Seedlings signal new era for KI forestry

KIPT operations team leader Brian Stewart with the new seedlings.

KIPT has completed its first replanting following the summer bushfires. The new crop of pine and blue gum, in a small 24-hectare compartment, was planned well before the devastating bushfires. The site in the Bark Hut Road precinct was harvested a decade ago by a previous owner and it had been part of KIPT’s plans to plant it out this year.

“This is the first plantation planting on island in more than 10 years and has served as a trial for new fencing and site-species matching. It’s a small but symbolic step for us which sends a clear signal to our shareholders and the Kangaroo Island community that we are here for the long term, and planning for the future,” KIPT Managing Director Keith Lamb said.

“This site is at the lower end of the rainfall band for our current estate, and lends itself well to pine. But we have also trialed blue gums to see how far east they can thrive on the island. It also helps us to trial some of our systems in preparation for the major replanting after harvesting the current fire-damaged crop.”

The site has been fenced by local contractor Bob Zinnack, using a Dingo Fencing solar-powered hot-wire system  to deter browsing by native wildlife, and a security system to deter theft. The fencing materials will later be recycled for other sites.

The company awaits approval for its jetty and handling facility – the Kangaroo Island Seaport – at Smith Bay, which is still in the Major Project Approvals process with the State Government. Harvest planning of the fire-affected crop is well advanced and awaits confirmation of the port in order to establish a clear route to market.

“We anticipate approval soon. The fire-damaged trees need to be harvested as soon as possible. Before the bushfires we had time on our side because the trees were still growing after 10, 15, 20 or even 37 years in the ground. That’s no longer the case for large parts of the estate,” Mr Lamb said.