Z-Net Uralla has received $99,957 for an initiative to reduce wood smoke pollution and make firewood collection sustainable

RESIDENTS are reluctant to give up their wood fire heaters.

WOOD TO STICK AROUND: Z-Net Uralla president Sandra Eady champions the Elephant in the Woodlands program to educate the community on sustainable firewood collection.

WOOD TO STICK AROUND: Z-Net Uralla president Sandra Eady champions the Elephant in the Woodlands program to educate the community on sustainable firewood collection.

Now, they may never have to.

Pollution from wood fire smoke will be slashed with Z-Net’s latest project, Elephant in the Woodlands.

Z-Net Uralla president Sandra Eady said the environmentally friendly program could be the answer to Armidale’s pollution problem.

“We’re linking with other communities in NSW that have similar problems, and Armidale’s a classic,” Ms Eady said.

“Firewood is a really good way to heat your home, if you want to reduce the use of firewood you have to help people understand how they can make their homes more comfortable.

“Or in the case of Armidale, swap to an alternate source of heating.”

The program will educate landholders, firewood collectors and users to collect sustainable, high-quality wood.

Smoke pollution from wood fires is a serious problem in Armidale.

Last winter Armidale air quality exceeded the maximum advisory level eight times in two weeks.

Armidale Regional Council copped flak for its support of a wood fire pollution management scheme late last year.

Poor firewood collection can worsen the decline of native forests and endanger wildlife.

Properly gathered it can help manage the risk of bush fires and minimise wood smoke pollution.

Youth organisation BackTrack will involve its kids in biodiversity assessments and learning programs.

HEATING UP: Z-Net Uralla president Sandra Eady, BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft with Phillip Pickford and Brendan Lowe.

HEATING UP: Z-Net Uralla president Sandra Eady, BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft with Phillip Pickford and Brendan Lowe.

Founder Bernie Shakeshaft said he is always looking for training opportunities.

“It’s a big part of our business [firewood collection] in winter,” Mr Shakeshaft said.

“For us it’s an opportunity to continue the training with these young fellas and learn more about sustainability of where we collect wood and learn what to take and what to leave.”

The Z-Net program will receive $99,957 from the NSW Environmental Trust Fund.

Southern New England Landcare and Local Land Services will be responsible for the biodiversity assessment training.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the initiative would improve wood heating efficiency.

“If you can pick the best firewood in the best location you actually have minimal impact on the environment,” Mr Marshall said.

“But, you actually get a hotter burn in your home which keeps your home hotter for longer.”

This story Wood fire program could solve town’s pollution problem first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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