We are committed to supporting the protection and restoration of environmental values and economic activity and employment in regional Victoria.
Our business supports jobs and livelihoods for about 2500 Victorians. Many of these are in rural towns, including towns affected by the 2019–20 bushfires, and now also by coronavirus (COVID 19).
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 allows us to harvest severely fire affected timber before it deteriorates and becomes unsuitable for processing by our customers and maintain the supply of timber so far as is practicable to support and rebuild community livelihoods.
Using available science and data from DELWP and other trusted sources, our team of expert ecologists and foresters identify and protect important biodiversity and habitat elements and, where it exists, ensure flora and fauna are connected to healthy forest.
We understand some threatened species may have been severely impacted by these bushfires, so we have developed a suite of adaptive management prescriptions to guide our timber harvesting plans and methods. We will continue to review and apply all reasonably available information and advice as it becomes available.
Any VicForests’ operation in these fire affected areas will 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. We will also ensure all areas harvested are successfully regenerated.
Bushfire recovery harvesting operations
Immediately following the 2019–2020 bushfires, VicForests 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.
We plan to harvest approximately 530 ha of unburnt forest between 2021 and mid-2022, which is 0.2% of the estimated 260,000 ha of unburnt forest in East Gippsland.
All VicForests’ coupes are surveyed for fire-impacted species and habitat. Based on this information, additional protections, including increased buffers, are applied before harvesting commences.
All harvesting will be followed by a comprehensive regeneration program.
This harvesting is essential to restore supply into timber processers that have been significantly impacted by supply constraints during 2020.
All VicForests’ timber harvesting and regeneration operations must be conducted in line with Victoria’s strict environmental regulations and the State’s Forest Management Zoning scheme.
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