It is said that our homes represent our habitats. For native creatures, large and small, their homes are many and varied-open grassy woodlands, meandering river corridors, snow-capped mountains.
Ecological niches provide an opportunity for wildlife to breed, to raise their offspring, and to function as nature intended. This habitat can be a pile of mossy rocks, a patch of native grass, or dead fallen trees.
Loss of habitat is the major cause for species decline, which can ultimately lead to extinction.
To lose your ecological home is to lose your place in the web of life.
With a wonderful winter snow blanket covering the majestic Brindabellas, our collective thoughts turn to keeping our homes, our habitat, warm.
Perhaps, as we reach for that box of matches, we should reflect on whose home we may be inadvertently 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 for insects, bugs and beetles who 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, historically rangers detect trees felled within nature reserves as people search for firewood. Not only does it affect the visual amenity of our conservation estate, it has a detrimental impact on our local wildlife; native critters that rely on trees for habitat, food and shelter.
Sadly, some people may simply be unaware of the negative environmental impact that collecting firewood can have.
The penalty for cutting native trees or removing timber from our nature reserves can be up to $7500. A rather expensive load of firewood.
Across the bush capital there are legitimate opportunities to purchase seasoned, dry firewood from licensed vendors. Best to check though by asking to see any authorisation.
Winter is also a great time to gather around a campfire. Working with our good friends at Koomarri, we have certified bags of pre-cut firewood available from Namadgi Visitor Information Centre. Not only is this a great way to help out the local environment, but it's a wonderful opportunity to support a local community group.
A viable alternative to burning timber is our wood heater replacement program. The program aims to reduce winter air pollution from wood smoke. To protect the environment and use a more efficient form of heating, you can receive up to $1250 by replacing a wood fire heater. For more information on this program visit www.actsmart.act.gov.au
As we prepare for a beautiful Bush Capital winter, let's all think twice before throwing another log on the fire.
- Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.