A smoke management forum organised by the Forest and Forest Industry Council has been told a new strategy to manage smoke from regeneration and fuel reduction burns will be in force this year.
The Coordinated Smoke Management Strategy has been developed by the Forest Practices Authority, the Tasmanian Fire Service, the forest industry, the Environmental Protection Authority and Parks and Wildlife.
Under the strategy, upper limits will be placed on the amount of particulates that can be released into the state’s various airsheds. These limits will be adjusted daily using complex formulae based on meteorological data and a new fuel weight index.
In simple terms, these formulae will measure the capacity of the airsheds to disperse smoke on any given day.
The forum was told that land managers will need to advise an independent CSMS manager how many burns they intend and the amount of fuel that would be consumed.
The CSMS manager will then decide a limit on the amount that each land manager will be allowed to burn on a given day.
Forestry Tasmania fully supports the trialing of the new system and is confident that it will reduce the likelihood of smoke reaching nuisance levels in populated areas. However, all participants in the CSMS trial have acknowledged the new quota system will impose extra costs on regeneration and fuel reduction burning programmes and will probably result in fewer burns.
The forum also heard how Forestry Tasmania is exploring ways to retrieve waste wood after harvesting, for use in proposed bioenergy plants that produce renewable energy rather than burning all the waste in the open air.
Assistant General Manager Strategic Business Unit Michael Wood said bioenergy was well accepted in the most carbon conscious countries and jurisdictions around the world. Using wood waste to generate electricity has been used in many countries throughout North America and northern Europe for decades, as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.