News

Autumn firewood collection season opens this Sunday

By Anna McGuinness

THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is calling for people to respect the forests this autumn firewood season.

From this Sunday, March 1 until June 30, the designated areas in state forests or parks will be open for the collection of firewood for personal use only.

Interactive maps showing designated collection areas will become available this Saturday at 6pm.

Forest Fire Management Victoria Loddon Mallee regional manager Paul Bates said the collection area at Cohuna would not open until Wednesday, April 1.

“Gunbower State Forest is still very dry and wood-cutting activities would put the forest at unnecessary risk of fire and cause potential safety hazards to people,” Mr Bates said.

“Please remember restrictions are still in place regarding firewood collection in Gunbower State Forest.

“Only residents of Gannawarra Shire Council, Swan Hill Rural City, Loddon Shire and Shire of Campaspe area allowed to collect wood at this designated firewood collection area.

“It is important to stay within collection limits, which are in place to prevent households stockpiling large volumes of firewood from public land and denying others a supply.

“A maximum of two cubic metres per person per day and a maximum of 16 cubic metres per household per financial year is allowed. The felling of trees and cutting downed hollow logs for firewood is prohibited at any time of year.

“Designated collection areas are put in place to protect sites of cultural and environmental significance.”

“Authorised officers regularly patrol parks, forests and reserves to ensure people are doing the right thing while collecting their firewood.”

Chief conservation regulator Kate Gavens said authorities take a zero-tolerance approach to illegal firewood collection, given the negative impacts it has on forest health, wildlife habitat, public safety and the sustainability of firewood resources that local communities rely on.

“Most people follow the rules; however, it’s important for anyone collecting firewood on public land to be aware of where, when and what firewood can be collected to avoid significant penalties,” Ms Gavens said.

Under the Forest Act 1958, people who collect firewood outside designated collection areas or season or take more than the maximum allowable amounts can face fines of up to $8261, or a maximum penalty of one-year imprisonment or both, if the matter proceeds to court.

To report illegal or suspicious behaviour on public land, please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186.

For more information including rules, updates and interactive maps showing designated collection areas go to www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood