In recent years the word sustainable has become a commonly used and often misused adjective.
According to most dictionaries the word sustain means to maintain, support or endure .
- So Is firewood sustainable? And what does sustainable firewood actually mean?
- Trees regenerate or re-grow naturally from seed or they can be planted or regenerated by humans.
- If the quantity of firewood that is harvested is less than the quantity that is re-grown, then obviously this must be sustainable.
- With the exception of trees in plantations that have been set up to generate firewood, the wood used to produce all firewood is 'recovered from various sources of dead trees.
- In almost all circumstances firewood is a secondary or residue product from operations that are conducted for other purposes.
All Firewood Association of Australia ("FAA") members who operate businesses in the firewood supply chain agree to comply with the National Code, and therefore to obtain their entire wood intake from an approved environmentally sustainable supply sources. There is no doubt that significant quantities of firewood are harvested with little regard to environmental impact, or the regeneration and renewal of the resource. As these issues are addressed by both State and National legislation such firewood is often illegal. Therefore the best option for environmentally aware firewood consumers is to source their wood from members of the FAA.
A 2003 life-cycle study conducted by the CSIRO concluded that the amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted from a wood fire is the same as the quantity of Carbon Dioxide that is released when the wood rots and breaks down naturally.