LAPOINYA FORESTS UNDER PRESSURE AGAIN
Eucalyptus brookeriana (endangered and protected species) Felled and removed from the Flowerdale River Reserve
The sound of chainsaws and trees falling have again been heard in the Lapoinya community adjacent to the Flowerdale Forest Reserve and the Maynes Creek streamside reserves. After picking over the bones left by the clear-felling in the neighbouring coup, illegal wood hookers have moved into the Reserves themselves, felling both live and dead trees. Weekends are the worst. Unfettered access using new Forestry roads made this all too easy for the wood stealers. And stealing it is! As a past Police media release has said,
Police would like to remind everyone that in order to collect firewood, you must either do it on your own land, have permission from the land owner or have a permit from Forestry Tasmania. In ALL other cases, it is classified as stealing and anyone detected may face charges of stealing, trespass or unlawful possession as well as forfeiture of the wood.
Why do we need the dead trees?
This is an often heard response by hard pressed householders trying to keep the electricity bills down by scavenging wood on the weekend.
They are essential!
Dead trees and fallen timber are essential for biodiversity. Dead standing trees serve as lookouts for predator and prey species.
According to the 2003 State of the Environment report, 33 bird species, 22 mammal species and 15 reptile species rely on holes in standing or fallen trees for breeding, feeding or roosting. This includes all Tasmanian bats.
Different species have very specific requirements for nesting or roosting holes in trees. These include entrance size and height above ground.
It takes about 200 years for suitable holes to develop in trees so it is vital to retain standing trees for as long as possible. The dead timber also serves as habitat for invertebrates, fungi, lichens and liverworts. It is a key factor in replenishing the nutrient cycle in woodlands.
Firewood use in Tasmania
About 40 per cent of Tasmanian homes collect their own firewood. About 40 percent is purchased from “back of the truck” sellers or from friends and relatives. Around 20 percent per cent is purchased from established merchants.
How do Tasmanians legally access fire wood?
What you can’t do….
Fell, cut up or remove any live or dead standing or laying timber on any state controlled property, which includes State and National Parks, Reserves, Forestry or Crown land without a permit.
It appears Sustainable Timbers Tasmania is the only land manager that controls firewood collection on its land, through a permit system that limits the quantity to be taken and which is for domestic purposes, not commercial.
The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is warning that unlawfully cutting trees for firewood on reserved land can be a costly exercise and that remote cameras are being used to catch offenders.
Most offences can incur a fine of up to $2600 per offence. Items used to commit the offence such as chainsaws and, the wood itself, can and usually is, seized by PWS officers. Any wood seized may then be given to local charitable organisations and other items forfeited to the Crown.
What you can do….
Purchase your firewood from a reputable wood merchant.
Register for a permit from Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania)
Firewood Permits in North West Tasmania
Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (aka Forestry Tasmania) allocates a number of areas where firewood can be collected for personal use. Maps and permits are available from the Camdale Office and Smithton Offices. Cost is $11 for the standard permit and $5.50 per cubic metre of firewood collected. Permits are up to one month from date of issue depending on the amount of wood purchased on the licence Note : Permits are for personal domestic use only and not for commercial ventures.
North West Region also offers a Gatherers Permit* (valid for three months from date of issue) for collection of up to 15 cubic metres firewood for domestic use, $44 ($33 pension/concession card holders).
* seasonally available – November to April, conditions may apply
Future Proofing our Forests
As far back as 2004, the state government had a Firewood Working Group of stakeholders. It was proposed that the Firewood Action Plan should include some government support to establish wood yards and stockpiling. The Firewood Action Plan was never completed and this idea never got any political traction. Maybe it’s time this was revisited!
Author: Stewart Hoyt, convenor for Forests of Lapoinya Action Group