Neglected plantation a bushfire worry

A NEGLECTED burnt-out Gunns timber plantation dangerously close to power lines is causing bushfire concern to a small group of West Tamar residents.

The plantation's neighbour, Anne Johnston, said a roadside tree fell across power lines in January 2013 and sparked a fire on the plantation that wiped out a mass of trees.

She said the dead eucalyptus trees still stand 15 months after the fire, and she fears a fire might happen again.

Mrs Johnston said two had fallen against power lines in the past fortnight and caused power outages.

``The trees are dead and unstable, and the rain we've had recently has softened the soil, making them even more unstable,'' she said.  ``It's a miracle that we got through the summer without a fire.''

Mrs Johnston said some residents decided at a recent  public meeting to demand  the landowner or Gunns' receiver KordaMentha harvest the trees adjacent to powerlines immediately.

Last year's review of the state's private plantation estate, led by former federal resources minister Martin Ferguson, found landowners were in legal limbo over the managed investment schemes on their land.

The review of the state's 177,000-hectare plantation estate - about 120,000 hectares of which were developed as managed investment schemes - noted concerns on the lack of ongoing plantation and fire prevention maintenance from investors and companies.

Gunns' receivers KordaMentha is legally responsible for plantation maintenance, and has responsibility for 30 managed investment schemes. KordaMentha spokesman Mike Smith said the trees in question were owned by Gunns on third party land.

He said a regional forestry manager had claimed that the fallen trees were not caused by lack of maintenance.

``There have been no cutbacks in general maintenance and fire safety maintenance since the receivership,'' Mr Smith said.

``Under the maintenance program, part of that would be to alleviate any safety risk of any nature.

``The receivers are not preventing anyone from harvesting their trees if they have to.''

The Holwell plantation landowner Mike Breen said he did not want to comment on the situation.

KordaMentha will select a preferred buyer for Gunns' assets at the end of this month.

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