Burn good quality wood for healthier communities

With winter closing in and warm home fires becoming more frequent, Horizons Regional Council is reminding the community of the importance of burning good quality, dry firewood.

Horizons environmental scientist Harold Barnett says burning green, wet or treated wood, or other household items including rubbish, plastics, oils and food scraps, can have a detrimental impact on both human health and the environment.

“When burnt these articles release undesirable chemicals, gases and fine particles into the air,” he says.
“Burning only dry firewood instead creates a warmer and more efficient home fire that will smoke less and emit fewer fine particles, leading to cleaner air and overall healthier communities.”

Mr Barnett says air quality in the Horizons Region is generally pretty good when compared to other regions.
“However, we have some small towns such as Taihape, Taumarunui, Ohakune, Dannevirke and Pahiatua where air quality can be degraded on cold, still nights in winter because of a combination of topography, altitude and the use of home fires.

“That’s why it’s so important we all play our part in only burning good, dry wood, regardless of where we live in the region. It’s also why Horizons encourages the community to collect and store their firewood early so it can dry out in time for winter.”

In addition to home heating, Mr Barnett says there are several things people should be aware of when burning outdoors on their properties.

“When burning rubbish or vegetation it’s important to consider wind direction prior to lighting the fire to avoid the impact odour, smoke or particle matter may have on your neighbours,” he says.

“Burning rubber, PVC, plastic, waste oil, treated or painted timber and agricultural waste in your backyard is prohibited. We urge people to think about those around them before backyard burning and ensure they are doing all they can to be a good and considerate neighbour.

“For anyone who has concerns about outdoor burning in their area please call our Pollution Hotline on 0508 800 800. For concerns about smokey home fires please get in touch with your local city or district council.”

For more information about good wood and backyard burning please visit our air quality page. To learn more about the national air quality picture please see lawa.org.nz.