VicForests commences responsible harvesting in East Gippsland Forest Management Area
10 May 2021
Immediately following the 2019-2020 bushfires, VicForests paused all harvesting in the East Gippsland Forest Management Area to allow the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to assess the impact of the fires and implement thorough threatened species surveys.
Since around mid 2020, VicForests has been conducting salvage harvest operations across eastern Victoria, predominantly in the bushfire affected North East Forest Management Area. This work has supported the towns and communities most affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires.
Good rainfall and seasonal conditions across the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 have facilitated an encouraging recovery of the forest understory and VicForests has identified unburnt and lightly burnt areas within the fire footprint that can be sustainably harvested in 2021 while minimising risks to biodiversity.
As such, VicForests will resume harvesting unburnt coupes within the East Gippsland fire footprint. This harvesting will be essential to restoring supply for timber processers that have been significantly impacted by constraints during 2020.
VicForests is planning to harvest a very small area in East Gippsland over the next 18 months, totalling around 0.2% of the unburnt forest in East Gippsland.
Prior to the commencement of harvesting in unburnt coupes, VicForests undertakes a thorough planning process which uses information available from DELWP, Arthur Rylah Institute and scientists and considers the fire severity, likely biodiversity impacts and requirements for key species of concern. This process includes aerial photography and pre-harvest flora and fauna surveys that inform the protection measures which comply with, and often exceed, regulatory prescriptions.
VicForests protects unburnt areas of highest priority for a number of threatened species of concern, particularly where these areas may represent a significant proportion of their remaining habitat. Old growth assessments are also completed at every coupe and if identified, excluded from harvesting.