Seymour Telegraph

Cleeland concerned about firewood supply

- By Bianca Hall

State Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland is worried about the supply of commercial firewood after the state government brought forward the timeline to end native forest logging.

While many conservati­onists are pleased, Ms Cleeland believes that with energy costs rapidly increasing, the demand for firewood is set to soar when native forest logging ends in December.

“Currently, VicForests supplies a significan­t portion of the commercial firewood available for purchase in Victoria,” Ms Cleeland said.

“If VicForests, which supplied more than 37,000 cubic metres of last year’s firewood supply, suddenly drops out of the market, it only follows that we can expect demand and prices to rise further.”

Firewood in Victoria can be purchased from a licensed seller or collected seasonally for domestic use from designated firewood collection areas in state forests. Collected firewood cannot be sold. The collection period begins on September 1.

Firewood collected from public land in Victoria is free, and as a result, there is high demand.

When firewood supply is low, priority access can be limited to local residents, Traditiona­l Owners and those who depend on firewood for heating.

This collection is not affected by the recent changes to commercial timber harvesting operations, a state government spokespers­on said.

“We ensure collection areas are safe and accessible to all Victorians, while balancing firewood availabili­ty and the protection of cultural and environmen­tally significan­t sites,” the spokespers­on said.

Ms Cleeland disagrees. She said free firewood zones for domestic collecting were already under significan­t pressure to meet demand.

“Affordable and reliable firewood supply should be a priority, and common sense would suggest that the government needs to allow continued commercial firewood collection from our forests in some manner,” Ms Cleeland said.

“Victorians deserve a proactive government that take steps to improve living conditions, not enforce political-based decisions like the closure of a sustainabl­e industry that only serves to further increase hardship.”

A government spokespers­on said financial assistance was available for Victorians with low incomes who relied on firewood or needed assistance with their energy costs.

“These support options are alleviatin­g cost-of-living pressures for Victorians, while also helping Victoria meet its objective of delivering a cleaner, cheaper and stronger energy system for all,” the spokespers­on said.

Victorians who hold a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card, or Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, or who are on very low incomes, may apply for:

• The non-mains energy concession, which pays between $55 and $619 per year for households that rely on non-mains energy, such as firewood, for heating and cooking.

• The non-mains utility relief grant, which provides relief of up to $650 in a two-year period to households that rely on firewood as their only source of fixed heating. Vulnerable Victorians may also access the Energy Assistance Program — a one-on-one tailored energy support to ensure participan­ts are connected to retailers’ hardship assistance and other relevant government supports.

The Power Saving Bonus is also available for Victorians who draw electricit­y from the grid through a commercial provider.

▯ For more informatio­n on concession­s, go to: https:// energy-concession-and-support

▯ For more informatio­n on firewood availabili­ty, go to: firewood/firewood-collection­in-your-region

 ?? ?? Limited resource: Firewood can be collected seasonally for domestic use from designated firewood collection areas.
Limited resource: Firewood can be collected seasonally for domestic use from designated firewood collection areas.

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