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Collecting and burning firewood is one of humanity's oldest activities so it is no wonder that the pleasures of burning firewood are ingrained in our culture. Firewood is also the only practical form of heating in some parts of regional Australia. However, firewood harvest does have an environmental impact, like almost everything that we do. The aim of this web page and the National Approach is not to stop people using firewood, but to let people know how to minimise the impacts of using firewood.
If you are collecting firewood leave hollow logs alone whether they are standing or lying. Although they may burn well, they are the dwindling homes to some of Australia's most beloved animals. So, try and take small diameter solid pieces of wood instead of large diameter hollows.
When you take firewood leave some behind and move on. If there is very little around leave it and search somewhere else. It is often the cumulative impact of lots of people taking a little firewood that causes depletion. As with recreational fishing, over harvesting will destroy the resource for everyone.
Do not collect from endangered woodland communities. A list of nationally endangered communities can be found at woodlands. These communities are declining and are protected by state and federal legislation so penalties apply to firewood collecting. Look on the Threatened Species web site for your state to find out what is endangered at your state level - other controls may apply to them.
Consider collecting your firewood from plantation thinnings and completed harvesting operations. You may need a permit. In many states, government agencies administer permit systems that allow collection of firewood in state forest areas. For further information contact your state agency responsible for forest and plantation management.
Ensure you buy firewood from a firewood merchant who is certified under the Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants. To find a certified firewood merchant in your area, visit the Firewood Association of Australia . By purchasing firewood from a certified supplier, you will assist in protecting Australia's natural environment and in developing a more sustainable firewood industry.
Encourage your firewood merchant to stock plantation wood or the less threatened species of hardwood such as stringybark. If there is enough consumer demand for alternative products then merchants will progressively turn away from the threatened woodland species.
Planning for future firewood supplies
Although limited, evidence indicates that firewood harvesting in dry forests and woodlands occurs at rates well above a sustainable level (Driscoll et al. 2000). To assist in securing a future sustainable firewood supply, communities, industries and governments are working together in planning and promoting alternative firewood sources.
- Logs Have Life Inside Music and Education Kit - firewood education kit (including House on Fire song)