Forestry Industry Vital For Local Economy And Beyond

NSW Nationals

Photograph: Carlie Porteous (Executive Officer – Softwoods Working Group), Jake Lazarus (General Manager – Southern Cross Forests), Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke, Dallas Goldspink (Fibre and Forestry Manager – Visy), Dean Hawkins (GM – Fibre Resources), Jock Harris (Managing Director – High Country Logging).

Nationals Member for Cootamundra and Shadow Minister for Crown Lands Steph Cooke has visited the Tumut region to meet forestry industry stakeholders and discuss the progress being made as the region continues to recover from the Black Summer bushfires.

Ms Cooke said the Forestry Corporation of NSW manages 92,000 hectares of plantation in the Tumut Tumbarumba area. The region lost approximately one third of the plantation estate in the 2019-2020 fires.

“The damage was absolutely devastating so I was very keen to return and get an update on how the recovery is going,” Ms Cooke said.

“While there was a level of success in terms of salvaging trees following the fires, the planting program that’s been underway has certainly helped restore the area, with millions of trees planted as part of the recovery process.

“This program is nearing completion, but of course these things don’t happen overnight, given that a tree takes close to 30 years to grow to full sawlog production,” she said.

Ms Cooke toured High Country logging operations and was briefed on a first-thinning harvesting operation at Bondo State Forest.

She said it was heartening to see the vibrancy of the operations, given the industry contributes more than $2 billion to the local economy.

“Whether it’s the nurseries, the plantations, or the processors, the forestry industry is vitally important to this region,” Ms Cooke said.

“During my visit I saw first-hand the supply chain at work, from the plantations through to the harvesting and haulage operations, and then the processors,” she said.

Ms Cooke was also briefed on the use of camera technology to detect future fires.

“Early detection and rapid responses are vital in containing fires and preventing widespread damage to forestry assets,” Ms Cooke said.

“A.I. technology is being used to enhance the traditional fire detection process; it has the capability to pick up differences in the landscape, on a minute-to-minute basis, and alert emergency responders.

“Harnessing A.I. camera technology will not only help detect fires on the plantations themselves, but also fires on nearby properties on private land,” she said.

Ms Cooke said given its importance to the health and sustainability of the local economy, it is vital the forestry industry remains strong.

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