A voluntary certification scheme was proposed and developed as part of Strategy Three of the National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia. The firewood industry was consulted in the development of a Template Certification Manual (the Manual), which was approved in April 2005 by the Firewood Taskforce of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council.
The industry group, the Firewood Association of Australia (FAA), was established in October 2005 to operate a certification scheme based on the Manual which enables firewood suppliers to demonstrate compliance with the Voluntary Code of Practice. The scheme (which ran until June 30 2011) certified compliance of firewood merchants and suppliers with the Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants (the Voluntary Code of Practice).
As part of its commitment to addressing the impacts of firewood collection, the Australian Government provided $500,000 through the Natural Heritage Trust to the Firewood Association of Australia (FAA).
The grant assisted the FAA to increase its numbers of certified members, and to conduct community awareness activities.
The FAA certification scheme ceased on June 30 2011, however the FAA still upholds the principles of sustainable firewood collection and its members adhere to the Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants. As a condition of membership of the FAA, all members sign an annual statutory declaration stating their intention to comply with the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council's Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants, itself a major outcome of the National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia. FAA members are now issued with a membership logo which identifies them as being "Sustainable Firewood Suppliers".
FAA and its Voluntary Code of Practice continue to develop and promote a more sustainable firewood industry to help achieve the national biodiversity conservation outcomes that are the principal intention of the Voluntary Code of Practice.
- Firewood Association of Australia
- National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia
- Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants
- Education kit
- Plantation forests
- References and links
- You can help!
Firewood is a valuable source of renewable energy, especially in regional Australia where it is often the dominant source of heating. Burning wood to warm homes and fuel industry has been part of Australian culture for centuries. Studies in 2000 estimated that 4.5-5.5 million tonnes of timber are harvested for domestic firewood use each year. When industrial firewood is included the total jumps to between 6-7 million tonnes, more than the 4 million tonnes of hardwood woodchips now exported annually from Australia. This is beginning to change with recognition that firewood harvest is contributing to the loss of wildlife particularly in the woodlands of south-eastern Australia. For details of patterns of firewood consumption see Firewood consumption in Australia.
Dead trees and fallen timber are vital habitat for a diverse range of fauna including a number of threatened species. Firewood harvesters target dead trees (often with hollows) and fallen timber as these are immediately able to burn well and produce less smoke. However, not only does standing and fallen dead wood provide habitat for fauna but it also plays an essential role in maintaining forest and woodland nutrient cycles. In fact, the deadwood component is at least as important as the living overstorey, leaf litter and soil components for the maintenance of ecological processes that sustain biodiversity.
Through no fault of their own, most firewood users and suppliers are unaware of the ecological consequences of firewood collection. It is often mistakenly seen as just 'cleaning up' the forest or keeping the farm tidy, and a part of good land management. There is a general perception that deadwood is a resource in unlimited supply that can be harvested without any environmental consequences.
Collecting firewood doesn't have to cause environmental damage. This web site provides information about the impacts of firewood harvesting and how people can continue to use firewood with as little environmental damage as possible.
Research shows that firewood collection can have a detrimental impact on Australia's native wildlife, and that many tree species that are popular sources of firewood are declining.
Collection as a potential threat to Australia's biodiversity
In 2005, 'Continuing net loss of native hollow-bearing trees and coarse woody debris due to firewood harvesting practices' was considered by the Minister of the Environment and Heritage for listing as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Minister decided not to list firewood harvesting as a KTP, stating that there are existing mechanisms in place to address the issue.
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