During the 2009 bushfires, a huge log dump near Marysville was destroyed by fire. Michael Ryan from VicForests stated that 50,000 tonnes of pulpwood had been destroyed – around 10% of the total annual production of pulp logs for this area. The log dump was located near Marysville surrounded by tinder dry forest. Photographs of the log dump taken before the fires by Peter Halasz show the enormous size of this stockpile.
The strategic importance of this log dump to VicForests’ operations was disclosed recently by Nathan Trushell, VicForests’ Director of Strategy & Corporate Affairs who stated that log dumps like that at Marysville were essential “to provide continuity of supply in the winter to our customers and minimise the environmental impact of winter harvesting in the Central Highlands”.
With the loss of the Marysville dump, VicForests faced the prospect of being unable to supply logs to customers over winter. The scale of VicForests’ desperate salvage logging is partly explained by their need to quickly rebuild these lost timber stocks. Michael Ryan said that one of the key priorities of the salvage logging operation was to make sure the fires had minimal impact on existing contractual commitments to VicForests’ customers and contractors.
Michael Ryan stated that the value of the timber lost on the fires was around $2 million and this was the amount VicForests wrote off in last year’s Annual Report. However, in this year’s report, VicForests changed the write-off amount to only $1.3 million, and have so far failed to provide an explanation for the large change.
Experts like David Lindenmeyer have made it quite clear that in this rush to secure logs, environmental regulations have been ignored and endangered species like the Leadbeaters Possum have been placed at greater risk of extinction by the salvage logging operations.