Woman Collecting Firewood

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN COLLECTING CAMPFIRE WOOD

A campfire is a big part of the camping experience. It’s functional as campers use it to cook food and keep warm. It also has entertainment value, especially when everyone gathers around the campfire at night to tell stories, sing songs and roast marshmallows. As nature lovers, though, a campfire shouldn’t come at the cost of the environment. We all should follow proper practices when it comes to collecting campfire wood and building a fire. Here are some things to consider when collecting campfire wood that I have put together based on my experience. I am one that is big on caring for the environment, as all campers should be. Please keep this in mind as you read my suggestions, as well as when you are out there.

CHECK CAMPSITE RULES

First and foremost, you have to check if your campsite (and region) has a fire ban in place. If so, you’re not allowed to build a campfire. States or national parks also have regulations in place when it comes to wood gathering practices.

Most campsites have designated areas where you can collect campfire wood. Some campsites, on the other hand, advise campers to bring their own firewood. It pays to check your campsites policies regarding campfires and firewood ahead of time.

COLLECTION PRACTICES

Even if you’re collecting campfire wood in designated areas, there are still proper firewood collection practices that you need to follow. The most important rule is never break off or damage standing trees or shrubs. Instead, campers should only collect wood from fallen or felled trees. Also, do not collect firewood that’s located within 20 metres of waterways. Each state is different, so make sure you check the appropriate government website regarding the collection of firewood inside national parks.

NO MORE THAN YOU NEED

Collecting more campfire wood than what you need is just plain silly. Even dead standing trees and fallen trees have an important role in the ecosystem. Native animals use them for their habitat as well as protection from predators. So, to prevent a lasting negative impact on these native species, keep the amount of campfire wood collected to a minimum. Check if there are signs of activity, as well. If you find a nesting spot or see scratch marks on the bark, the wood or tree is still probably being used by native animals. Learn what you can to spot the signs of wildlife activity and what those signs mean.

NOT ALL WOOD IS SAFE TO BURN

If a campsite doesn’t have local firewood, campers are required to bring their own. You might want to save a few bucks and collect wood from anywhere along your journey. However, keep in mind that not all wood is safe to burn. Some have been chemically treated and while others have been unintentionally contaminated.

When burned, contaminated or treated wood will create fumes that are harmful or even fatal. It will be dangerous for both humans and nearby wildlife. It can also contaminate the food you’re cooking. Avoid collecting old wood from construction sites, power poles and bridges. As a rule of thumb, don’t use wood that you can’t confirm as being untreated.

SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES

If you want to keep the environment in pristine condition, you might want to consider sustainable alternatives for campfire wood. Sustainable firewood includes those that have been harvested from plantations as well as residue or by-products from mills and other wood processing operations.

Man-made firewood is also available for purchase. It is usually made from compressed sawdust and can work just as well as firewood collected from the environment. It’s generally inexpensive and good to have with you as it is dry and burns well.

Nature provides us with so many benefits. In turn, campers should be stewards of the environment and preserve its pristine condition. Collecting firewood while considering the environment will have a direct effect on the well-being of the native animals in the area. With these small tips, you’ll be doing your part in protecting the environment and showing your respect.


 

Is there anything you can add? Do you have any more ways to collect and use campfire wood smarter?

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Jake Taylor
jake.taylor@dinga.com.au

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.