Sustainable forest management, certification, research, fauna protection and new log-flow monitoring technologies were high on the agenda for those who gathered for a recent briefing at Wild Horse Mountain, 124 metres above Beerburrum’s plantation estate on the Queensland Sunshine Coast.

The inspection of HQPlantations’ southeast Queensland pine plantations at Beerburrum and Beerwah and an analysis of auditing programs for forest certification were both part of Operation Handshake.

Such inspections endeavour to give a clear and positive overview of how forestry standard certification is impacting forest managers and again how this is broadening the awareness of AFS Ltd’s Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management, encompassed under the PEFC banner.

After auditing, BSI Australia provides HQP’s state-wide plantations with certificates to the AFS standard. The certificates, valid for three years, are based on audits every nine months over varying seasons of forest management.

Lismore-based Ross Garsden, who has 20 years’ experience in environmental and forest certification, has been auditing HQP forests for five years.

Much travelled, he works across a wide area, “from Tasmania to the Tiwi Islands and from Bundaberg to Bunbury.”

HQP is the largest commercial forestry plantation manager in Queensland, and one of the largest in Australia. managing 343,000 hectares, of which 212,000 hectares is hardwood and softwood plantation. Species include Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis), slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii) and an advanced hybrid of both.

During the Beerburrum inspections, the group discussed the roll-out of improved technologies for managing forest activities.

Using cutting-edge mobile technology, HQ Plantations is applying the latest hand-held data collectors to monitor wood-flow schedules.

The technology allows the company to determine, minute by minute, the quantities of logs harvested and lifted to forest roads for collection in any one area. This incredibly detailed knowledge assists the production chain from harvesting and hauling, loading for transport and eventually delivery to mills.

The system also eliminates downtime for road transport operators.

Prior to the Beerburrum visit, Garsden inspected HQP’S Byfield plantations near Yepoon, where 80 per cent of the 12,000 hectares of forest was damaged or destroyed by tropical cyclone Marcia when it swept across the central Queensland Coast in February last year.

“What I found remarkable was the efficient swiftness of HQP in responding to the problem,” Garsden said. “This was a quantum leap for HQP; the company really kicked some goals with its thorough and comprehensive response to the blow-over and its quickness to establish all necessary regulative approvals to get the salvaging of wood under way.”