Outcome: Provide healthy forests for future generations
1. Quantity of native forest hardwood log timber harvested compared to the Forest Management Plan 2014-23 sustainable levels and targets
The Forest Management Plan (FMP) is developed by the DBCA and sets the annual average allowable cut of forest over a 10-year period. The FPC manages the level of harvest to ensure that it conforms with those limits. Note that this KPI is reported in calendar years, rather than financial years, consistent with the FMP.
The graph compares the quantity of first and second-grade sawlogs produced by the FPC compared with the allowable cut. The FPC produces a range of different sawlog products and calculates the proportion of first and second-grade material contained within these logs. The data does not include adjustments made by the DBCA for utilisation.
First and second-grade jarrah and karri sawlogs
Target: Native forest harvest level does not exceed the level prescribed in the FMP
In 2017, the production of both jarrah (81,451 m3) and karri sawlogs (34,111 m3) were respectively 10 per cent and 12 per cent lower than the previous year.
This was due to difficult market conditions that resulted in a reduced demand for sawlogs including the temporary closure of a major customer.
Other bole volume for jarrah, karri and marri
Target: Other bole volume harvest does not exceed the level prescribed in the FMP
The FMP has upper and lower limits for the average allowable cut of other bole volume logs. The FPC manages the level of harvest to ensure that it conforms with those limits.
Other bole volume is all material not assessed to be a sawlog as described in the FMP.
For 2017, the production of other bole volume products was 133,770 m3 for karri, an increase of 14 per cent on 2016, 190,313 m3 for jarrah, an increase of 25 per cent on 2016, and marri 14,346 m3. The increase for karri and jarrah on the previous year was due to increasing demand for a range of products, including the use of karri in the production of laminated veneer lumber and increased local use of jarrah.
Harvest of sandalwood does not exceed Order in Council
Target: Sandalwood harvest does not exceed the level prescribed in the Order in Council
The annual allowable harvest for green and dead sandalwood is set by the Sandalwood (Limitation on Removal of Sandalwood) Order (No.2) 2015 and is 1,250 tonnes per annum each of green and deadwood, of which 1,125 tonnes of each is licensed to the FPC. The graph below shows the quantity of green and dead sandalwood harvested in the last two years.
During 2017–2018, the FPC harvested 91 per cent of its green wood license under the Order in Council, or 1,023 tonnes. There were difficulties in accessing quantities of deadwood in the locations harvested resulting a drop in production to 690 tonnes.
This KPI has been expanded to include sandalwood and jarrah.
Target: 95 per cent of the area regenerated requires no remedial action
The FMP requires the FPC to closely monitor forest regeneration work and monitor seedling survival rates. The first year following planting is critical to long-term seedling survival. The chart below measures the percentage of the sampled regeneration that meets the stocking standard set out in the DBCA’s Silviculture Guideline For Karri 2014.
Over the last four years, no karri planted areas have required remedial treatment.
Target: Average 50,000 seedlings established annually
The current average seedling survival over seven years is 48,925 per annum. To ensure that the FPC remains on target, the seeding program for future years has been increased from 10 tonnes to 14 tonnes of seed planted.
During 2017-2018, a total of 1,036 kilometres of rip lines were sown with about four million sandalwood seeds, or 14.25 tonnes of seed.
Rainfall for the 2017 winter was very low across rangeland seeding operation areas. No areas seeded received the minimum rainfall required for effective germination. Additional seeds may germinate in subsequent years as seeds remain viable for several years in the soil. Monitoring will continue over the coming years.
Target: 90 per cent of the areas cutover for regeneration are completed within 30 months
Seventy-three per cent of areas cutover for regeneration over the 30-month period were completed. The shortfall was due to delays in completing the follow-up prescribed burning with the DBCA.
This KPI has been expanded to include softwood plantations and sandalwood plantations.
Thinning is important for forest health and productive future forests. Thinning helps protect catchments from the effects of climate change and reduces the impact of fire. The FMP requires thinning for forest health and to ensure future sustained yield. It is important to note that the FMP thinning schedules do not take into account existing or available markets.
The FPC does not receive any funding to undertake non-commercial thinning. Thinning is only carried out when markets are available for the products produced.
The graph below depicts the area of karri scheduled for thinning each year as prescribed by the FMP and the area actually thinned. The area actually thinned represents the economically viable areas that can be thinned. New markets need to be established to be able to achieve the targets set under the FMP.
Over the last four years, the area for karri thinning has increased. To ensure future areas scheduled for thinning are completed, the FPC is working with industry to create new markets for karri products from thinning operations.
Target: 95 per cent of softwood plantations are thinned within two years of the scheduled operation
Managing the density of the plantations provides for optimal growth and minimises the risk of damage from drought and wind.
Thinning is an ongoing process for the FPC but is limited to available markets for the products produced. The FPC is currently working through the backlog of thinning as market demand is strong.
Target: Plantations stocking is assessed and, if required, thinned by 14 years of age
The health of sandalwood plantations is adversely affected if they are overstocked with sandalwood, as this affects the health and vitality of the host species.
Assessment has now been completed on 100 per cent of FPC sandalwood plantations and a target thinning of 2,007 hectares across the estate has been set.
The FPC will commence thinning of these sandalwood plantations in the 2018-2019 financial year.
The FPC aims to achieve the following annualised thinning program over the next four years.
Target: 90 per cent of assessed roads compliant
Well-constructed roads are required for safe and efficient operations, as well as minimising environmental impacts.
During 2017-2018, the FPC prepared 65 new road alignments within forest operations. These roads were prepared in accordance with the FPC’s contractor roading procedures and compliance was monitored and assessed by the FPC. The six core elements used for assessment were:
- Clearing to the correct width as per the concept plan.
- Clearing to the right alignment.
- Ensuring that crowning elevation meets the defined specification.
- Carriage width as per specification.
- Sufficient off-shoot drains constructed and spaced as per specifications.
- Entry and exit points of pipes are clear.
In all elements checked across all new road alignments, the FPC was 100 per cent compliant.
Target: 100 per cent of pre-operation planning approvals completed and approved prior to commencement
Approval processes ensure that all social, environmental and heritage values have been assessed and appropriately managed.
During 2017-2018, 33 new forest operations commenced.
During 2016-2017, 27 new forest operations commenced.
For both years, the FPC was 100 per cent compliant. All forest operation approvals were granted by the DBCA before the start of forestry activities.
Target: The FPC maintains appropriate certification
Certification provides independent oversight of forest management systems and operations to internationally recognised standards.
The FPC was audited against the Environmental Management Standard (EMS) 14001 (2004) and the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) 4708 (2013) during 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
The FPC successfully maintained both independent certifications during 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
Target: 90 per cent of firebreaks adequate and trafficable
Fire represents a major threat to communities and forest assets.
The FPC is responsible for ensuring firebreak maintenance on over 600 forest blocks across the south-west of Western Australia. During 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, the FPC assessed compliance against two core elements of firebreak management. These were:
- Adequacy of firebreaks.
- Trafficability of firebreaks.
In 2017-2018, 493 assessments were completed and in 2016-2017, 102 assessments were completed. For the two compliance elements assessed, the FPC was compliant for 88 per cent of assessments in 2017-2018 and 85 per cent of assessments in 2016-2017.
Further investment in firebreaks is planned for 2018-2019 to improve their quality.
Target: 100 per cent of the target area of softwood plantation established
The replanting of harvested pine plantations (2R) and the establishment of new plantations are both critical to the achievement of the Softwood Industry Strategy for Western Australia to ensure the viability of the future softwood industry.
The replanting of harvested pine plantations is carried out during winter. Therefore, areas of establishment reported in the annual report are those established during the previous winter.
The replanting of pine plantations following clearfelling provides for the long-term sustainability of timber supplies.
During 2017-2018, 1,768 hectares of 2R replanting was achieved, which included some replanting for fire losses, and additional areas were planted at Yanchep for foraging habitat for cockatoos. The target below includes first rotation establishment (1R) and future years will have a separate target for 1R and 2R.
Comparative information was unavailable for the previous financial year.
Target: 95 per cent of land planned to be established each year to be planted subject to the availability of seedlings
To ensure the long-term viability of the industry, the Softwood Industry Strategy for Western Australia requires an increased plantation estate.
All areas acquired were planted in both 2016-2017, 475 hectares, and 2017-2018, 1,583 hectares.
Over the last two years, the FPC has expanded the size of the State’s plantation estate in line with the Softwood Industry Strategy for Western Australia.
These new first rotation plantings were primarily on land purchased over the last two years and are in addition to replanting recently harvested plantations.
The utilisation of lower-grade forest products is critical to ensuring that regeneration costs are minimised, fire hazards are reduced, and silvicultural objectives are met. Processing lower-grade wood in local markets has the additional benefit of strengthening regional economies and providing employment for local communities. This KPI reports on the proportion of low-grade products where further processing is undertaken in Western Australia.
There has not been any material change in the local market for lower-value native forest products over the previous two years. To undertake karri thinning, the FPC has remained reliant on export markets for woodchips that are used for paper production. Export of woodchips for energy production has also provided an opportunity to salvage and regenerate areas impacted by the Northcliffe fire.
Trends in the domestic use of low-value plantation products are impacted by a decline in the export of pine woodchips in 2017-2018 as a result of changes in contractual arrangements, and changes in the demand from the particleboard plant. There has not been any material change in the capacity of local markets to utilise these low-value products.
Note: No sandalwood products are considered low-value products.
Target: The FPC achieves a profit before abnormal accounting items, grants and subsidies from State Government and movements in biological asset valuations
The FPC has achieved positive operating profit results and exceeded budget in both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
This has been achieved primarily due to better than target results in the softwood business segment.