Horizons Regional Council is reminding the community of the impact and importance of sourcing, gathering and storing good quality firewood.
Horizons environmental scientist Harold Barnett says burning wet or treated wood can have a detrimental impact on human health and the environment.
“Air quality in the Horizons Region is generally pretty good when compared to the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Mr Barnett.
“However, we do have some towns, such as Taihape, Taumarunui, Ohakune, Dannevirke and Pahīatua, where air quality can be degraded on cold, still winter nights due to a combination of topography, altitude and the use of home fires.
“We can all play our part in maintaining air quality by ensuring we only burn good, dry wood, regardless of where we live in the region.”
Mr Barnett recommends collecting or buying firewood early and storing it well to ensure it is dry for the winter months. Early storage of firewood is especially important this year as the region has experienced a particularly wet summer.
“The quality of your firewood is a major factor in how your wood burner runs, so choosing and storing wisely now is vital for our air quality during the winter months. Burning wet or treated wood results in smoky fires which degrade air quality, whereas good dry wood burns hotter and more efficiently.”
“You can ensure your wood is dry before winter by being proactive and collecting or buying your wood in summer or early autumn, as it takes several months for wood to season properly. It also helps you and your family save money, as purchasing dry wood during winter is more expensive.
“Burning dry wood also reduces the impact of air pollution on you and your family’s health. Last year’s Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand study found more than 3,300 New Zealand deaths in 2016 were the result of human-made air pollution, with 962 of these associated with domestic fires.”
To help keep the air clean, Mr Barnett suggests the following tips for collecting, buying and storing wood:
- Store freshly cut wood for 6-12 months to allow it to season well for good burning.
- Stack wood loosely off of the ground in a criss-cross pattern to let dry air circulate around it.
- Store seasoned wood in a dry place with the top covered.
- Split wood into pieces 15cm thick before you store it as logs dry faster when split.
- Stack wood loosely in the firebox to allow for air circulation.
Mr Barnett says Horizons also does further public education around burning in winter.
“While now is the time to remind our communities about gathering and storing firewood correctly, later in the year we want to raise awareness of the importance of being a good neighbour in regards to both domestic and backyard burning. This will include encouraging people to recycle and compost waste material instead of burning it in outdoor fires.
“I encourage people follow our social media accounts or visit the air quality page on Horizons’ website for more information about good wood and backyard burning.”