Collect good wood now for winter

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 both human health and the environment.

“Air quality in the Horizons Region is generally pretty good when compared to the rest of New Zealand,” says Mr Barnett.

“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.

“We can all play our part in helping maintain air quality by ensuring we are only burning 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.

“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 over the winter months. Burning wet or treated wood results in smokey fires that degrade air quality, whereas good dry wood burns hotter and more efficiently. 

“By being proactive and collecting or buying your wood in summer or early autumn, you can ensure your wood is dry by winter as it takes several months for the wood to season properly. It also helps you and your family save money as purchasing dry wood in the winter months is more expensive.”

To help keep the air clean, Mr Barnett suggests the following tips for collecting, buying and storing wood:

  • Store freshly cut wood for 8-12 months to allow it to season well for good burning;
  • Stack the wood loosely off 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 away as logs dry faster when split;
  • Stack wood loosely in the firebox to allow for air circulation.

Mr Barnett says Horizons also undertakes further public education around burning best practice in winter.
“While now is the time to remind our communities about gathering and storing firewood correctly, later in the year we also want to raise awareness of the importance of being a good neighbour in regards to both domestic and back yard burning.

“I encourage people follow our social media accounts or visit our air quality page on Horizons’ website for more information about good wood and backyard burning.”