Woodyards are reporting a shortage of redgum as more people are working from home and cold weather puts pressure on the supply chain of the favoured firewood.
- Adelaide woodyards are stocking up with alternatives due to a redgum shortage
- The SA Government warns fines are applicable for harvesting wood from public land
- Manna gum, rough bark manna gum, white box and red box can burn for as long and as hot as redgum
The owner of Adelaide’s Stirling Woodyard, Angela Papageorge, said it had faced “unprecedented demand” since March when people started stockpiling firewood in anticipation of staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We probably serviced delivery to more than 600 homes and March is traditionally not an excessively busy time in the firewood season,” she told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“It’s also been compounded by the fact we’ve had a colder snap of weather coming through a lot sooner than normal.
Ms Papageorge said it was a similar situation across other Adelaide Hills and city woodyards, with seasoned redgum supplies from the New South Wales Balranald region slowed by high demand.
“They are forestries that are grown specifically for firewood,” she said.
“With this increased demand the mills are not able to split the wood quick enough to meet the demand that everybody needs.
Alternatives in supply
Commonly available alternatives include blue gum, mixed gums and Mallee wood, with most yards stocking up even if they did not burn for as long, or as hot, as redgum.
But Paul, a wood carter from Penola in the state’s south-east, said it was a “misconception that redgum was the only wood you should buy”.
Paul said manna gum, rough-barked manna gum, white box and red box were better alternatives.
Bruce from Ashbourne also believed redgum to be “overrated and overpriced” and said other woods were “just as good to burn, if not better”.
“And then we have the issue of too much roadside vegetation being cleared and stolen by people just deciding they want to make a buck out of firewood,” he said.
“They’ll go and scab it, even in the middle of the night, take a trailer around and pilfer as much wood as they can get.
Fines for illegal harvesting
A Department for Environment and Water spokesperson warns people it is illegal to take wood from national parks and reserves.
She said the same rules applied to all public land, including reservoirs and forest reserves, and it could result in fines of up to $1,000 and equipment like chainsaws being seized.
“The reduction in the number of old trees in the landscape has had a serious impact on their numbers.
“Tree holes, and hollows in particular, are extremely important but they can take many years to form.”
The spokesperson said wood could only be collected by agreement from private land or Forestry SA plantation forests, or from some road verges provided the local council granted a permit.