Management of the Commercial Pine Plantation Estate

Background

ACT Forests was established in 1915 to manage a multiple use forest, supporting the local timber industry, recreational opportunities and water protection in the Lower Cotter Catchment. Most of the forest area planted was on degraded pasture land that was cleared for agriculture and taken over by noxious weeds and rabbits. Prior to 2003, ACT Forests managed 26,000 ha of land, including about 16,000 ha of pine plantation. The remaining 10,000 ha consisted of areas of native vegetation including nature reserves, special purpose reserves, other conservation areas, watercourses, road reserves, travelling stock reserves and general utility areas.

In January 2003 approximately 10,500 ha of the pine plantation estate was destroyed during the Canberra bushfires, leaving only the Kowen Plantation in the east of the Territory undamaged. Following the fires the burnt plantations were cleared and some areas replanted with pine trees, particularly where the soil stabilisation and water quality protection was a priority. The previous plantation boundaries were re-defined in some areas, which resulted in conversion from plantation to native vegetation, particularly in steep areas with increased environmental buffers.

Current management of commercial forest plantations in the ACT

The management of pine plantations aims to generate sufficient income from timber sales to offset land management costs while ensuring the maintenance of long-term social and environmental benefits.

Management of the former ACT Forests lands is now carried out by the Parks and Conservation Service foresters. Timber harvesting is carried out by a full time contract crew currently based in Kowen Forest. The products cut from the forest include sawlogs and pulpwood with all timber going to regional sawmills and processing plants. Harvesting is carried out in accordance with the nationally endorsed ‘ACT Code of Forest Practice’ to ensure the highest standards of environmental, water quality and heritage protection are met.

The pine forests are extensively used and managed for recreational activities including walking, jogging, horse riding, cycling, camping, picnicking, fishing, musical events and car rallies. Visitor usage in the plantation estate is now equal to the number of visitors to the ACT National Parks reserve system due to their close proximity to Canberra, the substantial high quality road and trail infrastructure, and the investment made in forest management.

To book your next event, email environment_eventsandcamping@act.gov.au or contact the Public Use Team on 6205 8794.

Visit the Public Land Use page for more details on holding events on ACT public land.