Over the last few weeks, rangers have swapped their fire jackets for snow jackets.
The first hint of winter arrived in the bush capital with a dusting of snow on the Brindabella Mountains to our west.
For a brief few hours it was a rather majestic winter wonderland up there.
Winter is well and truly here. Given this rather regular climatic occurrence, our collective thoughts are turning to keeping our homes toasty warm.
Perhaps, when reaching for that box of matches to light that fire, reflect on whose home may inadvertently be burning.
Trees and branches form a vital part of our ecosystem providing critical habitat, returning nutrients to the soil and encouraging revegetation.
Fallen timber forms mini-micro-habitat; ecological homes for insects, bugs and beetles that in turn provide a rich source of food for nesting birds in old tree hollows. The circle of life continues.
As temperatures start to plummet, our rangers find trees that have been felled within nature reserves by people in search of firewood.
Not only does it affect the visual amenity of our conservation estate, it can have a detrimental impact on our local wildlife, the native critters that rely on trees for habitat, food, shelter.
Sadly, these people may be unaware of the negative environmental impact collecting firewood can have. And that it is illegal.
The penalty for cutting native trees or removing timber from our nature reserves can be up to $7500—a rather expensive load of firewood.
There are legitimate means of purchasing firewood, with licensed vendors operating across the bush capital.
The Burn Right Tonight campaign is brilliantly designed to help Canberrans reduce winter air pollution from wood smoke.
If you have a wood heater, please burn right by following some insightful tips. Use dry, well-seasoned, untreated wood.
Open the air control fully when starting a fire. Avoid allowing the wood heater to smoulder overnight.
That way, you can make a tangible difference to our city’s air quality.
A viable alternative to burning timber is the wood heater replacement program.
It offers attractive financial incentives to replace old wood heaters with alternatives.
The program certainly won’t burn a hole in your back pocket.
As we collectively prepare for a beautiful bush capital winter, let’s all think twice before throwing another log on the fire.
To learn more visit www.environment.act.gov.au
- Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.