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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

1 June 2002

First Environmental Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants


Australia's first voluntary Code of Practice for the firewood industry promoting environmentally friendly practices was announced today by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

"The Federal Government's new Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants will help ensure a sustainable future for the industry and for our unique environment," Dr Kemp said.

Consumer demand for box, ironbark and mallee firewood is contributing to the decline of some of our most threatened species and ecosystems. Australian householders consume five million tonnes of firewood each year. When industrial firewood is included the total jumps to more than six million tonnes.

Most firewood is sourced from our declining native woodlands. Around two-thirds Australia's annual firewood is removed from the woodlands of Murray-Darling Basin.

"Some of Australia's most threatened bird species survive in the woodlands of eastern Australia, where firewood harvesting is concentrated," Dr Kemp said. "But their numbers are rapidly declining and it is highly likely that the annual firewood harvest is having a major impact on their habitats. Vulnerable or endangered woodland birds, such as the superb parrot, swift parrot and the red-tailed black cockatoo are dependent on tree hollows. A total of 21 species of birds are thought to be threatened by the firewood harvest," Dr Kemp said.

"As well, ecosystems such as the endangered Grassy White Box woodlands are being exploited for firewood.

"By changing their practices and encouraging consumers to consider the impact their choices may be having on the environment, firewood merchants who sign the Code will be making a valuable contribution to the protection of Australia's biodiversity."

When signing the Code of Practice, firewood merchants commit their companies to ensuring that the firewood they sell is not sourced from the habitat of threatened species. Rather, they will promote firewood from plantations and sustainably managed forests.

The development of the new Code of Practice followed an extensive public consultation process and is endorsed by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, comprising all Australian government environment and primary industries Ministers.

To obtain a copy of the Voluntary Code of Practice for Retail Firewood Merchants contact Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 or see www.ea.gov.au/firewood

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia