Specialist forestry firefighters working in Australia’s forest industries will help protect people, communities and vital forest assets from the threat of bushfires across the country this summer season. It’s important to recognise the critical work our forest industries and firefighters do in conjunction with the wider fire services to keep people and property safe, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Mr Ross Hampton said today.

“Forest plantations and managed native forests cover large land areas across Australia. Keeping these forests protected from fire is an enormous task and the work our state governments, agencies and forest growers and management companies do, in the lead up to and during the annual bushfire season, should be commended by all. Thankyou to all involved,” Mr Hampton said.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) states the east coast of QLD, NSW, VIC and TAS as well as southern parts of SA and WA are facing ‘above normal fire potential’ following the very warm and dry start to the year. It has been the fifth driest start to the year on record and the driest since 1970.

“Working in bushfire management, mitigation and firefighting is as much a core part of work in Australia’s forest industries as tree harvest operations or planting. Our people know forests and know how to manage them for fire. Nationally, hundreds of dedicated individuals with the backing of state agencies, governments and forestry businesses work as forestry firefighters or in other fire management roles to keep people, communities and forest assets safe,” Mr Hampton said.

“Thousands of hours are put in throughout the year by state forestry agency and forest company staff or contractors. In many cases the majority of staff working for these agencies or companies are fire trained.

“I commend the work of our forest firefighters and broader forest industries in rising to this annual firefighting challenge to protect people, communities and forest assets, which make an enormous environmental contribution,” Mr Hampton concluded.