Sustainability underpins good forest management and, through careful planning and replanting, VicForests ensures that any forest area we harvest is regenerated for the future enjoyment of generations to come.
These areas are sown with the same species that were present prior to harvesting. This is usually achieved using seed collected from the area, however when this is not possible, we carefully select seed of similar origin from our extensive seed store. We consider important traits such as provenance, elevation and aspect to achieve the best outcomes.
Forest regeneration is an extensive and carefully managed process, which generally takes up to three years to complete.
Each year we collect Eucalyptus seed, which is placed into storage for future regeneration programs and to support post-bushfire recovery. VicForests retains Victoria’s largest store of Eucalyptus seeds.
VicForests collects seed throughout the forest from a range of species and forest types to ensure that there will be an appropriate match for any areas requiring regeneration. Many of the trees we retain for habitat during timber harvesting also contribute to the source of seed for regeneration.
Following the 2019–20 bushfires in South Eastern Australia, VicForests contributed 2.9 tonnes of seed from our seedbank and continue to collect seed to build the State’s seedbank to protect against future fire events. This seed along with our expertise contributed to the reseeding of 11,500 hectares of forest in Victoria.
Regeneration burns are a crucial step of VicForests’ operations and facilitating the effective regeneration of forests is required under the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014.
It remains the most ecologically suitable method of preparing a site for regeneration as it replicates the natural process for many of the species in Victoria’s forests.
With a focus on retention harvesting, VicForests has moved away from the reliance on high intensity regeneration burns to prepare a harvested area for seeding.
Our highly skilled regeneration and fire staff carefully plan and manage a broad suite of regeneration treatments that aim to protect the retained trees and habitat in a coupe.
We take extra precautions in areas that contain high conservation values in order to protect these values during burning. Such areas include Special Protection Zones that protect identified Leadbeater’s Possum colonies, old growth forest, Greater Gliders habitat, Tree Geebung, cultural heritage values and other protected flora and fauna.
The burn plans are developed in conjunction with Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) (including road closures). All burns are authorised by DELWP prior to ignition and are closely patrolled by crews on location.
Regeneration burning is undertaken when the fire risk is reduced and the weather is suitable.
Our trained fire staff work in conjunction with Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) to safely conduct annual regeneration burns. FFMVic consists of specialist staff drawn from DELWP, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests.
For more information on Victoria’s planned burning, including information on upcoming burns and smoke monitoring please visit Forest Fire Management Victoria.
Once the seed bed has been prepared with the regeneration burn, seed is spread across the prepared areas, either via seed trees left during harvesting, or by hand or helicopter.
GPS technology is used for the most accurate seeding as it gives a higher chance of successfully regrowing the forest by ensuring the seed is evenly distributed across a site.
VicForests may install temporary fencing to protect new seedling from grazing animals such as deer and wallabies.
Around 200,000 seeds are sown per hectare and of this only 10,000 seedlings might germinate. In another 50 to 60 years there will be around 300 trees per hectare left as part of the growing forest. The forest can naturally thin itself, making room for the healthiest trees as they grow. It is also possible to conduct thinning operations to encourage the growth of larger trees more quickly.
Following seeding, VicForests actively monitors these areas to ensure regeneration is occurring.
Regenerating coupes will remain on our Timber Release Plan (TRP) until they have been successfully regenerated.
When monitoring indicates the regeneration process has been successful, the areas are removed from the TRP.
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