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Kangaroo Island Timbers begins trial burns

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has begun trial burns of its fire-damaged timber. It follows the company announcing it would convert its plantations to farmland after the South Australian Government refused its proposal for a deepwater port at Smith Bay on the island’s north coast to allow it to export the timber. Source: Timberbiz

The company has said that if it can’t get the usable timber off the island it will be left with no other option other than burning it to reduce the fire hazard.

SA Forest Products Association chief executive Nathan Paine said the wood burned on Wednesday was part of the one-third of plantation timber so badly fire damaged it had virtually no value.

The industry is seeking about $2m, joint funded by the State and Federal governments through the Commonwealth’s Forestry Transport Assistance program, which until now has been offered only to companies in NSW and Victoria, to help cover the cost of transporting about 300,000 tonnes of salvageable timber to the mainland.

“We can’t really wait any longer – we need to have some decisions being made now,” Mr Paine said.

“It’s not a substantial outlay – at the very least that would get a big chunk of the logs off the island.”

If extended to SA, the scheme could help subsidise the export of logs via Kingscote, American River or Penneshaw. It has been estimated KIPT is holding enough timber to build 10,000 houses and address the national timber shortage.

“The simple reality is they’re going to return that land to agricultural land and they’re going to want to do that as quickly as possible,” Mr Paine said.

State Primary Industries Minister David Basham has written to the Commonwealth asking it to extend its Forestry Transport Assistance program to SA.