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Forestry Tas. suggest a plantation fire may have been deliberately lit ...

Forest fire arson fear

FORESTRY Tasmania says a plantation fire burning near Railton on the North-West appears to have been deliberately lit.

Tasmania Fire Service and FT crews were alerted to the the blaze - about 4km north of the township - at 5pm yesterday.

“The crews conducted back-burning operations over about 10ha of softwood harvesting slash in the 17ha plantation,’’ an FT spokesman said this morning.

Crews are conducting further back-burning today.

FT says smoke may be visible in the Railton and Sheffield area later today but is not expected to affect residents.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Mercury HERE

In the meantime Forestry Tas. are deliberately burning ...

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• Meanwhile, in NSW…

Government called on to halt logging and release fire threat maps

South Coast conservation group Friends of the Five Forests (FOFF) are calling on the NSW Government to publicly release copies of maps and other details on the increased fire threat posed by extensive forest canopy dieback.

In 2007 the NSW Scientific Committee determined that koalas from Dignams Creek to Wapengo were threatened by logging and extensive canopy dieback. 

“Forests NSW, the State-run agency, are continuing their logging of this critical koala habitat in Bermagui State Forest,” Mr Bertram, spokesperson for FOFF, said. “It is now seven years since the last major forest dieback event and it is outrageous that this information has not been released before the bushfire season.”

Earlier this year, a publication from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) indicated that 12 maps of fire risk for dieback affected coastal forests of NSW were to be released.

Mr Bertram said all reasonable attempts to gain access to this information, which is highly valuable in assessing conditions for koalas, had failed even though the human population is also threatened by wildfire.

“The logging of Bermagui State Forest and the stonewalling by the NSW Government shows they are happy to dramatically increase both wildfire potential and severity on the local community, while suppressing important information,” Mr Bertram said. “The NSW Government has confirmed they do not care about this nationally significant koala population and it seems clear there is a similar attitude toward the local human community.”

Forests NSW have commenced logging in Bermagui SF compartment 2069 contrary to recommendations from expert consultants, local residents, and conservation groups.

“We are calling on the NSW Government to cease logging of Bermagui State Forest and all planned logging of the Five Forests areas until they can categorically prove that logging and dieback poses no threat to the koala population and the community.”