FROM today (Wednesday, September 1), firewood in Gippsland can be gathered from designated firewood collection areas in State forests for personal use.

Under the current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, if firewood is essential for home heating or cooking, people can travel to the closest designated firewood collection area as long as physical distancing requirements are followed. Stay as close to home as possible.

Gippsland deputy chief fire officer Geoff Conway said there was an increased demand for domestic firewood which is putting strain on the limited availability in the region.

“Regular updates on available firewood are being provided to communities to ensure people can collect the firewood they need safely,” he said.

Find out more about your local collection areas here: ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood.

As a result of bushfire preparedness works in the Latrobe, Macalister and Tambo districts, there are additional firewood collection areas this spring in Walhalla, Cobbannah and Colquhoun State Forest.

“Firewood collection areas are being more realistically mapped for the benefit of communities to reflect where firewood can be practically and legally collected.

“All firewood collection areas in Gippsland have changed from block to roadside areas where firewood can be collected within 50 metres of a road.

“Please note that due to a lack of available firewood, there will be no collection areas available south of the Princes Highway in Latrobe District in 2021.”

“We are balancing the need to ensure the fallen timber doesn’t pose a fire risk with the desire to provide the community with firewood and ensure fallen logs are still available to wildlife.

“It should be remembered firewood is an unpredictable and finite resource and this is why we strongly encourage people who rely on firewood for heating and cooking to plan their firewood needs and explore all energy options.”

Financial assistance is available for people on low incomes who purchase firewood. Go to ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/energy-concession-and-support.

“Most people do the right thing and stick to the collection limits of two cubic metres per person per day and a maximum of 16 cubic metres per?household per financial year, however, people should know authorised officers will be patrolling parks, forests and reserves to catch those who aren’t.”

DCFO Conway said your safety in the forests is important.

“Please be COVID-safe and aware of the environment around you at all times, trees may fall or drop limbs without warning.”

Spring firewood collection season will close on November 30.