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Regeneration of forest destroyed in Northcliffe fires

Karri forest fire salvage harvesting operation in Northcliffe
8 March 2016

Salvage and regeneration of the young karri forests burnt in the Northcliffe fires has started.

Forestry Minister Mia Davies said about 5,000 hectares of young karri regrowth within State forest boundaries was severely burnt in the 2015 Northcliffe fires.

Of this area, 3,000 hectares has been assessed as unlikely to recover without any management intervention. A 100 hectares area has been identified for a trial to investigate salvage and regeneration methods and ways to minimise the cost of the regeneration process.

"Salvaging operations have now begun and the Forest Products Commission (FPC) is exploring innovative options to ensure this valuable State resource is regenerated and the charred timber is used," Ms Davies said.

"Sawlog quality has now deteriorated to the point where domestic sales of higher value products are unlikely. In 2015, the commission conducted a tender process to identify new markets to use the damaged timber, however viable markets for the charred logs were not located at that time. 

"As a result, the commission will investigate salvage and regeneration methods and ways to minimise the cost of the regeneration processes. Some of the costs associated with replanting will then be offset by the sale of the low grade burnt timber to overseas energy markets."

The Minister said karri was easily damaged or destroyed by intense wildfires and the harvesting and regeneration of the severely fire-damaged forest was a responsible measure that would restore the long-term productivity of the forest. The trial would inform the development of strategies for regenerating forests after fires.

"Unless there is an active regeneration program, these areas will remain degraded and not productive for the foreseeable future," she said.

The timber being taken from the trial area is all being sourced from logs which have been destroyed or severely damaged by the fire and there is no other local options for their use.

The quantity of timber taken from the trial area is consistent with approvals provided by the Department of Parks and Wildlife as set out in the Forest Management Plan 2014-2023. Regeneration costs are also offset by the sale of charred wood to overseas markets.