Following bushfires, we carefully manage our harvesting and regeneration program. This includes recovery harvesting of native forests in the burnt areas.
Recovery harvesting is subject to very strict rules and regulatory scrutiny to protect critical wildlife habitat, new seedlings, and to avoid erosion and water pollution.
Why is recovery harvesting important?
Recovery harvesting has occurred in Australian forests for more than 80 years. Fire-affected trees may die, but if recovered in a timely way, the properties of timber are not affected and can still produce high-quality timber.
By recovering this valuable natural resource before it degrades, recovery harvesting:
reserves habitat refuges, allowing less severely burnt forest to recover
maintains timber supply to the processing and manufacturing businesses, supporting regional economies and meeting community demand for valuable timber products
improves public safety by removing dead, unstable trees from roads, tracks and visited areas.
Sustainable recovery harvesting and protecting biodiversity
We plan our recovery harvesting activities using the best information available.
Prior to harvesting our expert ecologists and foresters identify and protect surviving biodiversity habitat and, where possible, ensure plants and animals are connected to healthy forest.
Recovery harvesting after the 2019-2020 bushfires
In response to the 2019–20 bushfires, VicForests, in consultation with the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR), developed a bushfire recovery timber harvesting program to responsibly and sensitively harvest and recover burnt timber in a very small part of the fire affected area.
This allowed us to harvest severely fire affected timber before it deteriorated and became unsuitable for processing by our customers. This helped maintain the supply of timber.
Our team of expert ecologists and foresters used the available science and data from DELWP and other trusted sources to identify and protect important biodiversity and habitat and, where it existed, helped ensure flora and fauna remained connected to healthy forest.
Immediately following the 2019–2020 bushfires, we paused all harvesting in the East Gippsland Forest Management Area (FMA) to allow DELWP to assess the impact of the fires and implement thorough threatened species surveys.
Based on the information received from DELWP, we put in place additional protections for priority habitat and threatened species. This includes additional protection for Greater Gliders.
Prior to harvesting our coupes are surveyed for fire-impacted species and habitat which informs where to apply additional protections, including increased buffers.
All harvesting is followed by a comprehensive regeneration program.
All our operations in these fire affected areas take place in accordance with the fire salvage harvesting requirements contained within the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests (2014) (the MSPs) as well as VicForests’ post bushfire timber recovery harvesting prescriptions.