Collecting wood for the fire is not as simple as taking a drive to the nearest forest area and chopping down any tree you fancy. The National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia was compiled over 17 years ago as a guideline. The document focuses on ensuring ecologically sustainable firewood collection practices for individual and commercial use. Here are the most important rules to remember next time you need to collect firewood for your fireplace.
Be careful when it comes to dead trees
Most individuals and companies prefer to harvest dead trees. This is usually because the wood of these trees is dry, so it burns well and produces minimal smoke. In the past, collecting dead wood was considered a good deed clearing land of debris. However, research has shown that dead trees are crucial to maintain the circle of life.
Dead trees host a multitude of habitats, so harvesting every dead tree will endanger certain animal and insect species. Depleting forests and woodlands of dead trees will also leave some species starving as the wood is an essential food source.
Before cutting down any standing dead trees, inspect them carefully. Look for any signs of birds or insects and check for animal tracks around the tree. If in doubt, leave the tree untouched.
There are specific places where you can legally collect firewood
- Private land (with authorisation from the owner).
- Certain plantation forests which can be found on your state’s forestry department website.
- Roadsides, as authorised by individual councils. Enquire with your council and obtain the necessary permits before commencing collection.
Pay attention to fire danger warnings
This rule applies to all warnings issued by relevant environmental bodies. Don’t compromise your safety by continuing with firewood collection during Code Red alerts.
Use appropriate towing equipment
Dragging firewood on the road instead of using a trailer or heavy-duty vehicle causes damage to infrastructure. Instead, hire or purchase towing equipment to transport your firewood.
Do not damage heritage sites or artefacts
Respect for Australia’s indigenous community should be considered. Make sure that no sacred spaces are interfered with in the quest for wood.