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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


8 June 2000

Firewood Conference to encourage a sustainable industry


Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage today officially launched the Victorian National Park Association's Firewood Conference at Latrobe University in Bendigo.

"Up to 6 million tonnes of fuelwood is burnt in Australia each year, with two thirds used for domestic heating. The figure burnt is double that of our annual export of woodchips, and the industry is estimated to be worth up to $390 million annually", Dr Stone said.

"However over a third of Australia's firewood supply is removed from shrinking woodlands including our precious box iron-bark forests".

The National Firewood Conference will examine shifting firewood and fuelwood industries from its historical reliance on roadsides, stock routes, private property and reserves to a new commercial industry based around sustainable plantations.

"So unfortunately the comfort of sitting beside a warm fire in winter may involve the collection of firewood that has a detrimental effect on the health and habitat of our native forests. For example, removal of dead trees with hollows can effect threatened species like the Superb and Swift Parrots, Regent honeyeater and the South eastern Red-tailed Cockatoo."

"A hollow box tree may look like prime firewood to someone out on a weekend's forage, but it is also could be the home of one of Australia's most vulnerable species."

"A lot of Australians also see the collecting of free firewood on the weekend as one of life's winter pleasures. It will require a change of culture to redirect firewood collectors to the farms or sellers who make use of specially planted wood lots."

Dr Stone said that the Federal Government was encouraging the development of fuelwood plantations through the National Heritage Trust's Bushcare and Farm Forestry Program.

"In some cases Canberra fuelwood merchants are sourcing supply from over 500 kilometres away. The need to develop a sustainable commercial industry is critical with estimates that existing supplies will 'dry' up within the next 10 years".

The two-day conference will commence in the Ironbark Centre at Latrobe University's Bendigo Campus on June 8. The first day includes presentations from the Environment Protection Authority, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Commercial Fuelwood Industry representatives. Day 2 involves field trips to the Bendigo surrounds to examine trends and future developments of the fuelwood industry.

Media Inquiries
Simon Frost 0419 495 468 or (02) 6277 2016 or Jason Doyle (VNPA Woodlands Project Officer) 0407 140 468
June 8 2000

Commonwealth of Australia