“We ensure that we uphold all principles of ecologically sustainable forest management; conserving biodiversity, ecological integrity and manage forests for the community to enjoy.”
During winter 2017, about 338 hectares of karri
forest was successfully regenerated following harvest. This included all areas harvested and requiring regeneration, and karri regrowth forest destroyed in the 2015 Northcliffe fires.
Post-harvest regeneration burning was undertaken on about 4,553 hectares of harvested jarrah forest, an increase of 2,403 hectares on last year. The increase was achieved due to better weather conditions which provided more days suitable for regeneration burning to occur.
Regenerating sandalwood in the Rangelands remained a key focus for the FPC. In 2017-2018, Operation Woylie, our sandalwood regeneration program which uses a mechanical seeder to mimic the role of the native woylie, seeded almost 1,000 kilometres of rip-lines, planting more than 14 tonnes of sandalwood seed. It has resulted in the sowing of about five million seeds.
This project is complemented with hand-seeding at selected sites and will continue as a way to supplement the mechanical seeder in sensitive areas. Aboriginal planters were responsible for hand-sowing about 390 kilograms of sandalwood seed in the Rangelands.
We continued sowing seeds on unallocated Crown land for conservation purposes to maintain a healthy sandalwood population.
Photo: We have been working with indigenous rangers in the Goldfields to hand-seed sandalwood as part of our regeneration program which has seen us sow 390 kilograms of seed this year.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 has provided us a framework for a new, contemporary approach to the management of the Western Australian sandalwood industry.
We provided funding to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to develop a Biodiversity Management Programme to set the overall direction for the conservation, protection, management and use of wild Western Australian sandalwood under the new Act. It will be prepared under Part 5 of the Act and will use the Montreal Process framework for ecologically sustainable forest management.
We continued to regenerate young karri regrowth in State forest destroyed in the Northcliffe fire.
Without our intervention this forest would never have regenerated into a productive forest following the 2015 fires.
The regeneration process involved recovering fire-damaged trees before site preparation, prescribed burning of debris and replanting the area with nursery-raised karri seedlings.
During 2017, further recovery occurred in the fire-damaged karri regrowth, producing biomass for use in renewable energy markets. The revenue generated from the recovered material will enable us to regenerate approximately 155 hectares in the 2018 winter and a further 45 hectares in 2019.
A tender was awarded by the FPC during 2017, which will provide for the potential to recover up to another 2,000 hectares of the Northcliffe fire-killed karri regrowth. This is planned to occur over the next three to four years and, if implemented, will see all of the worst fire-affected karri regrowth receiving regeneration treatment.
Photo: Planters use a tool known as a pottiputki to plant the seedlings by hand.
We work in close cooperation with the DBCA, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and private forest management companies to plan and deliver fire mitigation measures designed to protect Western Australia’s productive forests.
About 50 of our staff participated in joint agency emergency response arrangements. Our staff fulfil key operational and support roles in bushfire incident management structures and provide an important contribution to the protection of life and property.
All FPC staff involved in wildfire management complete an annual training program through the DBCA’s Fire Management Services Branch which incorporates fitness and competency testing.
Wildfire management activities include fuel reduction burning, construction and maintenance of fire breaks, and firefighting water supplies. A high priority has been placed on measures to reduce the fire risk to the plantations.
Fire is also an important silvicultural tool employed in the regeneration of native jarrah forests. FPC staff provide regular support to the DBCA’s regeneration burning planning process to ensure that silvicultural priorities and objectives are recognised and actioned appropriately.
Photo: Pine trees burnt in the 2018 Mundaring bushfire did not go to waste and we were able to recover laminated veneer lumber logs for customers and supply residue for biomass.
We were an active participant on the State Bushfire Coordinating Committee.
It was created as a result of a recommendation from the Ferguson Bushfire Report and was charged with responsibility for developing State bushfire management policy. This committee finished in May 2018 and will be replaced with a State Bushfire Advisory Committee.
We implemented and monitored forest management activities under the requirements of the FMP.
Careful monitoring of the outcomes of our activities was undertaken in collaboration with the DBCA.
During the year, we continued to collate information for the mid-term performance review of the FMP. This process is a requirement of the FMP and will report against the 24 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) prepared to track the plan’s implementation.
The draft mid-term performance review will be released by the Conservation and Parks Commission for public consultation in the next
Fauna monitoring has found that threatened species were repopulating karri forests after harvesting.
Management actions taken to protect threatened species included protection of habitat along streamlines, post-harvest predator control and retention of critical habitat elements, such as feeding and nesting trees for cockatoos.
An outcome of the monitoring project has been to highlight the impact of feral cats in the southern karri forests, which has led to our support of an Eradicat trial with the DBCA.
Baseline data on cat population numbers in the selected trial areas was captured during 2017-2018 and baiting will begin in the trial area in 2018-2019.
Photo: Management actions are being taken to protect fauna such as the brushtail wallaby in our karri forests.