Bushfires to set primary production back by years

Bushfires to set primary production back by years

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Montegue apple orchards at Batlow lost only a small portion of their fruit bearing trees while the vast majority of Jazz variety has retained its crop, thanks to swift action by the company, trucking in generators to run irrigation pumps.

Montegue apple orchards at Batlow lost only a small portion of their fruit bearing trees while the vast majority of Jazz variety has retained its crop, thanks to swift action by the company, trucking in generators to run irrigation pumps.

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Devastating bushfires in the south east compound blow to primary production, as agriculture counts its losses.

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Disruption to primary production in the wake of remarkable bushfires will have an impact for years to come, say industry leaders.

Almond producers in the Riverina will be short of pollination bees, with president of the NSW Apiarists Association Stephen Taggart saying a lack of numbers, along with this week's rise in price for raw honey from Capilano, will swing some beekeepers away from the pollination game.

Timber producers say harvest quotas will be affected for decades, while apple and berry growers continue to count the loss of their new season crop.

Since fires began to burn out of control last September, 400 million tonnes of carbon have lifted into the atmosphere - more than 116 of the world's lowest carbon emitting countries, says the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In NSW there have been 2176 homes destroyed but 20,000 saved. More than 13,000 animals have been euthanised or confirmed deceased.

In response to the massive Dunns Road mega fire NSW Government has already supplied 11,000 tonnes of emergency fodder.

NSW Apiarists Association president Stephen Targett said 6000 hives had been destroyed by fires with the field bees from another 30,000 hives "taken out". Those affected hives will live off their own honey, and will "do it tough" while any thought of a crop for the beekeeper has been extinguished.

The Tumburumba fire travelled 200km in three days, leaving beekeepers little time to move their hives while apiarists targetting the Grey Ironbark and Blackbutt flowering events near Batemans Bay escaped one blaze only to lose out in the next.

Mr Targett will move his bees on location in the southern highlands onto a relative of Patersons Curse, blue weed, in a bid to put some strength into his colonies. Bio control has decimated the "curse" but to bees it is a high protein favourite.. Now, in the wake of fires, the association is calling on government to open unburnt national parks and reserves so beekeepers can rebuild their vital pollinators.

The Australian Forest Products Association said damage to the $24 billion forests industry would take some time to assess, but there was concern for the 80,000 people who directly work in forestry and the 100,000 who work alongside it. In Tumut, for instance, 50 per cent of the people rely on the forests industry are now compromised by the Tumburumba fire.

"Plantation trees are a type of infrastructure," said CEO Ross Hampton. "It's like losing a huge asset like powerlines. We would hope that the replant takes place at a very fast rate."

In the meantime harvesting equipment is being employed to clear roads and regain access.

"We can't keep managing our 132m ha native forestry estate the way it has been, in different compartments with different fire regimes, different roads, different fire crews," he said, pointing out that of that national estate just 5.5m ha were managed by forestry. "To do that is a recipe for more of the same and Australians aren't going to cop it again."

  • Bushfire survivors will be presented with best ways of making decisions and moving forward during a free breakfast at the Adelong Services Club on thursday morning from 7.30am. Officers from DPI and LLS will talk about whether to sell or feed, ensure pasture recover, confinement feeding, and mental well being. RSVP 0427 781 514.
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