return of local biodiversity to the area after harvesting by influencing light, temperature, seed fall and forest structure.
The age of the retained trees is also important as one of the goals of retention harvesting is to develop future older forest and old growth characteristics in these forests.
Using Regrowth Retention Harvesting
Regrowth Retention Harvesting is the newest harvesting method to be adopted by VicForests for ash forest types and is currently being used in up to 50% of the harvesting operations in ash forest within the Leadbeater's Possum range.
When planning retention harvesting operations, VicForests staff not only focus on timber production but also consider biodiversity values and ecological outcomes.
Forest values are not distributed equally across the landscape and the areas identified for retention are unique to each operation.
Some of the factors considered when deciding how and where to retain areas include presence of large old trees, threatened species habitat, operational factors including safety, practicality and likely success of regeneration and social factors including the aesthetics of the harvested area.
Regrowth Retention harvest site in Central Highlands in this case showing a retained island, linear retention along a community walking track, increase hydrology protection and retained scattered Messmate and Grey Gum habitat trees.