Fire management in forested areas of Woodenbong and Bonalbo is the number one community concern relating to the local plantation timber industry, according to researchers at Southern Cross University.

The forestry researchers from Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management have recently been helping to facilitate local area open meetings for community engagement with timber industry representatives.

Initial discussions on issues concerning local farmers, residents and interested community groups, found the second and third priorities at both villages were the socio-economic benefits for local communities, followed by community consultation and information sharing.

About 70 people attended the Woodenbong meeting, with 23 attending at Bonalbo.

Industry members, including Forest Enterprises Australia, Timber Communities Australia, Northern Rivers Private Forestry and Forests NSW were well represented and gave a commitment to working with local communities to identify initiatives that provide local benefits and to help address concerns.

Bonalbo locals were also concerned with environmental impacts, including the spread of invasive weeks, reduced water flows back into the catchment and the effects on biodiversity.

Follow-up meetings plan to explore the dynamics of the main issues to improve current understanding and future planning.

The next meeting is planned for Thursday, March 19, at 7pm at the Woodenbong Golf Club.

Anyone wishing to find out more, or who wants to contribute to the project, is welcome to attend. For more information contact Andrea Leys on 0438 875 935 or Marie-Chantale Pelletier 0428 248 010.