On Kangaroo Island where a third of the island was burnt, harvesting of plantation timber will begin early after almost 1900ha, or about 17% of the region’s biggest timber company’s holdings were affected by the fires. It was reported that lighting had set off a secondary fire in the Ravine de Casoars Wilderness Protection Area and headed north into the timber plantation burning 971 hectares. Two of the company’s plantations were affected. Source: Timberbiz
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers (KIPT) notified shareholders that the areas affected by fires which broke out on December 20 and December 30, were collectively insured for more than $20 million.
But KIPT director of community engagement Shauna Black on Monday said “much, much more” of the company’s landholdings had since gone up in flames but could not estimate the scale of the losses.
There was a three to four month wait for new fence posts on the island, Ms Black said, and the company was working on plans to fill that gap, to help locals who needed to secure properties.
“We’ve also opened up all of our plantations so people can access water from dams for stock and for firefighting,” Ms Black said. “We’ve told people they can go in there whenever they want on our plantations.”
KIPT company secretary Victoria Allinson said that as soon as the fireground is safe, the company will turn its attention to salvage operations, both for its own trees and those of independent growers.
“The salvage of pines and eucalypts that have been killed, but not consumed, by the rapidly moving fire front must be carried out immediately,” she said.
“Therefore, it will be necessary to bring forward harvest and replanting operations in affected areas and reschedule operations in unaffected areas that would otherwise have been harvested sooner.”
Three independent tree-growers were also affected by the fires. Again, both pine and eucalypt treecrops were damaged. KIPT has already spoken with them about the potential for salvage and replanting operations and will work closely with these growers to produce the best possible economic outcome.
The company says the fires will not impact upon its capacity to provide throughput for the proposed KI Seaport and chip handling facility at Smith Bay.
However, the company said that it could not wait until the wharf was complete to harvest the damaged trees as the unburned wood would be further compromised.
It is expected that the salvage operations will offer employment and economic benefits to the island and the company has asked local and state governments to enable interim export solutions to move the salvaged logs from the island.