The new crop of pine and blue gum seedlings, which was planted in a small 24-hectare compartment, was planned well before the devastating bushfires.
This planting site in the Bark Hut Road precinct was harvested a decade ago by a previous owner and it had been part of KIPT’s plans to plant it out this year.
Serves as trial site
KIPT managing director Keith Lamb said: “This is the first plantation planting on the island in more than 10 years and has served as a trial for new fencing and site-species matching.
"It’s a small but symbolic step for us which sends a clear signal to our shareholders and the Kangaroo Island community that we are here for the long term, and planning for the future.”
Lamb said the site was at the lower end of the rainfall band for the current KIPT estate and lent itself well to pine.
Blue gums being trialled
Blue gums were also being trialled to see how far east they can thrive on the island.
“It also helps us to trial some of our systems in preparation for the major replanting after harvesting the current fire-damaged crop,” Lamb said.
The site has been fenced by local contractor Bob Zinnack, using a Dingo Fencing solar-powered hot-wire system to deter browsing by native wildlife and a security system to deter theft. These materials will later be recycled for other sites.
Awaiting jetty decision
KIPT is awaiting approval for its jetty and handling facility – the Kangaroo Island Seaport – at Smith Bay, which is still in the Major Project Approvals process with the State Government.
Harvest planning of the fire-affected crop is well advanced and awaits confirmation of the port in order to establish a clear route to market.
The MD said: “We anticipate approval soon. The fire-damaged trees need to be harvested as soon as possible.
“Before the bushfires, we had time on our side because the trees were still growing after 10, 15, 20 or even 37 years in the ground. That’s no longer the case for large parts of the estate,” he added.