Regulatory Impact Statement: National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia

Environment Australia, 2001

Strategy 5. Develop a Sustainable Firewood Industry-encouraging Plantations, Sustainable Management of Native Forest and Use of Residues

The objective of this strategy is to encourage a more sustainable firewood industry that is increasingly based on waste and salvage timber, forestry residues, plantations and sustainably managed native forests. Proposed actions include:

  • Foster and support farm forestry planning, on-ground works and communication activities in targeted regions - eg the Murray Darling Basin.
  • Target incentives for conservation and sustainable management of private native vegetation subject to firewood collection.
  • Encourage use of residues of forestry operations in private and State forests as an alternative source of firewood.
  • Encourage greater use of waste wood from road widening, urban subdivisions, local council activities and building operations and environmental weeds as firewood.

A qualitative assessment of potential impacts of these actions on Governments, firewood collectors, merchants, and consumers and environmental values follows:

Action

Foster and support farm forestry planning, on-ground works and communication activities in targeted regions e.g. the Murray Darling Basin.

Impact on Government

  • Government will bear some of the cost of promoting and supporting farm forestry throughout the Murray Darling Basin, but this will be largely achieved by better targeting of existing programs.

Impact on Collectors

  • Increased firewood supply options. Farm forestry plantations likely to receive Government support to establish.

Impact on Merchants

  • Merchants will have a new source of firewood that should be a more reliable source of firewood than firewood collected from remnant woodland.

Impact on Consumers

  • Consumers will have a new environmentally friendly source of firewood that will be grown to a consistent size and consistent quality.

Impact on Environment

  • Pressure will be taken off remnant woodlands and habitat for some species will be created within the plantations. Multipurpose plantations will combat salinity, sequester carbon and contribute to the rural economy.

Action

Target incentives for conservation and sustainable management of private native vegetation subject to firewood collection.

Impact on Government

  • Government will bear some of the cost through subsidising incentive schemes, but better targeting of existing programs, eg NHT, will largely achieve this.

Impact on Collectors

  • Little impact but some disadvantage if remnants become unavailable for firewood collection. Where collectors are also landowners there will be greater incentive to protect remnants.

Impact on Merchants

  • Little impact

Impact on Consumers

  • Little impact but may be assured that firewood is sustainably sourced and high quality woodlands are being protected.

Impact on Environment

  • Secure protection for remnant vegetation on private land.

Action

Encourage use of residues of forestry operations in private and State forests as an alternative source of firewood.

Impact on Government

  • Minimal cost to Government and scope for increased revenues from royalties.

Impact on Collectors

  • A new source of firewood for collectors.

Impact on Merchants

  • As for collectors a new source of firewood.

Impact on Consumers

  • A new environmentally sustainable source of firewood

Impact on Environment

  • Pressure will be taken off remnant woodland but the extra profits from the sale of thinnings may make it profitable to log areas that would not otherwise have been logged.

Action

Encourage greater use of waste wood from road widening, urban subdivisions, local council activities and building operations and environmental weeds as firewood.

Impact on Government

  • Negligible cost to Federal and State Governments. Some administrative costs to Local Government but also scope for sale of firewood generated through local government activities.

Impact on Collectors

  • Firewood collectors may contract to buy firewood generated as a by product of local government activities or contract to remove woody weeds.

Impact on Merchants

  • Merchants will have a new source of firewood.

Impact on Consumers

  • Consumers will have a new source of firewood.

Impact on Environment

  • Some benefit through pressure being taken off remnant woodland but subdivision and road widening are essentially environmentally destructive and utilising the by products from these activities should not be seen as making these activities green.