Goal 1: Provide healthy forests for future generations

“We ensure that we uphold all principles of ecologically sustainable forest management; conserving biodiversity, ecological integrity and manage forests for the community to enjoy.”

 

Regeneration of native forests

Less than one per cent of Western Australia’s total forest area is available for harvest each year. We regenerate the forest after every harvesting operation to ensure healthy forests are available for future generations to enjoy.

During winter 2018, 285 hectares of karri forest were successfully regenerated following harvest. This included all areas harvested and requiring regeneration, and karri regrowth forest burnt in the 2015 Northcliffe fires.
Post-harvest regeneration burning was undertaken on 2,105 hectares of harvested jarrah forest in 2018.

Sandalwood regeneration remained a focus this year. We continued to undertake sandalwood regeneration trials aimed at improving regeneration in northern rainfall zones.

An expansion to our Operation Woylie program, which uses a mechanical seeder to mimic the role of the native woylie, enabled more than 1,400 kilometres of rip-lines to be seeded in the Rangelands.

We continued to complement this with hand-seeding in areas less accessible to the mechanical seeder. Aboriginal planters engaged through the Goldfields Land and Sea Council hand-seeded 670 kilograms of sandalwood seed in the Rangelands.

Sandalwood seeds were also sown on unallocated Crown land for conservation purposes to maintain a healthy sandalwood population. 

AFS certification for sandalwood

The FPC is seeking additional certification for its sandalwood operations. 

Currently our sandalwood operations are certified under the International standard ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System), however the FPC is in the process of investigating further independent verification of legal sources through the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification® (PEFC®) Chain of Custody of Forest Based Products (PEFC ST 2002:2013).

Photo caption: We are seeking additional certification for our sandalwood operations. Photo credit: Rachel Clarke.

Regenerate fire-damaged areas of karri and jarrah in collaboration with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

We regenerate karri and jarrah regrowth in State forest destroyed by fire to ensure these areas are returned to healthy, productive forests.  

We collaborated with DBCA to regenerate 160 hectares of fire-damaged karri forest in Northcliffe during winter 2018. We continued to salvage fire-damaged wood for use in renewable energy markets, which will allow us to regenerate a further 290 hectares of karri in 2019.

About 2,080 tonnes of jarrah bole log damaged in the 2015 Yarloop fire were salvaged in preparation for regeneration activities. Regeneration of this area will occur in winter 2020 to allow for more efficient site preparation operations. 

Fauna monitoring in the karri forest

We continued to survey karri forest harvest  coupes, for the presence of fauna and  introduced feral animals, using cameras  and indirect survey techniques. 

This program identified 21 different fauna species across six proposed harvest coupes. The program demonstrated that threatened species were using regenerated karri forest within 10 years of harvesting.
 
Feral animals were identified in five of the six proposed harvest coupes, including the presence of red deer in one. This is the first time red deer have been recorded in FPC fauna survey work. 

Baseline monitoring of an Eradicat trial in southern karri forests continued to record populations of feral cats and foxes. Baiting will occur following a larger Eradicat trial in jarrah forest so that learnings can be incorporated into the trial design where relevant.

Photo caption: Management actions are being taken to protect fauna such as the brushtail wallaby in our karri forests.

Promote pine plantations’ potential to play a key role in the Recovery Plans for black cockatoos


We continued to work collaboratively with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and DBCA to ensure that the post-pine management of the Gnangara, Pinjar and Yanchep plantations optimises groundwater recharge and food supply for the Carnaby’s cockatoo.

A study commissioned in 2017-2018 to help determine viable food sources for the Carnaby’s cockatoo was completed. Researchers from Murdoch University used GPS and satellite tracking to identify the flight movements of several Carnaby’s cockatoos across the Perth and Peel regions.

Through the birds’ flight patterns and daily distances covered, the research showed that vegetation patches and water sources need to be within certain distances from roost sites or from each other. The research will help identify suitable areas for rehabilitation and conservation within the Perth and Peel regions, particularly throughout the urban landscape.

Photo caption: Research into the flight movements of Carnaby’s cockatoos will help identify suitable areas for rehabilitation and conservation. Photo credit: Brad Barr.

Fire

Fire protection has continued to be a priority, with the expansion of our fleet of fire suppression vehicles and increased fire response training for staff.

The Balingup-Nannup wildfire in March 2019 highlighted the importance of continuing our focus on strengthening fire mitigation strategies.

New strategies, such as tactical deployment of suppression resources on days of elevated fire danger and adopting alternative plantation designs, are being explored. The FPC is committed to meaningful and constructive engagement with our stakeholders, and relevant stakeholders and neighbours will be consulted on any potential changes to plantation design.

We also purchased an additional heavy-duty, 3,400-litre fire truck to build internal capacity to contribute to our effective response to fires threatening FPC freehold estate and sharefarm plantations in the South West region, while also increasing our ability to assist with joint agency emergency response efforts where required.

A full-time Fire Protection Manager was appointed to assist with developing fire management policy and procedures, manage working arrangements with DBCA, and liaise with local government and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) on fire management issues. 

More than one quarter of our permanent and fixed term employees participated in joint agency emergency response arrangements. Our staff fulfil key operational and support roles in bushfire incident management structures and provide an important contribution to the protection of life and property.

Photo caption: The purchase of an additional heavy-duty, 3,400-litre fire truck has increased our capacity to contribute to effective bushfire response in the South West.

Ensure Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s Bushfire Risk Management Process captures plantation assets

A dedicated Fire Protection Manager was appointed this year to ensure our plantation assets are included in bushfire risk management planning.

We continued discussions with bushfire mitigation officers from DFES and local governments across the South West, as more Bushfire Risk Mitigation Plans are developed to communicate the value of Western Australia’s plantations and the importance of protecting them.

Photo caption: Our Stakeholder Engagement Strategy guided our work with stakeholders following the Balingup-Nannup fire.

Reduce the threat to FPC’s pine plantations through an active program of fuel hazard reduction

As part of measures to mitigate fire risk to our pine plantations, we worked with DBCA to complete approximately 6,000 hectares of fuel reduction burning in the South West during 2018-2019. 

A new metric was developed to streamline the process of identifying the FPC’s highest value plantations and report on the age of fuel in areas surrounding those plantations. The information from this report was used to direct DBCA’s fuel reduction burning effort towards the protection of those plantations with the highest value. This metric has made a significant improvement in how we coordinate fuel reduction burns.

Photo caption: The Balingup-Nannup wildfire in March 2019 highlighted the importance of continuing our focus on strengthening fire mitigation strategies. Photo credit: Energy Images.

Forest Management Plan

The CPC released its mid-term performance review of their Forest Management Plan 2014-2023 (FMP), which took into account submissions received during a six-week public comment period.

The FMP, prepared by the CPC, is Western Australia’s key framework for managing South West forests on public land.

The mid-term performance review assessed the implementation of the FMP’s management activities developed to achieve ecologically sustainable forest management outcomes for forests in the South West.

It found the vast majority of the FPC’s performance targets were achieved or largely met.

The management activities undertaken by DBCA and the FPC were acknowledged for achieving this result despite challenging climatic and economic conditions over the first five years of this FMP.

The FPC will be working with DBCA to address the recommendations provided by the review.

The review can be downloaded from the Conservation and Parks Commission website.

Photo caption: Western Australia’s State forests are sustainably managed under the Forest Management Plan 2014-2023.

Deliver extension to Regional Forest Agreement with the Commonwealth Government

This year, the Australian and Western Australian governments agreed to a 20-year rolling extension of the Regional Forest Agreement for the South West region of Western Australia (WA RFA).

The WA RFA provides for the sustainable management of the State’s multi-use forests and plantations, and for a long-term sustainable native forestry industry.

It recognises that the State’s forest management system and processes are based on the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management, and are sufficiently robust to ensure the environmental values of Western Australian forests are protected for future generations. 

We worked closely with DBCA and the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to develop a variation to the existing WA RFA, which addresses recommended improvements to communication and reporting, and ensures ongoing improvements to the forest management system.

Going forward, the FPC will assist with the required five-yearly progress reporting on the performance of the agreement, ensuring the WA RFA remains a strong and effective framework.

Increase area of jarrah forest harvested for regeneration release

Every tree in a forest competes for sunlight, water and nutrients, and selective harvesting for regeneration release creates better conditions for jarrah seedlings to develop.

Increased demand for residue products this year enabled 190 hectares of jarrah forest to be treated for regeneration release without the need to apply non-commercial treatments post-harvest. This harvest provides for commercial removal of low-value products by removing more of the forest canopy and increasing access to sunlight, allowing the established jarrah lignotubers on the ground to grow.