The full cost of Cyclone Marcia could be hundreds of millions of dollars more than currently estimated when the damage to the Byfield pine plantations is assessed. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
The full cost of Cyclone Marcia could be hundreds of millions of dollars more than currently estimated when the damage to the Byfield pine plantations is assessed. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Marcia damages 80% of pine tree plantations in Byfield

HQPLANTATIONS CEO Brian Farmers says they have an 18-month window to clean-up their pine tree farms in Byfield if they don't want to lose millions of dollars.

In a statement released on their website last week, initial estimates suggest up to 80% of the 12,000 hectares of their plantations in Byfield were destroyed or damaged as a result of Tropical Cyclone Marcia.

The Blue Knob fire tower was also destroyed. HQPlantations is Queensland's largest plantation timber company.

Mr Farmer told the Capricorn Coast Mirror last week he wouldn't be able to put an accurate cost on what the cyclone had cost their Byfield tree farms, but the Byfield plantations made up about 5% of their entire farming land across the state.

"We don't have any absolute numbers, until we start harvesting the tonnes of wood on the ground, we won't know," Mr Farmer said.

"(We're) planning to salvage up to one million tonnes of wind thrown and damaged trees.

"Our initial focus will be on restoring road infrastructure to enable salvage harvesting to take place before the fallen trees start to rot.

"Where possible, salvage logs will be placed to local processors, but the scale of the damage may also necessitate the export of logs through Gladstone."

Pine forests in Byfield were felled by Cyclone Marcia Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Rural Weekly
Pine forests in Byfield were felled by Cyclone Marcia Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Rural Weekly Rachael Conaghan

HQPlantations major asset comprises a 99-year licence from Queensland Government to manage, harvest and re-grow plantation timber Government owned lands.

Mr Farmer said the wood harvested would be exported to Asia.

"The trees are pretty young, they're only 10 or 12 years of age, and that doesn't make very good sawn timber because the wood has different properties as it matures," he said.

"So the really young stuff is only good for wood chips, and low grade wood products.

"As structural material it's not much good."

Mr Farmer also wanted to emphasise the key priority of HQPlantations following Cyclone Marcia and during the salvage harvest will be the safety of staff, contractors and the general public.



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