The following is a summary of our Plantation Management Plan, the current version can be found on our Publications page.
Albany Plantation Forest Company Ltd (APFL) is the Responsible Entity for the establishment, maintenance and harvest of Eucalyptus globulus plantations for the production for woodchips to be processed into wood fibre for paper manufacture.
Our Plantation Management Plan covers all of our plantations that are established in the Lower Great Southern region of Western Australia together with the Remnant Native Vegetation (RNV) that we have management responsibility for. RNV is the remaining native vegetation on land within the boundaries of properties that we manage and which is protected and managed by us.
The plantation forest estate also includes other land categories including roads, firebreaks, homestead sites and other infrastructure.
We manage detailed information about our plantation forest estate, individual properties and plantations, through our Geographic Information System (GIS) and through other internal and risk management systems.
We review our Plantation Management Plan in the last quarter of every year to update our objectives and procedures, any statistical information and any changes to incorporate recent plantings or replacement crops.
We conduct individual property inspections to compile operational schedules to ensure that all management actions are planned to reflect site specific needs.
The management of a plantation includes everything from an assessment of the land for suitability and covers all activities from establishment to harvest then re-establishment of reversion to agricultural land as the case may require.
Our overall management objectives are:
- To establish an initial Eucalyptus globulus plantation forest estate of 20,000ha over a period of ten years within an economic haulage distance of Albany Port.
- To manage the estate on a ten year rotation cycle and to conserve and restore representative samples of Remnant Native Vegetation (RNV) within the estate.
- To maintain all plantings in a safe and healthy condition, free of damaging agents and sufficiently vigorous to make a commercial return.
- To commence harvest in 2001 and to produce 400,000 GMT logs per annum for processing into woodchips by APEC. Logs are supplied from APFL to APEC and also from other growers in the region,
- To transport woodchips by rail to the Port of Albany for ship loading by Albany Bulk Handling (ABH) and export by APEC.
- To regenerate harvested plantation areas, by coppice or replanting, for second rotation crops
Plantation Silviculture and Operational Prescriptions
Plantation silviculture refers to the scientific and technical practices of how we grow and cultivate our trees. It begins with initial site assessment where site productivity is assessed and appropriate genetic material is recommended.
Establishment and ongoing maintenance operations follow the Code of Practice for Timber Plantations in Western Australia and we have a suite of operational prescriptions that specify in more detail how each activity is implemented. These include such things as the use of chemicals, occupational health and safety, fire management and so on.
Plantations are expected to reach maturity at between eight and twelve years when they will be clear-felled and suitability for a second coppice rotation assessed.
Growth and Yield
Our plantation inventory, growth modelling and yield projections are based on both permanent and temporary sample plots. Plot data is applied to plantation strata ("uniform stands"), determined through random positioning, across the properties.
Our harvest plan covers 20 years and is based on conservative volume projections, regularly reviewed as the inventory data is updated.
A forward Harvest Schedule is prepared covering 2 years of operations and follows a clear-fall prescription and which generally operates in successive establishment years as they reach rotation age.
Our planning for harvest takes into account the usual variables of planting year areas, growth rates, seasonality of properties, access routes and distance from processing facilities aimed at smoothing the harvest rates across planting years to meet our annual market targets.
In growing our plantations the environmental impacts are also identified and assessed through our Risk Management System that follows the principles of the international standard for environmental management, ISO 14001. In accordance with this standard, environmental risk assessment is based on identification and then ranking for significance (likelihood of occurrence) against severity (adverse effect), after which mitigation plans are applied to establish any significant remnant risks. Specific operational objectives and procedures for all significant remnant environmental risks are then put in place.
An example of a significant risk is fire and so we have specific plans and emergency procedures in place within individual Fire Management Plans which are prepared for each property and lodged with local government authorities.
Remnant Native Vegetation
Properties owned and leased by APFL are registered under the Land for Wildlife program of the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW).
Through Land for Wildlife DPAW identifies areas of RNV suitable to be managed for their natural values and advises on the best opportunities to enhance indigenous wildlife including providing expert recommendations for ongoing management.
We use the Land for Wildlife reports and recommendations to prepare individual management plans for the RNV of each property and implement these, including monitoring the progress on the objectives contained in them.
High Conservation Value Forests
We recognise the importance of protecting HCVF and undertake ongoing stakeholder consultation to determine local HCVF and develop procedures for their identification, assessment and protection. We will continue to liaise with key stakeholders and seek input to ensure that the development of these management guidelines meets community expectations.
Water quality and availability is a major national issue and there is community expectation that land managers are aware of the impacts their activities might have.
We are sensitive to these concerns and so in 2007 we commenced a long term monitoring program through engagement with the University of WA's Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, using cutting edge monitoring techniques in a chosen representative catchment. The annual results of this monitoring are made available through Publications page.
Land Use, Ownership, Adjacent Lands & Community Relations
The majority of land used for plantation establishment is agricultural land which is either owned outright by APFL or leased from individual landowners under commercial agreements.
Tree plantations are one of many rural land uses in the Great Southern Region and so our plantations are mostly surrounded by other rural land supporting a variety of rural enterprise. Our plantation forest estate comprises less than 1% of the total area in the Great Southern Region.
Our policy in relation to our neighbours and to the community more broadly is to remain sensitive to their needs and to liaise regularly to maintain cooperation and goodwill. See also our Sustainability section.
We consult regularly with our neighbours and with other interested parties and are actively involved with community and industry groups for continuous improvement in plantation management.
APFL is an active member of the FIFWA industry fire collaborative which consists of the major plantation growers in the region to coordinate appropriate fire response, equipment and training standards.
We believe that it is important to keep the public informed about our operations and activities and of any matters that might be of interest. We welcome inquiry and feedback on our activities and reports and seek to keep the public informed through our News and Information page.
We employ staff who demonstrate the knowledge and experience in good plantation practices and have formal training systems and practices in place. Further information is available on our People page.
We only award contracts for works and services to contractors who can show current accreditation for the field of work which they have applied for. Any Federal, State or Local Government permits, licences or certificates legally required to perform contracted works must be sighted before a contract is awarded.
Contractors must also have a formal safety system or show that they are working towards obtaining one.
Preference will be given to contractors with a proven performance record and sound safety and environmental record. All contractors' employees are required to undertake our safety and environmental inductions prior to commencement of work within our plantations.
We recognise the importance of being aware of new developments in all areas of plantation and environmental management and so we are active members of the State industry representative group the Forest Industries Federation of WA (FIFWA).
APFL also actively participates in collaborative plantation industry research, including pests and diseases through the Industry Pest Management Group and pesticide development through the Herbicide Consortium.
When specialist professional skills are required we engage consultants as required to carry out specific scopes of work.
Our relationships with local stakeholders also provide an important source of information about plantation and environmental management