Using firewood in parks

Spring is a time of new life. Flowers are blooming, trees are blossoming and many native animals are bringing babies into the world.

These animals rely on fallen timber and tree hollows for habitat. Crevices under logs and hollows in trees provide safe places for mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates to live and are the perfect place to protect their young from predators. Fallen timber and tree hollows also have value far beyond basic shelter, providing food resources and recycling nutrients in the ecosystem as it decays. To them, people taking firewood is taking their home.

Parks are not only protected to provide habitat for our native species, but provide spaces for a wide range of activities for people to enjoy. Our job as land managers is to ensure these things happen in harmony, so the natural and cultural values of parks are sustained for the future.

Spring is also a prime time for camping, as the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. If you plan to have a campfire, you should bring your own firewood. You are only allowed to collect dead wood from the ground to use for campfires in some parks - make sure you check the local rules before you travel or you could face a fine. Please be mindful to only use dead fallen wood and do not use standing dead or live trees or hollow logs. Use it sparingly by keeping your campfire small and only lit when it is required for warmth or cooking. Better still, use alternatives like a lightweight stove.

Did you know? In its 2008 report, the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council found that since European settlement, the amount of coarse woody debris (sticks, logs and wood on the ground) in River Red Gum Forests has gone from 125 tonnes per hectare to 20 tonnes per hectare. The main cause of this reduction is firewood collection.

One species that relies on wood being left on the ground is the Fat-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata). This little guy is a native marsupial, about the size of a mouse, that makes its home under fallen wood.

Though they’re small and quick, the fat-tailed dunnart is always at risk of being eaten by feral cats and foxes. Having a secure shelter is critical for their survival and without logs on the ground, there aren’t many places for them to safely live and breed.

Some of the other native animals that need fallen wood to survive include:

  • Small mammals like Antechinus, Brush-tailed Phascogale (or Tuan), Spot-tailed Quoll
  • Woodland birds that forage on the ground like the Brown Treecreeper, Bush-stone Curlew, Hooded and Red-capped Robin
  • Reptiles like geckos, monitors, dragons, skinks and snakes
  • Most native mice and rats

How can you help?

• Leave fallen wood and logs where they lie
• Use a lightweight stove for cooking, instead of a campfire
• Bring your own wood for a campfire instead of gathering it at the park
• Don’t buy wood that’s been stolen from protected areas
• If you know about illegal wood theft in protected areas, report it to Parks Victoria at 13 1963

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