HQPlantations is one of 28 forests certified under AS 4708 – Sustainable Forest Management. This standard is used by Australian forest growers to make Responsible Wood and PEFC claims on forest products. Underpinning certification is a commitment by forest growers to the management and rejuvenation of forests. In this article, HQPlantations takes Responsible Wood readers into the Tuan-Toolara pine plantation and providers an insight into the importance of riparian corridors in managing forests sustainably.

Planted seedlings and natural regeneration (photo credit – HQPlantations)

The extensive 85,000 hectare Tuan-Toolara pine plantation on Queensland’s Fraser Coast is one of the largest contiguous plantation estates in Australia. Managed by HQPlantations, Queensland’s largest private plantation grower, it supports a thriving regional forest sector producing products as diverse as house framing timbers, landscaping timbers, engineered beams, power poles other roundwood products, medium density fibreboard panels, wood pellets for renewable power, and bark and potting mix for the landscape and nursery industries. Each year, around 2,500 hectares is harvested and replanted with over 2.4 million locally grown pine seedlings.

While the harvest, replanting and protection of the plantations is a major focus, HQPlantations is also responsible for the management of adjacent native forest buffers. These areas, which make up almost 40% percent of lands managed by HQPlantations, provide valuable habitats for native plants and animals, and help to protect water quality and stream flows.

At over 5,000 hectares, the Tinana Creek – Coondoo Creek riparian corridor is one of the largest native forest buffers in Tuan-Toolara plantation. This important area supports significant biodiversity values including endangered subtropical lowland rainforest and several threatened species such as the Giant Barred Frog and the Mary River Cod. HQPlantations, a significant land manager within the catchment, seeks to maintain and enhance these values as part of its commitment to long-term forest stewardship.

Giant barred frog, Tinana Creek (photo credit – Ian Last)

In recent years, HQPlantations, supported by Australian Government funding, has worked with local stakeholders to revegetate weed-infested or previously cleared areas along the Tinana Creek – Coondoo Creek corridor. These projects provide excellent opportunities for the forest grower to strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones with a wide range of local stakeholders.

Seedlings are sourced from local Landcare groups with some raised at the HQPlantations Toolara Nursery using locally collected seed. To date, over 50,000 seedlings have been planted. Most on-ground work has been capably performed by local contractor Rick Sizer, supported by Gympie Landcare workers. As well as planting, this includes controlling weeds and protecting and assisting natural regeneration where it is present.

The Riparian rainforest along Tinana Creek will be protected and enhanced (photo credit – HQPlantations)

Baseline environmental monitoring has commenced at some sites with ‘bio-condition’ plots established by Mary River Catchment Co-ordination Committee staff to monitor changes in vegetation structure and diversity over time. Complementing this, local naturalists Kelvin and Amelia Neilsen from Cooloola Nature conduct quarterly bird surveys at the Tinana Yards revegetation site near Toolara Forest station to record changing seasonal patterns in bird movements as the revegetation project matures. To date over 100 different species have been recorded.

For more information about HQPlantations please visit the HQPlantations website. For more information about AS 4708 – Sustainable Forest Management and Responsible Wood forest certification more generally please visit the Responsible Wood website.