Rebuilding Victoria

Rebuilding Victoria

Rebuilding Victoria

Linda Sewell is the Chief Executive of forestry group Hancock Victorian Plantations. The pine plantations have been severly hit during the Victorian bushfires and Linda explained how this will affect the company now and into the future.

How much of the pine plantations have been lost due to the recent fires?

Linda Sewell: 17,000 hectars. Two thirds of that in Gippsland. It was 10% of the whole estate.

How has this affected the business?

Linda Sewell: It has affected our people dramatically, a lot of them are fighting fires instead of doing their normal work, it has been dramatically draining. We are in the middle of a salvage program. We want to recover our work.

How much was what has been lost worth?

Linda Sewell: Tens of millions of dollars. No-one can believe it. I have read a lot about the direct impact, the lost sheds and fences. Some of our contractors have lost their equipment, we have lost a mill. The media, quite rightly so, have commented on the hundreds of lives lost and houses.

How long will it take for the area to be replenished?

Linda Sewell: To fully restore by planting it will take three to five years. Some of the trees were 20 years old some were one year old. They ranged from one to early twenty years old. But the older the tree the more hope of salvaging the burn wood.

Has it affected your customers in any way?

Linda Sewell: It is a little too early to tell. Some of our customers are still buying the wood we have been able to salvage.

Is it possible to rebuild?

Linda Sewell: In the scheme of things we have only lost 10% which isnt that bad. We have 90% unaffected.

Are any of the pine plantations still under any threat?

Linda Sewell: Whilst we are experiencing these fire conditions we are under threat, espeically because some fires are still not contained and there are a number of asonists. For the next few months I will still consider ourselves as under threat.

What is important now is Victoria continues to stand together and support one another through the recent crisis that has left few Australians unaffected.

Everyone can help each other in rebuilding Victoria, ensure that you are buying Australian made products and services to continute to support Australia and the communities that have lost their valuable crops and machinery. Crops have been lost and ruined due to fire and the ripple effect of devestation and weather conditions associated with the current bushfires. These people may have already lost their homes, community and income so continue to support them buy purchasing what they can still provide. Only choose Australian grown and made when it is possible.

Also continue to book services in and around bushfire affected Victoria, businesses around the bushfire affected districts are losing out in an already bad economic time due to loosing bookings and dealing with cancellations. Please think before cancelling as certain business have been indirectly affected meaning they have lost money and their business but will receive no help from the Government or Red Cross.

It is essential that as Australians we still buy Australian products and continue to stay and travel to bushfire affected areas, when they are safe and contained to help get these broken communites back on track.

What we have to remember is we cannot forget, when the flames are out, the fires are over, the communites will still be rebuilding and will still be directly affected by the tragedies seen and felt throughout Victoria from the bushfires. A month later and a year later this tragedy cannot be forgotten. Together we need to work together by travelling, encouraging tourism and buying Australian products, especially those grown in remote and country areas of Victoria.

What do you think the Government and Red Cross should see as a prority? Where should the money go first? So far it has been said schools will be a priority, what else? Where should it go? Have your say in our online blog.

Many huge names in music have come together for the Sound Relief concert in March. With two shows, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney more money will be raised to help rebuild Victoria. The two concerts will run simultaneously in both states on the 14^th of March. Half of the profits from the Sydney show will go towards the Vicotrian bushfires the other half to the Queensland floods.

In Melbourne
Augie March, Bliss N Eso, Paris Wells, Gabriella Cimi, Hunters and Collectors, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Jack Johnson, Jet, Kings of Leon, Liam Finn, Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly, Split Enz and Wolfmother.

In Sydney
Coldplay, Eskimo Joe, Hoodoo Gurus, Icehouse, Jet, Josh Pyke, Little Birdy, The Presets, Wolfmother, You Am I and more.

Together Australia will need to work together to rebuild Victoria.

Interview by Brooke Hunter

For more information:
Victorian Bushfire Blog - How have they affected you and those you know?