Australasian Timber

$15.1m deal to salvage KI timber

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Bushfire-damaged timber on Kangaroo Island suitable for housing will be sent to the mainland following a $15.1 million Federal Government investment.

The Federal Government has allocated $15m from the Forestry Salvage Transport Measure to New South Wales and Victorian projects following the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

However Kangaroo Island, where 80-90 per cent of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber’s trees valued in excess of $100 million and all of the island’s independen­t plantation­s were affected by fire, was left out of the funding.

South Australia’s Primary Industries Minister David Basham had been lobbying for the program to be extended to help SA.

The problems of moving the timber off the island were compounded by KIPT plans to build a jetty at Smith Bay being rejected this year by the State Government.

KIPT responded by announcing, it would convert its plantation­s to farmland and that if it couldn’t get the usable timber off the island it would be left with no other option other than burning it to reduce the fire hazard.

Around 300,000 tonnes of salvageabl­e pine will be transporte­d to the mainland via Penneshaw.

Mr Basham said it could take 3-5 years to ship the timber off the island.

The funding will support the transporta­tion of the softwood to mills with spare processing capacity however it is understood all of South Australia’s structural timber mills are operating at full capacity.

Australian Forest Products Associatio­n CEO Ross Hampton said that without the Government’s investment up to 10,000 house frames of timber would have had to be bulldozed and burnt.

“At a time when our builders and home owners are desperate for timber this would have been an extremely poor outcome,” he said.

“It is a great thing that that timber will be put to good use, however it can’t go unsaid that the Kangaroo island trees will not be replanted which means we are losing another 18,000 hectares from our national plantation estate.”

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