Forestry feels heat

BUSHFIRES that continue to burn Tasmania are damaging the state's struggling forestry industry.

Among the assets already lost is a family sawmill, plantations and thousands of hectares of state forest.

Those in the industry say such losses may also have ramifications for a forest peace deal signed off last month, after almost three years of negotiations.

Kelly's mill in Dunalley was burnt to the ground in the fire that began in Forcett and continues to ravage the Tasman Peninsula.

The Examiner was unable to contact owner Ike Kelly yesterday, but several sources said he was interested in exchanging contracts for cash under a Commonwealth scheme to support the peace deal.

Cancelling such contracts will free up enough forest to create the national parks being sought by environment groups.

Workers at Norske Skog have helped battle another blaze that damaged plantations used by its Boyer paper mill in the state's South.

Norske Skog's Arnold Willems said about 40 staff and contractors had helped fight fires threatening its assets since Thursday.

Forestry Tasmania estimates that 7000 hectares of state forest has been burnt, including large tracts of plantation and productive native forests. 

The financial ramifications are unknown.

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