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The purpose of this plan is to set out operating arrangements for the implementation of the Australian Government’s commitment in the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) to invest $2 million to research alternatives to clearfelling old growth forests in Tasmania.
TCFA commits the Australian and Tasmanian Governments to cooperate in a programme to facilitate a significant reduction in the use of clearfell harvesting in old growth forests. The aim is to phase in non-clearfelling techniques so that, by 2010, no more than 20% of the area of old growth forest harvested each year in Tasmania will be clearfelled, compared with 50% at present.
Clause 30 commits the governments to jointly fund a package of forest operations and management, industry development and research and development activities. Clause 76(i) commits the Australian Government to a contribution of $2 million towards research into alternatives to clearfelling. This supplements the $11.1 million being invested by Tasmania in further research and implementation, including training and support for harvesting contractors. From this $11.1m, Tasmania is contributing $0.4m to the segment of this
programme being jointly managed with the Australian Government. The joint investment will facilitate acceleration of the current research programme based at Warra in Southern Tasmania, and will enable its expansion into other forest types in other parts of the state.
This programme effectively complements separate TCFA investments in intensive forest management and hardwood industry development.
The objective of the programme is to identify, commission and report on research into and operational trials of alternatives to clearfelling old growth forests in Tasmania.
The desired outcomes of the programme are:
- Assurance that alternative silvicultural approaches in old growth forests are supported by sound science;
- A contribution to Forestry Tasmania’s capacity to meet TCFA’s target of capping clearfelling in old growth forests at 20% of the harvestable area by 2010;
- Help Forestry Tasmania to maintain industry access to a minimum sustainable yield of 300,000m3 per annum; and
- In so doing, help the industry to enhance the value of its outputs and maintain existing employment levels.
Direct outputs of the programme will include:
a) An accelerated research and field trials programme, including economic analysis (see
b) A communication strategy for consideration by Ministers;
c) Assistance to Forestry Tasmania in convening a panel of international experts in forest conservation and management;
d) An international conference as part of a review of the Warra-based research programme and recommendations on future directions;
e) Annual reporting to Ministers;
f) A review and formal evaluation of the programme and final report to Ministers;
In addition to the $2.4m provided for this programme of research and extension by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, Tasmania is investing a further $10.7m into a broad range of activities designed to develop and implement silvicultural improvements and to deal with OH&S and other operational issues. These activities will include
Operational extension of variable retention trials on State forest across Tasmania 2005-2010
Review of safety issues 2006
Workforce training 2006-2010
The project’s governance framework will be headed by a high-level, joint Australian and Tasmanian Government implementation committee (IC).
Dr Hans Drielsma, Executive General Manager, Forestry Tasmania
Mr Tony Bartlett, General Manager, Forest Industries, Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Australian Government
The IC has primary responsibility for developing this plan and annual progress reports for the consideration of Ministers. It will also oversee the work of the Technical Support Group, and manage the provision of information to stakeholders. The IC will also design, implement and report to Ministers on the final review and evaluation of the programme.
It is proposed that the IC be supported by a Technical Support Group as follows:
Mr John Hickey, Forestry Tasmania
Mr John Davidson, Bureau of Rural Sciences
Dr Steve Read, Forestry Tasmania
Mr Mark Neyland, Forestry Tasmania
The Technical Support Group will be responsible for:
- analysing and providing advice to the IC on research and extension outputs as they are finalised;
- supporting the review of the Warra research programme and helping to convene the 2007 International Conference for this purpose; and
- drafting annual activity reports for consideration by IC and provision to Ministers;
The IC will ensure that key stakeholders are kept informed of progress with this programme.
Key stakeholders include
- Forestry and Forest Industries Council of Tasmania;
- Timber Communities Australia;
- CRC for Sustainable Forest Landscapes; and
- Tasmanian Conservation Trust
The Implementation Committee will report to Ministers by 31 August 2006 on 2005-06 achievements and activities under the research and field trials programme or other activities. Subsequent reports to Ministers will be through overall TCFA Annual Reports on Implementation.
A representative of the Technical Support Group will provide updates on research and field trial projects to meetings of the IC.
Normal agency budget and operational reporting protocols will also be adhered to.
Budget and Expenditure
The Australian Government has allocated $2 million to the programme in 2005-06, with Tasmania adding $0.4million in 2006-07 from its overall budget of $11.1million.
The expenditure of these funds will be determined by the IC in accordance with the research plan.
It is proposed that the Australian Government’s contribution of $2 million be paid to Forestry Tasmania following the agreement by Ministers to this plan.
These funds will be acquitted as part of the annual reporting to Ministers.
An ongoing communications strategy for the project will be developed. Communication activities will focus on well timed and regular announcements of key milestones and outcomes as well as stakeholder communication and management. Key communication
opportunities and events may include:
- Ministers announce details of the initial plan, including the research and field trials
- Regular information sessions for identified key stakeholders;
- Ministers periodically announce progress with the programme;
- Ministers comment on outcomes from the International Conference/Review of the Warra Research;
- At the end of the programme, Ministers announce the results and any further steps in implementation.
Programme Activities and Milestones
Proposed milestones for the Alternatives to Clearfelling programme are:
|December 2005/January 2006||Payment to Forestry Tasmania of the Australian Government’s $2m contribution following approval of this plan by Ministers|
|January/February 2006||Commencement of the research and field trial programme;|
|February/May 2006||Appointment of a Panel of Experts by Forestry Tasmania|
|August 2006||Report to Ministers on 2005-06 achievements, including first acquittal of programme funds|
|September 2007||International conference to incorporate review and outcomes of the Warra-based research;|
|August 2007, 2008 and 2009||Annual reports and funds acquittals to Ministers|
|2009-10||Review and formal evaluation of programme and final report to Ministers|
Research fails to produce cost-effective alternatives.
Focus research on most practical options identified by FT research and operational experience to date, plus advice from the expert panel/international conference.
Skills shortages lead to delays in completion of programme
- Annual reports include forecast of possible impediments to achieving timelines;
- Organisations involved in the research will have sufficient skilled personnel.
Moderate to high
Lack of industry and stakeholder confidence regarding the likely achievement of programme goals
- Highest quality scientists engaged;
- Strong focus on operational trials involving skilled contractors;
- Maintain good information flow to industry and other stakeholders;
- Public annual reporting of progress
Plan of Research and Field Trials
Engage researcher in variable retention (VR) silviculture
Task would be to facilitate and monitor outcomes from operational VR coupes and facilitate the identification and development of best practices
Visit by operational expert in VR from Pacific North-West (ie Canada?)
Provide advice on best practice solutions from VR implementation in the Pacific North-West
Development of updated VR silviculture and thinning manuals
Involves a preliminary silviculture manual to guide harvesting and regeneration practices at initial trial sites. Progresses to final, comprehensive manual arising from experience during the program, to be accompanied by a revised thinning manual
Visit by key research/operational staff to VR management areas in Pacific North-West
Will enable access to best practice examples in :
- Planning, harvesting and site operation; and
- Biodiversity monitoring
Engage biodiversity researcher for VR-related issues
Will coordinate analyses of biodiversity responses to Warra trials and evaluate habitat in VR coupes for birds and hollow-dwelling mammals
Engage data manager for Warra site
Curate data for silvicultural systems trial, set up metadata base, facilitate data storage and retrieval
Complete 1- and 3-year post-harvest biodiversity assessments at Warra site
Assessing health and integrity of aggregates at age three*
Forest health surveillance to ground check aerial surveys
Assessing risk to landscape from incomplete burning of VR coupes*
Develop existing work and combine with Warra site data and experience from operational coupes
Assessing VR browsing risks*
Additional assessment work required
Evaluation of a range of trial sites*
Employment of a consultant for a detailed review and evaluation of these sites
Harvesting technology improvement
Review of technology improvements that may facilitate safe, cost effective VR harvesting
Timber yield modelling*
Will compare VR trial plot regrowth yields with those from “normal” silviculture regrowth
Long term soil impacts*
Aim is to compare 2001 and 2006 soil chemical and physical properties on the same clearfell site to determine whether lower intensity burning is warranted
Social and Economic
Economic evaluation of operational VR coupes*
Review of cost data, including unit costs to growers, contractors and processors, with net present value analyses
Implications of VR for the Leatherwood resource*
Research high value markets for old growth timber*
Social acceptability study
Social consultancy undertaken by University of Melbourne
Interpretation of the Warra trials
Social and Economic Budget
Review of Warra Research Program
Will include conference of internationally recognised experts in forest and conservation science
Warra Review Budget
OVERALL RESEARCH AND FIELD TRIALS BUDGET
* To be written up for September 2007 International Conference