Firewood harvest from forests of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Part 1: long-term, sustainable supply available from native forests
West, PW, Cawsey, EM, Stol, J & Freudenberger, D 2008, 'Firewood harvest from forests of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Part 1: long-term, sustainable supply available from native forests', Biomass and Bioenergy, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. 1206-1219.
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The Murray-Darling Basin is a 1 million km 2 agricultural region of south-eastern Australia, although 29% of it retains native forests. Some are mallee eucalypt types, whilst the 'principal' types are dominated mainly by other eucalypt species. One-third of the 6-7 million oven-dry tonne of firewood burnt annually in Australia is obtained from these forests, principally through collection of coarse woody debris. There are fears that removal of this debris may prejudice the floral and faunal biodiversity of the Basin. The present work considers what silvicultural management practices will allow the long-term maintenance of the native forests of the Basin and their continued contribution to its biodiversity. It then estimates that the maximum, long-term, annual, sustainable yield of firewood which could be harvested, by collection of coarse woody debris, from principal forest types of the Basin would be 10 million oven-dry tonne yr -1. An alternative, harvest of firewood from live trees by thinning the principal forests and clear-felling mallee forests, would be able to supply 2.3 million tonne yr -1 sustainably. Whilst coarse woody debris harvests could supply far more than the present demand for firewood from the Basin, they would lead to substantial reductions of the debris remaining in the forests; this may be detrimental to biodiversity maintenance. Live tree harvest does not lead to this problem, but would barely be able to supply existing firewood demand