Plantations and bushfires considered in Liberal forest policy

Plantations and bushfires considered in Liberal forest policy

19 November 2007

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Australia — The Federal Government has allocated $15 million for bushfire mitigation strategies as part of its forest policy.

Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz says the money will be used to improve forest management practices and minimise the risk of large scale bushfires.

He says there will be more fuel-reduction burns in forests and the Government will work with states to maintain access through fire trails.

Senator Abetz says last summer one million hectares of forest was destroyed in bushfires across Australia, pumping 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“Which relates to about eight million cars or 25 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse targets, so it’s a sizeable sum,” he said.

“So if you’re concerned about CO2, if you’re concerned about water, if you’re concerned about wildlife it makes very good sense that we do bushfire mitigation a lot better than we have over the last couple of decades.”

The Government has also pledged $750,000 to establish an accreditation scheme for plantation developers, covering issues such as site selection and the impact on water availablility.

Senator Abetz says it is important community concerns about plantations are addressed.

“What we want to do is get a better relationship where plantations are actually going in, so that some of the community concerns can be overcome,” he said.

“Some of the things we’re looking at is talking to communities, looking at the type of trees that will be planted, the water uptake those sorts of things.”

Senator Abetz says the Liberals are committed to the regional forest agreement and there will be no further forest lockups.

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