Harvest highly regulated

June 08, 2018

VicForests has met with many community groups during several years to understand their views and provide them with information regarding timber harvest in this area.

In May The Ensign published an article on logging activity on the Barjarg Flat, in the Strathbogie ranges just outside Benalla.

At the time VicForests was unable to provide comment in response to issues raised by protesters who had managed to disrupt logging several times over concerns regarding the greater glider.

They have now collated the following information, which they would like us to share with the community.

Timber harvest has been occurring for many years in the Strathbogie ranges.

VicForests has met with many community groups during several years to understand their views and provide them with information regarding timber harvest in this area.

Harvesting on the Barjarg Flat coupe has now been completed.

After much consultation, this coupe was harvested using a lower-intensity harvest method.

Single-tree selection removes about 40 to 50 per cent of trees in the planned area and leaves behind trees of varying ages.

The younger ones are left to grow larger and the older ones are left to grow old and provide future habitat for native species.

A number of high conservation values were recognised and managed in this coupe.

An apiary trial is under way on the site to assess forest canopy connection effectiveness in supporting bee-hive populations.

Greater Gliders are protected using an interim prescription that protects glider habitat whether or not a glider is observed.

Nearly 20 per cent of the wood harvested from this site will go to firewood, a product in high demand in the local area for domestic heating and cooking.

In addition, the remaining wood left after harvest in this coupe will be made available for public firewood gathering, via DELWP Mansfield, as is the case with other recently harvested coupes.

Domestic high-quality saw log markets are significantly more valuable than other wood markets, but each coupe yields a range of wood quality, and there are different markets for all wood qualities.

In Barjarg Flat coupe, the low-intensity harvesting method has meant that saw-log yields were lower than usual because about 50 to 60 per cent of the trees have been preserved.

Conversely lower qualities/yields were higher than expected.

Export markets fluctuate based on domestic demand; domestic markets are supplied first.

In this instance, 48 per cent of the timber from Barjarg coupe went to export markets, comprising of lower-quality wood.

In 2016-17 about 17.5 per cent of the total timber harvested by VicForests was supplied to residual log and woodchip export markets.

Timber harvest operations are highly regulated and must comply with the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014.

Timber harvest only occurs following a multi-layered planning process that considers the management of the many environmental and other values present in the forest.

VicForests must access different areas to be sustainable and meet demands for various types and volumes of timber. Each area produces unique timber.

VicForests harvests 400 to 450 coupes per year, generating a wide range of qualities of wood.

In order to meet customer demand, factors such as managing risk, contractor scheduling, availability, proximity to markets and other variables like long lead times for planning all determine harvest locations.

There is only a small amount (sixper cent) of Victoria’s forest available and suitable to harvest — VicForests only harvest 0.04 per cent each year, and the area being harvested in this region is only 0.1per cent of the total Strathbogies forest.

This operation is important to the local economy as it will support about 25 direct jobs in the industry and many more down-steam jobs.

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