While some people are probably glad that spring is here and that (hopefully) the colder weather is mostly behind us, now is a chance to get a head start on your firewood for next winter.

From today, 1 September, designated firewood collection areas across the state are open, allowing people to collect firewood for their personal use.

The Department of Land, Water, and Planning’s (DELWP) Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Tony English, said that they are anticipating increased demand for firewood during both the spring and autumn collection seasons.

“Due to a range of impacts, including last summer’s bushfires, we are anticipating that demand will exceed supply in some areas of the region,” Mr. English said.

“As a result, we are urging people who rely on firewood for heating and cooking to consider all options, including purchasing firewood from local merchants selling legally obtained wood.

“In fire affected communities, we are continuing to look for opportunities to provide alternative collection areas and restrict access to residents of certain post codes or local government areas.

“We want to remind the community that firewood can only be taken from designated collection areas in state forests or parks during approved collection seasons.

“Designated collection areas are selected for a range of reasons including the availability of firewood, community safety, and to protect sites of cultural and environmental significance.

“Firewood collected from public land is for personal use only and cannot be sold.

Mr English also said that it’s important to stay within collection limits, which are in place to prevent households stockpiling large volumes of wood and denying others access to any.

“Collection limits include taking a maximum of two cubic metres per person per day and a maximum of 16 cubic metres per household per financial year.

“The felling of trees and cutting of hollow logs for firewood is also prohibited. Hollow logs and dead trees provide critical habitat for a wide variety of native species.”

Firewood collection from roadsides is managed by local government agencies and usually requires a permit. Residents are encouraged to contact their local councils directly for further details.

Authorised officers patrol parks, forests and reserves to ensure people are doing the right thing.

Under the Forest Act 1958, people who collect firewood outside designated collection areas or season or take more than the maximum allowable amounts can face fines of up to $8,261, or a maximum penalty of one-year imprisonment or both, if the matter goes to court.

For further information on firewood collection or to report illegal or suspicious behaviour in public land areas, please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186.

The spring season closes on 30 November. Further information, including interactive online maps, will be available once the season opens at www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood.

All firewood collection activities must comply with public health measures, prioritising the safety of everyone.