Fire-affected forests will soon be rejuvenated with new life as the NSW Government embarks on the largest replanting program in the state’s history, beginning with an injection of $46 million into Forestry Corporation.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Forestry John Barilaro visited Blowering Nursery in Tumut this week to kick off the seedling season and said more than 10 million new shoots would be planted over the next 12 months across NSW.
“The forestry industry was devastated by an unprecedented bushfire season, with more than 50,000 hectares, or around 25 per cent of the state’s pine plantations burnt,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Tumut was one of the worst hit areas, losing around 35 per cent of its state-owned plantation so I’m thrilled to see the first round of replanting efforts are getting underway.
“Thanks to the $46 million stimulus funding we are able to give the replanting efforts a real kick-start, with more than 14.5 million trees to be replanted yearly across the State from 2021, a massive 40 per cent increase on 2019 plantings.
“This investment will see us get back to pre-bushfire levels of stocked trees in state-owned pine plantations within a decade.”
Mr Barilaro also emphasised the funding injection for regrowing state forests highlights the sustainable nature of the forestry industry.
“Wood is the ultimate renewable product. When forests are managed sustainably and regrown time and again, they deliver a vast range of benefits for our communities, including carbon storage,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and when they are harvested and regrown, carbon is stored in both the products made from timber, like house frames, as well as in the new crop of trees growing within the forest.”
The stimulus funding will also support new contracts and job opportunities and rebuild lost infrastructure.
“NSW’s forestry industry supports around 23,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs and they’ve had a really tough start to the year, so we are showing our support by ramping-up our efforts to get the industry back on track,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Nurseries at Grafton and Blowering near Tumut will be expanded thanks to the funding boost, and we will be able to start rebuilding or replacing some of the high-priority vital infrastructure, including public roads, damaged in our state forests during the fires.”
Forestry Corporation of NSW provides about 25 per cent of the timber needed for housing construction across the country, as well as a significant proportion of the fibre used for food packaging, including cardboard.
Additional support for the NSW forestry industry has also be made available through the $140 million bushfire recovery package announced last month by the NSW Government.
Forestry Corporation Regional Manager Dean Anderson said Forestry was now lifting the seedlings and replanting on burnt country, and that the state government was committing to the long-term future of the industry in the region.
“The nursery’s capacity will expand by approximately 20 per cent,” he said.
“The first seedlings of this year are on the way out, going into burnt country. They will join seedlings from Grafton and a third party contract to total 10 million seedlings.”
It is expected that next year Blowering’s production will increase from 7.5 million to 9 million seedlings. They are hoping to make up for the losses from the January bushfires in a decade.
Wagga Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr said the announcement was a real vote of confidence in the industry and important for the region.