Tuesday, 05 June 2018
FSC Australia visits one of Australia’s first FSC certified forest managers
Fourteen years ago Hancock Victorian Plantations become one of the first forest managers to gain FSC certification for one of their plantations.
Earlier this month, FSC Australia CEO Sara Gipton, and Membership and Trademarks Officer Tim Norman traveled to two of HVP’s active logging coupes in western Victoria.
They were able to see one of the country’s longest running responsible forest managers in action, as well as . Tim shared his reflections on the trip below.
We set off from Melbourne for HVP’s office in Churchill, Gippsland and then on to two active logging coupes. Our first stop was a pine plantation in steep country, where the plantation grew up steep slopes.
State of the art safety
At this coupe the logging contractors were using brand new, state of the art technology, the machines were so new, they had only been in the field for three weeks. They ensured that there were no workers in or around the felled trees which they picked up and dragged up the hill, to the processing site.
The high tech operation was far safer and more efficient compared to previously used techniques.
From the pine plantation we headed to a bluegum plantation, which was on far flatter country. In this logging operation the machinery used allowed the cutting and processing of logs all from one machine.
Turning trees into products we use everyday
We visited Australian Paper at Traralgon. Logs of certified HVP pine and bluegum are milled, pulped, recycled, and manufactured into certified paper products for well known brands found in most Australian homes and offices.
We later headed to a sawmill operated by Associated Kiln Driers (AKD) in Yarram where HVP trees are transformed into fencing and decking. Yarram is a relatively small-scale sawmill, but still turned over an impressive amount of timber, processing around 150,000 cubic metres of saw log.
Replanting, restarting the lifecycle
Replanting is a key part of responsible forestry. After experiencing a plantation in the logging phase on Day 1, we visited a site that was in the next phase, replanting. Replanting requires preparation, preparing a site for replanting includes maintaining roads; ensuring drainage channels are prepared to limit erosion whilst the site is most vulnerable; accounting for any High Conservation Values that may be present, and spraying for any invasive weeds that may opportunistically take over a barren site.
A high-tech start to life
At the HVP nursery at Gellinondale HVP prepare millions of seedlings for planting season. Later these tiny seedlings will be transported to HVP sites across Victoria for planting.
Gellinondale’s selective breeding program cross-pollinates trees to create the best genetic profile for plantations: resistance to disease,faster growing time, higher density etc.
The state of the art nursery performs experiments to make sure plantings have the best chance of success. This includes using pigs to eat a weed that generally out-competes the plantings without chemical spraying.
Small scale sustainable timber
Our final stop was the Gurney cidery, where the cellar door was crafted out of beautiful bluegum sleepers; a beautiful example of how good structural timber can look when used right.
The cidery had made a concerted effort to source everything locally, from the cider and food to the cellar door. The bluegum sleepers were sourced from a local farmer who runs a small-scale forestry plantation alongside livestock.
The farmer’s property was a great example of small scale plantation forestry in Australia. The visit provided a chance to speak about the challenges faced by agroforestry farmers when becoming FSC certified, as well as the benefits that would be available to farmers pursuing certification.