Victorian Wildfires: Implications for sustainable harvesting of native forests

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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 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Victorian Wildfires: Implications for sustainable harvesting of native forestsPresentation to ABARE Outlook Conference Canberra Tuesday 2 March 2010Michael RyanForest Scientist VicForests

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    Outline of PresentationVicForests businessResponsibilities VicForests, Department of Sustainability and Environment Volumes harvested and silvicultural systemsThe FiresSalvage harvesting and implicationsForest recoveryConclusions

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    Sustainable harvest and sale of trees like this:And to regenerate sites afterwardsVicForests business is??Into $ for treasury from sale of sawlogs and pulpwoodToolangi 1939 Mountain Ash photo: Michael F. Ryan

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    And this produces Housing, flooring, furniture, woodchips and paper photos: Michael F. Ryan

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    But increasingly it has been salvaging dead timberBig Hill Mt Beauty post 2003 photo: Michael F. Ryan

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    State forest planning harvesting - responsibilitiesDepartment 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 AustraliaWe are certified to the Australian Forestry StandardWe produce a natural product virtually free from pesticides, herbicides and fertilisersWe are heavily influenced by the natural environment especially fireWe operate on about 10% of Victorias publically owned forests

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    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

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    VicForests by Numbers160 Yellow Goods

    Photos Michael F. Ryan

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    VicForests by Numbers210 Log Trucks

    Photos Michael F. Ryan

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    What sort of silviculture do we use 2008/09?

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    Average stumpage values for future sawlog sales

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    Fires are a natural part of our landscapeWallaby Creek Fire killed Mountain Ash burnt 7th February 2009 Kinglake National Park photo Michael F. Ryan Control burn Powelltownphoto Michael F. Ryan

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    Fires area 1939 ~3M ha

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    Fire Area 1983 460,000 ha

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    Fire Area 2003 1.3M ha (Victoria figures only)

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

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    Fire Area 2009 430,000 ha

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    Fire Impacts 2009The most devastating fires in Australias history173 people killed 70 Communities affected including the almost complete destruction of the towns of Marysville, Strathewan, Callignee, Flowerdale much of Kinglake and St AndrewsMore than 2000 houses destroyed430,000 ha forest burntOngoing Royal Commission

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    Fire Impact on VicForestsAround 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 regrowth17 pieces of contractor plant burnt.2 sawmills destroyed 50 000 tonnes (~$2M) of processed pulpwood lost from in-forest log dump in MarysvilleDamage to roads and bridges

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    Business ResponseFour Projects Initiated:People manage trauma and return to work for staff and contractorsResource Model impact on future wood supply (80+ years)Salvage plan harvesting within fire killed areasCommunication pro-active, consistent information to all stakeholders

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    Objectives of Salvage ProgramThe 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

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    Sawlog Quality and degradeConventional ash logSalvage ash log barrel checking

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    Post Wildfire recovery 2009

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    Post wildfire recovery - Use of Aerial ImageryFigure 5: Coupe off Mt Margaret Keppels Creek and distinct shadow on North East (upper left) edge evidently burnt after the South Westerly change (photo: Lucas Russell) Figure 6: Keppels Creek regeneration from 2004 near Mt Margaret showing distinct shadow on North East (upper left) edge. This was burnt after the South Westerly change. (Image VicForests LRI imagery)

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    Planning salvage in the burnt landscape

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    VicForests harvest volumes (VicForests Data)

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    VicForests salvage volumes (VicForests Data)

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    Regeneration existing seedlings plus seedAerial Sowing following salvage operations of fire killed Alpine Ash 2006/07 Mt BeautyPhotos Michael F. Ryan

  • November 03

  • November 04

  • November 05

  • November 06

  • September 07

  • May 09

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    CONCLUSIONSThe 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 firesTimber 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 availabilityCatastrophic fire is an unwelcome, but essential, part of the ecology of the forests of south-eastern AustraliaSilvertop Ash Cotyledons Moondara photo: Michael F. Ryan

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    Thank you

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

    A more detailed paper is in preparation for Australian ForestryContact Details:Michael Ryan 0411-285568Michael.Ryan@VicForests.com.auPost salvage Regeneration Big Hill Mt Beauty photo: Michael F. Ryan

    *******The recommended model is to put to the open market during 2004/05 the resource that becomes available during 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10. A series of at least 2 auctions during 2004/05 will determine the allocation and price for resource lots that are available at the expiry of all of the current licences and issued contracts. The model will reveal the current price and the future price for the resource at the same time. This information will then be used to determine all prices from July 2006 and onwards.The resource lots will be based on the inherent resource characteristics. It is important that during the transition period while licences are replaced by contracts that the resource lots reflect what is available to be sold. The resource lots will have various tenures up to 10 years.Auctions will then be held annually to sell the resource available from expiring contracts and any new resource. These lots will generally be available in six to eighteen months after the auction.

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