Firewood collection in Victoria

Many in Victorians communities  use firewood for heating, with a smaller proportion for hot water and food preparation.  We continue to provide Victorians with access to firewood for domestic purposes from designated firewood collection areas.  While firewood is free to collect, supply is not unlimited and there is a cost to make it available to the community. This means firewood needs to be managed responsibly.

Firewood can be collected from designated areas during two collection seasons (Autumn, 1 March to 30 June and Spring, 1 September to 30 November) each year.  The duration of these seasons can be changed if there is a risk to public safety from bushfire.

Looking after our forests

Victoria’s forests provide for a wide range of experiences, support natural values and ecosystems and produce a range of natural resources that include water, timber, honey and firewood.

To ensure our firewood resource is managed sustainably, we open up selected areas of State forest, and in some cases forest parks and regional parks (specifically, the Cobboboonee Forest Park and Otway Forest Park).  Careful planning and rules enforced by authorised officers protect the environment and habitat for native animals. For example logs cannot be removed that are hollow, growing moss or fungi.  

To help achieve a sustainable supply of firewood, collection levels are capped by calculating where and how much firewood can be collected from designated collection areas.  Large areas of forests are reserved and exclude firewood collection to help manage and protect all the forest uses. Careful planning and monitoring is needed for firewood management – if firewood is collected faster than the forest grows back, the health of the forest ecosystem declines and supplies get scarcer and scarcer.

Where firewood resources are scarce, priority access may be allowed to particular sections of the community such as local residents, Traditional Owners, those dependent on firewood for heating or concession card holders. This is managed at a regional level, where we can take account of local factors.

The role of the community

The government and community have a shared responsibility to ensure firewood collection is sustainable. Our role as the land manager for State forests is to set policy and rules for establishing firewood collection areas. The responsibility for the community is to comply with the rules for firewood collection. A well-functioning system for firewood management will help ensure future generations, our children and grandchildren, will inherit healthy forests.

Objectives and principles

Our objectives for sustainable firewood management are to:

  1. Provide access to firewood from public forests where this is sustainable
  2. Ensure fair access to domestic firewood, with an emphasis on local communities and those who depend on firewood as their primary source of heating.
  3. Ensure clear, effective and efficient regulation of firewood collection.

Management at a local level is guided by the following principles:

  1. Decisions to manage firewood will be made at the local level, in consultation with the community to ensure sustainable and fair access.
  2. Access to firewood is managed for environmental sustainability and safety.
  3. To achieve fairness in access to firewood, where volumes are limited, priority access may be given to:
    1. local communities, including Traditional Owners
    2. groups with limited or no access to reticulated gas who depend on firewood for energy needs.
  4. Local communities are supported to transition to other energy sources, where needed.
  5. Compliance requirements are transparent and effectively enforced.
  6. Processes to make firewood available are efficient and clearly understood by the community.

Firewood shortages and prioritising people in need

If supply of firewood becomes limited, our  local land manager can apply rules to protect the forest health and help manage the current and future supply volumes.  If rules are applied, they are published in the Government Gazette and on the FFMVic website.  A description of the rules outlined in the table below.

Management tool

The law / rules

Further details

Firewood collection area

Members of the community can collect firewood from designated firewood collection areas. Firewood collection is not permitted outside these areas.

Domestic firewood collection can only occur within firewood collection areas.

Firewood collection season

Members of the community can collect firewood during these seasons:

  • Starts 1 September, ends 30 November
  • Starts 1 March, ends 30 June.

Firewood collection is not permitted outside these dates.

Assistant Chief Fire Officers are delegated the responsibility to alter the start and end dates for firewood collection within each season in a given region, if there are reasons related to fire risk.

Annual firewood collection limit per household

Households can collect up to a maximum of 16m3 each financial year.

To manage sustainable supply, the Secretary may reduce the annual household limit within a specific region.

Penalty for an offence is 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 1 year or both.

Daily firewood collection limit per person

Each person can collect a maximum of 2m3 of firewood per day.

Penalty for collecting more than 2m3 and less then 4m3 is 20 penalty units.

Penalty for collecting more than 4m3 is 50 penalty units.

Priority access to domestic firewood

The Secretary can grant priority access to a segment of the community in a given region.

This information needs to be included in the government gazettal declaring the firewood collection area, and also stated on the signs at a firewood collection area.

Where there is a supply shortage, Assistant Chief Fire Officers may put rules in place to give priority access to:

  • local communities including Traditional Owners.
  • groups with limited or no access to reticulated gas who depend on   firewood for energy needs.

Where can firewood be collected?

Each firewood collection season the FFMVic website provides current collection area information.

DELWP can make an area of State forest available to the community for domestic firewood collection under the Forests Act 1958. This includes Cobboboonee and Otway forest parks.

In exceptional circumstances, firewood from public forests is made available from depots or stockpiles on public land, for example, following salvage works after major bushfires, if there are major road works, or trees are felled for safety purposes.

Firewood collection areas cannot be established in national parks and other areas managed under the National Parks Act 1975 or in most other parks and conservation reserves. However, the relevant land manager, either Parks Victoria or DELWP, can establish firewood collection areas under the relevant Act when there is a government approved recommendation from the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council that specifies a location (currently the Shepparton Regional Park).

Commercial firewood management

Commercial firewood supply from public forests is managed by VicForests. Consider buying firewood from legal commercial suppliers of firewood certified under the Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood merchants.