Forest harvest prompts fire and safety warning

January marks the commencement of new contracts for harvest and haulage of plantation wood in the Bombala area and a key part of these agreements includes the provision of fire safety equipment, and safety planning for haulage routes.

Forests NSW regional manager Mark Chaplin said the harvesting and haulage of plantation timber recommences at full strength during early January, and he reminded the community to take care on forest roads.

The Monaro Region produces more than 620,000 tonnes of plantation wood each year and heavy vehicles will be more active in the region.

“The responsiveness and quality of local forest contractors has been impressive, with the ongoing investment in earthmoving and the recent arrival of some of the most modern forestry machinery in the industry,” Mr Chaplin said.

“In addition to protecting assets and local communities, this investment provides a continuation of work and economic stimulation in rural economies.”

With warm temperatures and fire conditions starting to pick up again across south-east NSW, Forests NSW is reminding visitors and the local community to take care in State forests.

“It is essential at this time of the year that forest visitors are well aware of fire conditions and do not start wild fires, so they can stay safe in the forests and also help protect a very valuable community asset,” Mr Chaplin said.

“Forests NSW has a system of early detection and quick response to bushfire outbreak and it’s most effective when assisted by reports from forest neighbours and the public.

“Fire detection infrastructure in south-east NSW includes fire towers manned by the Forests NSW and Department of Sustainability and Environment Victoria, aerial surveillance and forest industry personnel.”

He has urged the public to respond quickly and accurately to any signs of fire.

“All bushfires should be reported on the emergency 000 telephone number,” Mr Chaplin said.

“Forests NSW officers work closely with the Rural Fire Service and other fire authorities to act on reports of fire. The strong cross-border arrangements between NSW and Victorian authorities, also makes for an effective response to fire reports on both sides of the State border.”

He said a key strategy in addressing fire threat was the strategic use of contract aircraft.

“These resources are coordinated regularly between Forests NSW plantation areas across the State, based on prevailing fire threats. A helicopter will frequently be based at Bombala in the coming months to assist with surveillance and initial attack in the event of a fire starting,” Mr Chaplin said.

“Forest visitors are reminded to listen to the radio where possible for emergency updates, keep in touch with relatives, and adhere to forest signage regarding fire restrictions such as Solid Fuel Fire Bans, which are now in place.”