Firewood: where to find local and legal

Firewood: where to find local and legal

Posted: 07 May 2020

It's firewood season and the weather is perfect for a bit of hard yakka collecting wood, but where to go once you've sharpened up your chainsaw?

As managers of valuable environmental lands, Parklands reminds firewood collectors that local bushlands and roadsides are definitely off limits for firewood collecting. Local councils all have strict rules about when, where and under what circumstances you can collect your own firewood. Here's a local update for 2020:

  • The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) allows firewood collection from different sites in State forests every year, with the closest to Wodonga this year being Yackandandah/Stanley/Beechworth sites. Collection is allowed in two seasons only: autumn season (1 March to 30 June and spring season (1 September to 30 November). Firewood is to be for home use only and each site has specific requirements. Go to https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/find-a-firewood-collection-area and look up Hume Region sites to find out where wood can be taken from this season. Forest Fire Management Victoria’s Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman says “It’s important that people only collect firewood from designated collection areas in State forests where collection is allowed, and to stay within collection limits. These designated collection areas are put in place to protect sites of cultural and environmental significance.”
  • NSW State Forests allow firewood collection by permit only. The nearest collection areas are up past Holbrook. You need to have a valid permit and have paid for the wood that you want to collect. Go to https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-firewood-permit
  • Roadside firewood collection is prohibited in the Wodonga Council LGA except in exceptional circumstances such as following exceptional wind storms, in which case specific permission is required. Phone 02 6022 9300
  • Indigo Shire Council allows firewood collection from the roadsides listed on their website only. Collecting in other areas is illegal. The designated roadsides change each year to allow ecological recovery. A permit is required. Go to https://www.indigoshire.vic.gov.au/Living-in-Indigo/Environment/Firewood,
  • Albury Council does not allow firewood collecting on roadsides, in reserves or from any local government land. Taking firewood or other materials such as plants or rocks is illegal in Albury and reporting of illegal activity encouraged. See https://www.alburycity.nsw.gov.au/environment/trees-and-vegetation/firewood-collection
  • Vicroads currently does not allow firewood collection from any major roadsides.

Why is firewood collection so strictly controlled?  Simply put, people collecting firewood means birds and animals losing their food and homes, and around towns and cities in rural Victoria this is causing major problems for our wildlife.

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.

Adding insult to injury for wildlife, 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. 

So, before you get out that chainsaw, check that your planned outing is legal, and share a thought for those others also relying on the wood!