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Salvage begins on fire-affected forests

Myalup pine plantation fire salvage operation
15 February 2016

Salvage operations have begun in the Myalup region to recover as much saleable timber as possible, following recent bushfires that damaged State-owned plantations.

Forestry Minister Mia Davies said the damage from the Waroona bushfire, which swept through more than 3,300 hectares of pine trees in McLarty, Myalup, Bombara and Eckersley plantations in the Myalup coast region, would cost about $8 million to replace.

In addition, more than 150ha of pine trees in the Esperance region were damaged or destroyed.  Bushfire this week damaged an extra 25ha at the Myalup plantation. 

"The plantations ranged in age from about three to 40 years and the younger trees which were damaged cannot be salvaged," Ms Davies said. 

"The loss will have an impact given the trees form the basis of future feedstock for the pine industry in the Bunbury region.

"The Forest Products Commission estimates the timber industry will lose up to 500,000 cubic metres in future resource from these bushfires or the equivalent to one year's supply to major log processors.

"We are well under way with our salvage operations and what can be saved will be supplied firstly to local mills and then possibly overseas."

In response to the bushfires, the commission expects to replant 600 hectares a of State-owned plantations this year, with the balance being replanted over the next two winters. 

The Forest Products Commission will discuss future options with local landowners who have pine plantations under sharefarm arrangements with the commission.

"The commission will be working with the community, other Government agencies and industry on options for rebuilding the softwood plantation estate to sustain future industry," she said.

The commission regularly constructs fire breaks and has annual maintenance programs of spraying and grading to ensure the risk of fire spreading into and through plantations is minimised.

In the Wellington-Myalup region, the commission spent more than $120,000 on maintenance of fire breaks, access and water points on 5,000 hectares of land.