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					Victorian Wildfires: Implications for sustainable
          harvesting of native forests

  Presentation to ABARE Outlook Conference
                   Canberra
            Tuesday 2 March 2010
                Michael Ryan
          Forest Scientist VicForests
Outline of Presentation

> VicForests business
> Responsibilities VicForests, Department of Sustainability and Environment
> Volumes harvested and silvicultural systems
> The Fires
> Salvage harvesting and implications
> Forest recovery
> Conclusions




                                                                              2
VicForests business is??
                                             Toolangi 1939 Mountain Ash   photo: Michael F. Ryan




                  Sustainable harvest and sale of trees like this:




                                             Into $ for treasury from sale
And to regenerate sites afterwards
                                             of sawlogs and pulpwood 3
   And this produces…




                                                                              4
Housing, flooring, furniture, woodchips and paper   photos: Michael F. Ryan
But increasingly it has been salvaging dead timber
                                       Big Hill Mt Beauty post 2003   photo: Michael F. Ryan




                                                                                        5
 State forest planning harvesting - responsibilities

> Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE): responsible for
  forest management and the regulation of commercial activities and
  determining the sustainable area for timber production
> VicForests: responsible for harvest and sale of native forest timbers and
  regeneration of the harvested forest in Eastern Victoria.
 – We are the second largest hardwood producer in Australia
 – We are certified to the Australian Forestry Standard
 – We produce a natural product virtually free from pesticides, herbicides and
   fertilisers
 – We are heavily influenced by the natural environment – especially fire
 – We operate on about 10% of Victoria’s publically owned forests



                                                                                 6
VicForests by Numbers (VicForests annual report)

> 132 Staff
> $135M Revenue,
> 1.7M m3 of log products per annum
> 79 Contractor companies 350 employees
> 35 Customers             1,300 employees

                                                   7
VicForests by Numbers

>160 Yellow Goods




                        Photos Michael F. Ryan

                                                 8
VicForests by Numbers

>210 Log Trucks




                                                 9
                        Photos Michael F. Ryan
What sort of silviculture do we use 2008/09?




                                               10
Average stumpage values for future sawlog sales




                                                  11
     Fires are a natural part of our landscape




                                            Wallaby Creek Fire killed Mountain Ash burnt
                                            7th February 2009 – Kinglake National Park
                                            photo Michael F. Ryan




Control burn Powelltown
photo Michael F. Ryan




                                                                                     12
Fires area 1939 ~3M ha




                         13
Fire Area 1983 – 460,000 ha




                              14
Fire Area 2003 – 1.3M ha (Victoria figures only)




                                                   15
Fire Area 2006/07 1.2 M ha (source VicForests)




                                                 16
Fire Area 2009 – 430,000 ha




                              17
Fire Impacts 2009

> The most devastating fires in Australia’s history
> 173 people killed
>70 Communities affected including the almost complete
 destruction of the towns of Marysville, Strathewan, Callignee,
 Flowerdale much of Kinglake and St Andrews
>More than 2000 houses destroyed
> 430,000 ha forest burnt
>Ongoing Royal Commission

                                                                  18
Fire Impact on VicForests

> Around 50% of VicForests’ staff and contractor workforce was directly
  involved in fire fighting duties.
> About 10% of VicForests timber resources severely burnt
  (approximately 50 000 ha – 25k Ash Species – 25k Mixed Species of
  464 000 ha out of available and suitable forest area).
> Affected area was primarily 1939 “Black Friday” fire regrowth
> 17 pieces of contractor plant burnt.
> 2 sawmills destroyed
> 50 000 tonnes (~$2M) of processed pulpwood lost from in-forest log
  dump in Marysville
> Damage to roads and bridges
                                                                          19
Business Response

Four Projects Initiated:
> People – manage trauma and return to work for staff and
  contractors
> Resource – Model impact on future wood supply (80+ years)
> Salvage – plan harvesting within fire killed areas
> Communication – pro-active, consistent information to all
  stakeholders



                                                              20
Objectives of Salvage Program

> The objectives of the salvage program were to:

 > minimise the impact of the fire on future supply levels;
 > minimise impact on existing contractual commitments to customers
   and contractors;
 > maximise (given current constraints) the value recovery from burnt
   forests;
 > maximise salvage timber harvested instead of harvesting unburnt
   forests;
 > Harvest in accord with specific salvage prescriptions and Code of
   Forest Practice
                                                                        21
Sawlog Quality and degrade




                                                                 22
Conventional ash log         Salvage ash log – barrel checking
Post Wildfire recovery 2009




                              23
   Post wildfire recovery - Use of Aerial Imagery




Figure 5: Coupe off Mt Margaret Keppel’s Creek and
                                                     Figure 6: Keppel’s Creek regeneration from 2004 near Mt
distinct “shadow” on North East (upper left) edge
                                                     Margaret showing distinct “shadow” on North East (upper
evidently burnt after the South Westerly change
                                                     left) edge. This was burnt after the South Westerly
(photo: Lucas Russell)
                                                     change. (Image VicForests LRI imagery)




                                                                                                        24
Planning
salvage in the
burnt
landscape




                 25
VicForests harvest volumes – (VicForests Data)




                                                 26
VicForests salvage volumes – (VicForests Data)




                                                 27
   Regeneration – existing seedlings plus seed




                                                                                                                28
Aerial Sowing following salvage operations of fire killed Alpine Ash 2006/07 Mt Beauty Photos Michael F. Ryan
November 03
November 04
November 05
November 06
September 07
May 09
CONCLUSIONS
>   The February 2009 fires had a devastating
    impact on people, townships, the
    environment and many dependent industries
>   Much of the existing timber industry is based
    on harvesting the regrowth from the 1939
    Black Friday fires
>   Timber needs to be salvaged quickly before
    the sawlog quality degrades
>   Salvage harvesting helps to meet existing
    contractual commitments and therefore
    reduces the impact of catastrophic fires on
    resource availability in the long term
>   There is still a strong future for the Victorian
    native forest industry but there will be some
    reduction in future timber availability
>   Catastrophic fire is an unwelcome, but
    essential, part of the ecology of the forests of
    south-eastern Australia

                                                           35
Silvertop Ash Cotyledons – Moondara photo: Michael F.   Ryan
Thank you


Information sources
VicForests staff for photos
VicForests Annual report 2009
VicForests Sustainability report 2009
VicForests annual operations report 2008/09
Bushfire Royal Commission Interim report 17 August 2009
Bushfire Royal Commission Statement of Esplin 2009


A more detailed paper is in preparation for Australian
Forestry

Contact Details:
Michael Ryan 0411-285568
Michael.Ryan@VicForests.com.au

Post salvage Regeneration Big Hill Mt Beauty
                                                         36
photo: Michael F. Ryan

				
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