birding-aus Firewood and habitat destruction

Subject: birding-aus Firewood and habitat destruction
From: "Carol Probets" <>
Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 23:00:11 PDT
Hello all,

Today the icy winds are howling through the mountains and with them come the realisation that winter will soon be here. It's this time of year that we clean out the slow combustion heater, order a load of firewood and again ponder the dilemmas of keeping warm in a cold climate.

The RAOU Conservation Statement No 10 "Conserving Woodland Birds in the Wheat and Sheep Belts of Southern Australia" tells us that firewood production is Australia's second largest timber industry, consuming 6.1 million tonnes of wood annually and that "most old trees, dead standing trees and fallen timber in woodlands and forests used for timber production have been removed", which has affected many hollow-nesting species and birds which depend upon plentiful supplies of nectar, insects in rotten wood, etc.

There is no doubt that the best burning wood in this part of the country is ironbark and most of the commercial firewood available in this area is advertised as ironbark, or box and ironbark. And we all know how important the ironbark and box woodlands are for birds such as the Regent Honeyeater, Swift Parrot and a host of others.

Like many residents of the colder parts of Australia, using other forms of heating is not much of an option for me at the moment. Without the fire going in winter, my south-facing house is perpetually cold, damp and miserable. A wood fire is the only way I can make my home livable and stop the mould growing. I buy my firewood in the form of old railway sleepers, which usually burn very well, but I wonder how many years supply of those there are. Most Blue Mountains residents use ironbark as far as I can see.

Is there anyone in Birding-aus who can provide some information on the firewood industry? For example, is most of the wood gathered from state forests or private property? Are there any plantations established for the purpose of firewood? Is a sustainable firewood industry, which doesn't destroy too much habitat, possible at all? Should we all be avoiding using certain types of firewood? Then again, perhaps other forms of energy are more destructive still? These are probably difficult questions to answer, but as a consumer I would like to be better informed and welcome any information.


Carol Probets
Katoomba NSW

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