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SA community rallies around forestry

The Jamestown and Wirrabara communities are joining forces to advise the State Government on its approach to the Mid North forestry. Source: The Flinders News

Community members have formed the Northern Forests Community Initiatives Working Group to strategically research and develop recommendations for the Bundaleer and Wirrabara forests to take to the government.

Locals formed the group in response to a call from Forestry Minister Leon Bignell for local community input on the future of forests following the devastating Bundaleer and Bangor fires.

“Our group aims to provide community input in a thoroughly researched and well documented way,” said group chairman Greg Boston.

“It is imperative that we respond with a proactive, united voice.”

Mr Boston said a priority for the group was replanting and ensuring commercial forestry is a viable industry for the region. Another priority was making safe the use of areas of the forests by the community.

“We are in the process of creating a landscape plan which details the areas of forest that need to be replanted and outlines options for the community use areas and areas not suitable for pine plantations,” he said.

“Only the most productive areas for commercial forestry will be put forward for re-planting.

“However, at this stage we are still waiting on ForestrySA to provide site quality maps of the forest areas with growth data and other integral information regarding the status of the forests following fire damage.”

It is expected the maps will be made available this month.

Mr Boston said the group was also researching and compiling the local community’s ideas and thoughts regarding the future of the picnic grounds, walking trails, broad-acre grazing areas, heritage buildings, orchards and vineyards.

Group members include Anne Brown, Jackie O’Reilly, Paul Kretschmer and Kevin Sizer from Wirrabara and local sawmill operator Ed Morgan, Simon Seppelt, Tracey Dewell, James Lang and John Malone from Jamestown.

Community members are encouraged to keep providing feedback.

When Forestry Minister Bignell was asked about whether he supported the establishment of the community group, Mr Bignell said it was exactly what he had hoped to see.

“At the large public meeting I convened in Jamestown on October 22, this is exactly the sort of reaction I was looking for when I called on people to be proactive,” he said.

“The government doesn’t have all the answers regarding the future of the region and I welcome the establishment of the local community group which will help form options for use of the forest lands.

“The people with the best ideas are the locals who live in the area and know the land intimately.

“What the future looks like is largely the responsibility of local people and I urge everyone to speak up now. It can’t be all about forestry, the region needs a diversified economy not one that is largely dependent on one primary industry but a multitude of industries and businesses.”

Mr Bignell also said he was continuing to work with sawmill operators the Morgans on how their business could be adapted to changes.