The representative body for the West Australian timber industry has criticised state forest management after major bushfires.
Thousands of hectares of timber plantations were burnt during the Esperance fires in November and the Waroona fires, which have been contained and downgraded this week.
Forest Industries Federation of WA executive director Melissa Haslam said major fires had been more frequent since timber harvesting in old growth forests ended in 2001.
Ms Haslam said the state government had “dropped the ball” on forest management.
“We know there is a drying climate, which contributes to these things,” she said.
“But we also have an enormous amount of forest now that is just largely unmanaged and fuel loads have built up to dangerous levels.”
Ms Haslam said the timber industry used to operate in forests that have now been designated as nature reserves.
She said when there was a timber industry presence in native forests more work was done to manage bushfire risk.
“When we were managing forests for timber production, they were also inadvertently being managed for fires,” she said.
“We used to have manned forestry towers 24 hours a day.”
Ms Haslam denied that she was advocating for increased logging and timber production presence in native forests.
But she said the state government needed to do more to prevent fires from raging out of control.