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Softwoods group wants stronger government and private forests bushfire partnerships

The Softwoods Working Group has called for a greater partnership between the government and private forestry plantations when it comes to bushfires. Peter Crowe, chairman of the Softwoods Working Group, said a greater partnership would have great benefits. Source: Timberbiz

The NSW Bushfire Inquiry made 76 recommendations to the state government for future fire mitigation and management, including the recommendation to align private and public firefighting brigades.

“We welcome the recommendation to incorporate private forestry companies in as bushfire brigades,” Mr Crowe said.

“Companies like Hume Forests, for example, who have very significant resources of highly trained and skilled personnel and significant resources of light and heavy plant.

“Their inclusion into the brigade system would be most welcomed by SWG. We need to have groups such as Hume Forests accepted as one of the significant agencies to operate inside the current legislation.”

Mr Crowe said that by bringing private companies closer to the fire management system, the operational capacity of firefighting in the region would improve ‘right across the board.’

“It’ll help coordinate fire fight, fuel reduction, detection, response and suppression operations,” he said.

The SWG welcomed all the findings, saying they would assist with future protection for plantations and neighbours of the plantations, including nearby farmers and national parks.

“As everybody would be aware, our high catchments have been severely burnt over the last 20 years,” said Mr Crowe. “Anything we can do to protect those catchments – to mitigate damage from soil erosion, water pollution and damage to aquatic flora and fauna as well as the land based flora and fauna – will be most welcome.

“It’s basically time to have a fundamental rethink about how we go about all this and we’re pleased to see the RFS is taking some strong steps to deal with this matter.”