Looking Ahead

Now that the chapter has been closed on 2020, those within industry will no doubt be looking ahead to what the next 12 months has in store.

The Australian Arbor Age is likewise gearing up to cover a range of topics in the forestry industry in 2021, including news from around the country and the world, along with equipment reviews and new equipment releases.

We’ve well and truly got the ball rolling in this issue, taking a look at a mechanical forest planting trial recently completed by Forestry Corporation of NSW, in partnership with All Above Reforestation Australia, carried out in the Nundle area and undertaken using equipment manufactured by Risutec in Finland.

Forestry Corporation Manager of Innovation and Research Mike Sutton notes that mechanical planting has the potential to address the extra workload that lies ahead in replanting burnt forests, while maintaining a safe workplace, describing the trial as “a great opportunity to advance the forestry industry’s knowledge in this area”.

Delving into equipment designed to get the job done, we also have an overview of the Rayco C200 forestry mower, which respectively measures and weighs in at a size and weight that allows for easy transportation to and from jobs, along with the TMK Tree Shear line and a new range of attachments.

In addition to this, we’ve taken a look at Volvo’s new E-Series range, including compact, wheeled and crawler excavators, which are decked out to deliver versatility, and John Deere’s G-Series forestry swing machines, capable of being configured as harvesters, processors and log loaders, and designed to be put to use across a range of applications.

Forestry Recovery Development Fund grants awarded
The federal government has advised that there have been 14 successful applicants for its Forestry Recovery Development Fund, delivering $40 million in grant funding to help the forestry industry recover from the previous summer’s bushfires.

The grants, which range between $1 million and $5 million, were delivered through a competitive grants process, with the government advising that funding for projects is to be provided until June 30, 2023. Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton noted, after the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 in 2020, that “the Black Summer bushfires probably feel a lifetime back for many”.

“The sad reality for forest industries, however, is the devastating effects of that fire season are really only starting to be fully felt now,” he commented. “Harvesting crews have been working around the clock for months as we have sought to use up as much of the fire-damaged plantation timber as possible. However, that opportunity is quickly running out.

“Many of the grants the government has announced will assist forestry businesses retool and restructure to manage the different resource profile we will confront in the coming years. Other projects will help us retrieve more value from salvaged or smaller hardwood logs.”

Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub releases plantation forestry report
The Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH) has released an EY report which it states shows plantation forestry participation in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) in south-west Victoria will not see a rapid expansion of plantation estate, however will support the state’s emission reduction goals. The GTFIH stated that the Capturing the full benefits of plantation forestry in the Green Triangle report highlights that, even with carbon payments under the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, existing investment constraints (typically high agricultural land prices and processing facility proximity) will hinder expansion.

As advised by the GTFIH, the Victorian side of the Green Triangle is not currently included in the CFI, with the GTFIH’s strategic plan having identified carbon payments as an enabler for future investment.

“Forestry in south-west Victoria can only compete for land at the margin with profitability remaining low,” GTFIH Chair Ian McDonnell commented.

“It is predicted that just over 4,000 hectares of new plantation will be established in the region over the next 30 years – that is 0.2% of the total available land.” McDonnell noted that the study shows that to deliver a positive return for investors the carbon price would need to climb above $25/tCo2e.

“Adding to this, the state’s water management plans provide fair and equitable use of the resource for all primary industries, meaning carbon payments will not be a major catalyst for new plantation growth in the region,” he commented.

“Taking this into account, forest plantation will remain unviable, with a risk of divestment or relocation to other high rainfall regions.”

McDonnell pointed to the Green Triangle’s target of expanding the plantation estate by 200 million trees over the next decade, and “utilising every part of every tree” harvested.

“Victoria will play a valuable contribution in this goal, using sustainable land use practices to protect our renewable water resource as we identify strategies to unlock new investment and collaborate with other land managers, such as dryland farmers and the dairy sector,” he said.

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