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Fires decimates forest industry.

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Fires decimates forest industry

AFFA03/018M 5 February 2003

The equivalent of 92 years of forestry logging allocation in Victoria has been destroyed in two weeks by the recent bushfires, with many other States facing similar losses.

Federal Forestry Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said that, according to figures from Victoria, more than 920,000 hectares of Victorian forests have been burnt since Christmas.

"Currently, loggers are allowed to harvest around 10,000 hectares a year in that State, so, to put the enormity of this loss into perspective, the fires have destroyed 92 times the total Victorian loggers allocation - or the equivalent of an annual harvest for the next 92 years," he said.

"Throughout the years, I have heard a lot of comment about the need to save trees from loggers, but have not heard the same passion from those people about the need to save trees from fires and mismanagement.

"Areas available for harvesting under the RFAs, signed by the Federal and State Governments, are well managed by State forest agencies.

"The management plans for those areas include the control of feral animals, fire management, weed management and the ongoing management of fire trails and tracks.

"But the propensity of State governments to create national parks for pre-poll political purposes, without providing proper resources to adequately look after them, must stop.

"In NSW, there are 516 parks and reserves; 237 of these require fire management plans and, to date, only 10 have been made public. (NSW argues that 15 plans are available).

"No amount of human intervention could have prevented the devastating events of recent weeks, but better management of national parks by the State governments could have lessened the impact."

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office Kelly Stevens 0405 191 732 or (02) 6277 7270