The collection of timber for firewood from roadsides and woodlands within the district contributes to biodiversity losses through direct loss and damage to existing habitat, and exposure of soils and leaf litter layers, and can lead to reduction in soil nutrients to the forest floor.
Often people fail to appreciate that through the removal of dead and fallen trees for their firewood, they are impacting on the habitat of native animals. In addition to collection of firewood, it is often mistakenly viewed as 'cleaning up' and reducing fuel loads. However, many native species of birds and mammals rely on fallen branches and dead trees (particularly those with hollows), as valuable habitat. Species of reptile, such as the Eastern Bluetongue, Sleepy Lizard, geckoes and skinks would utilise fallen sticks and branches, whist mammal species such as Echidnas, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Bush Rats and the Yellow-footed Antechinus all rely on dense woody shrub layers with lots of fallen logs and branches for harbour and protection from predators. A vast variety of invertebrates are also reliant on these habitats, including spiders, ants, termites and borers, with some contributing to the decomposition of woody debris and providing food for native animals.
Dead standing trees are used by many species of birds, bats and possums, particularly those with hollows which provide nesting and den sites to species such as the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeets and Adelaide Rosellas, the Australian Wood Duck, Brush-tailed and Ring-tailed possums and numerous micro-bat species.
Fallen timber also contributes significantly to soil health. It provides nutrients to the soil as the gradually break down process occurs due to weathering, termites and the growth of fungi. It also acts as mulch, and protects ‘microclimates’ of damp soil, where soil invertebrates thrive and even assists plants to germinate and grow. Fallen logs and branches trap seeds and also assist with soil retention, intercepting and slowing runoff and assisting the accumulation of leaf litter.
The Adelaide Hills Council does not permit any collection of timber along any Council roadsides or reserves and penalties can apply. The best sources of firewood are from registered suppliers within the Adelaide Hills region, however ensure that the wood is ‘sustainably sourced’ so that you can be confident that habitat was not destroyed in the process of obtaining it.