Major tree planting program a boost for Avon Region

6 September 2005

Nearly 2000 hectares of trees are proposed to be planted in the Avon Region by the end of 2008 under a joint WA Government/Commonwealth program to combat salinity.
The Avon will receive nearly 11 per cent share of a $64 million funding package for Strategic Tree Farming in WA as part of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.
WA’s Forest Products Commission (FPC) struck a unanimous agreement over the indicative funding split with the Chairs of four regions at a recent meeting.
Under the agreement, subject to suitable land availability, the Avon Region will plant an estimated 1900 hectares, the Northern Agricultural 4500 hectares (25 per cent of the total), the South West 4700 hectares (26 per cent) and the South Coast Region 6900 hectares (38 per cent).
Forestry Minister Kim Chance applauded the decision and said the program would ramp-up over the next three years.
“Final funding will depend on regions attracting landowners to the program through a combination of up-front payments and profit sharing,” he said.
“These trees are truly sustainable as they will deliver environmental, economic and social benefits across the State. They will help control salinity, develop industries based on tree farming and support rural communities by slowing degradation of farming land and providing a new source of jobs.”
The program is linked to the Forest Products Commission’s Tree Farming and Industry Development Plans that are being opened to public comment (available at www.fpc.wa.gov.au). The plans outline how plantings will be in “cells” to develop a “critical mass” of trees able to support various processing industries.
Tree farming will be performed in concert with other forms of farming.
FPC Sustainable Landscapes Manager Ian Herford said a combination of eucalypts, maritime pine and Western Australian sandalwood will be used.
“We will be working closely with the regions to ensure maximum planting,” Mr Herford said.
About 10 per cent have already been planted, 20 per cent will be planted next year, 30 per cent in 2007 and 40 per cent in 2008.
Mr Herford said the Avon had been allocated the smallest area of the four regions because the trees would grow only in the lower reaches of the Avon catchment.
The Avon Catchment Council (ACC), which negotiated the agreement with FPC, is looking forward to the implementation phase.
“We’re really pleased with the amount of funding allocated to us,” said ACC’s Acting Program Manager, Don Cummins. “We think the figures are achievable and are working with FPC to identify priority planting areas.
"The plantings will help achieve our goal of establishing more trees in the landscape providing salinity management, giving farmers more commercial options and leading to the establishment of new industries.
"One of our key priorities is to expand our fledgling Sandalwood industry into lower rainfall areas and the spin off from this program will help that happen."
MEDIA CONTACTS
Sandy Gater FPC A/Corporate Communications Manager (08) 9475 8882
Ian Herford (FPC): (08) 9845 5630
Don Cummins (ACC): (08) 9690 2250