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NSW puts $13M to work in protecting critical timber supplies

Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty in Murraguldrie State Forest.

The NSW Government has announced a $13 million forestry funding package to provide much needed protection of critical timber supplies in the Murray region in the lead up to the next bushfire season. Source: Timberbiz

This package will build a better resilience into this important regional industry. The measures will deliver fire prevention, detection and response works that have been developed following consultation with forestry industry groups and government agencies.

The NSW Government has a plan for developing regional NSW and a plan for delivering more housing. Protecting softwood forests and production is critical to delivering on both of those plans.

Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty made the funding announcement in the Murraguldrie State Forest, 60km from Wagga Wagga, with Independent Member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr and representatives of the NSW timber industry.

Feedback from industry highlighted three key focus areas to ensure the forestry sector is better prepared for the next bushfire season and the package delivers on these as follows:

  • Prevent bushfires occurring or spreading by constructing new and maintaining established strategic fire trails and asset protection zones.
  • Build rapid response capability and suppress fires and prevent their spread such as towers, remote sensing and camera technology to detect fires early.
  • Improve tactical and operational response with additional fire tankers, equipment and infrastructure.

This funding announcement puts the region in a much better position to focus on these preparedness measures.

During the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires, it is estimated up to 65,000 hectares of softwood plantation were affected across NSW representing around a quarter of the softwood resource state-wide.

“Sadly, the horrific memories of the Black Summer fires are still fresh in local memories and now is the time to do all we can to reduce the risk of a repeat,” Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr said.

“Our softwoods industries are crucial to the future of the entire region, and especially to the Snowy Valleys, so I applaud government and industry measures to prevent bushfires in the first place, and to improve response capabilities when fires do start.

“Thousands of jobs and many millions of dollars in economic activity depend on secure, stable softwoods supplies and I congratulate industry groups and the government for this important investment in protecting the industry’s future.”

Softwood plantation forestry in southern NSW injects some $3 billion in economic value annually and provides more than 11,000 jobs.

“The clearest message we have received from forestry industry representatives in the region is that all effort needs to be put into protecting the forests from bushfires. This package demonstrates how the Government is responding – get the job done and protect our forests and communities,” Minister Moriarty said.

“The NSW Government has made it clear we are focused on expanding plantation assets, and we are boosting protection of the existing and future plantation resources.

“I want to thank the Forest Industries Advisory Council, the Softwoods Working Group, the Australian Forest Products Association, Forestry Corporation and other NSW agencies and industry representatives for their input and efforts in this important area.”