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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

6 August 2001

NATIONAL APPROACH TO FIREWOOD COLLECTION PUBLISHED


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has welcomed the endorsement by state and commonwealth environment ministers of a National Approach to Firewood Collection.

"This strategy is a tool kit for governments to take action and create a more sustainable firewood industry. It is not about stopping the collection and use of firewood, it is about creating strategies to make the firewood industry more sustainable."

The strategy includes six major objectives:

"The National Approach has been developed in response to mounting scientific evidence that firewood collection is having a detrimental impact on Australia's native wildlife," Senator Hill said.

"This is of particular concern for dry forests and woodlands - these have already been substantially cleared in areas like the Murray-Darling Basin."

Research by CSIRO has found the estimated national firewood harvest is more than six million tonnes per year. It also found evidence that firewood is not managed sustainably and that listed fauna species are potentially threatened by firewood harvesting. This includes 21 birds, 20 of which occur primarily in woodland or mallee ecosystems.

"There is now a recognised need to address the impacts of Australia's firewood industry, especially the collection of firewood on private land in drier regions where agricultural land clearing and other related biodiversity losses has already occurred," Senator Hill said.

The National Approach includes a draft Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants aiming to encourage eco-friendly firewood. The draft Code of Practice is to be finalised in late 2001. Anyone who would like a copy of the National Approach or wishes to comment on the draft Code of Practice can contact Environment Australia's Community Information Unit, ciu@environment.gov.au, on 1800 803 772 or download them from the firewood website at www.ea.gov.au/land/firewood/publications/strategy.

August 6, 2001
Media Contact: Belinda Huppatz (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364


Draft Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants


The purpose of this code is to promote the sustainable use of firewood in Australia by ensuring that firewood merchants obtain firewood from sources that do not threaten the conservation of flora and fauna of forest and woodland ecosystems.

Firewood is potentially a sustainable and renewable resource. As such, the use of firewood can contribute to better land management, the conservation of native wildlife, and help reduce our reliance on greenhouse gas polluting fossil fuels.

This code aims to:

Under this code, as firewood merchants, we agree that:

  1. Firewood will be collected in accordance with the letter and spirit of laws applying in each State or Territory.
  2. Firewood will only be sourced from collectors who conform to the statutory codes of practice that control forest management practices on public and private land.
  3. Collection and production of firewood will be undertaken according to sustainable management principles to protect biodiversity and ecosystem processes, including:
    • Firewood will not be collected from critical habitat of listed threatened species or threatened ecological communities; and
    • Firewood will be collected in a manner that conforms to regional vegetation and catchment management plans.
  4. Information on the type and source of firewood will be clearly displayed and provided to consumers.
  5. Information on correct storage and burning practices will be provided to consumers.
  6. Only seasoned firewood that meets maximum moisture content standards will be sold.
  7. Firewood will be sold in a way that ensures consumers receive what they pay for, preferably by weight, not volume.
  8. Data on the type and species of firewood, the volumes, locality and land tenure the wood was obtained from, and the nature of the harvest operations should be collected and provided to the relevant government agency.
  9. Information about this code will be freely disseminated to firewood merchants, supply contractors and consumers.
Commonwealth of Australia