Posted: 15 February 2021
Last winter with so many people needing to keep warm while working from home, local environmental reserves took a beating from DIY firewood collectors, resulting in a large loss of valuable habitat.
Now here we are again; winter is around the corner and people need a supply of good, dry firewood. Where to go?
These days DIY firewood collection is largely illegal. Without doubt, the easiest, most accessible, reliable and ethical source of firewood is an accredited dealer. There are plenty of local suppliers, listed in the Yellow pages and other sites, sourcing sustainably grown, good quality firewood.
All regional land managers now have strict rules about when, where and under what circumstances people can collect their own firewood. In Albury and Wodonga, local bushlands and roadsides are definitely off-limits for firewood collecting. Here's a local update for 2021:
Why is firewood collection so strictly controlled? Simply put, people collecting firewood means birds and animals losing their food and homes. On the outskirts of rural cities in particular, the constant removal of timber is causing major problems for our wildlife and contributing to the decline of endangered species.
In one way or another, removing fallen or standing timber also removes habitat. Fallen timber would normally rot where it lies, and many insect species depend on this wood for their survival. They in turn are part of complex food webs for reptiles, birds and animals. A number of small mammal species rely on fallen wood for shelter, with the associated cracks and crevices and adjacent leaf litter providing a rich source of insect food. Fallen wood provides shelter and basking sites for snakes and lizards and refuge sites for frogs.
Standing dead trees, especially those with hollows, are vital to healthy ecosystems, providing perching roosts and often the only suitable places for birds and animals like possums and gliders to nest.
Contrary to popular belief, firewood collection can actually increase the damage caused by bushfire, by creating concentrations of small fuel while removing the larger logs which would act as shelter in a bushfire.
As community concern increases over habitat decline, there are willing eyes and ears on the ground to spot illegal firewood collectors and report those who are doing the wrong thing.
In Victoria suspected illegal wood collecting can be reported on 136 186, in Albury call 02 6023 8111