A letter was received at the Record recently regarding the closure of State Forests to wood collectors.
The author of the letter recently applied at the Forbes Forestry Office for a permit to collect wood in the Warraderry State Forest, a practice they have followed for the last 10 years.
To the letter writers surprise she was informed by the Forbes office that the Warraderry Forrest was now closed to wood collectors due “to their being insufficient timber on the forest floor for the fauna”.
The writer was also informed that the only forest now open to wood collectors was the Weddin State Forest situated between the Bimbi Road and the Weddin Mountains.
Following the receipt of this letter the Record decided to check out the situation for itself in the interests of local residents. The Record was taken on an inspection of the Weddin Forest by local farmer Ken Edwards.
Ken runs cattle and sheep in leased areas of the forest and knows the area like the back of his hand. He was the ideal person to approach to confirm or disprove any matter concerning the Weddin State Forest as he is a lifelong resident of the area.
After spending a couple of hours driving around in the forest it was patently clear that the area would be inaccessible to most wood collectors unless they were traveling in a 4-wheel drive vehicle with plenty of grunt.
This is owing to the fact that the tracks are virtually impassable over very large areas of the forest floor.
Large holes have been gouged out of well-worn tracks by the recent inclement weather and any wood collector would definitely run the risk of becoming severely bogged.
Large gullies now run where accessible tracks once existed.
It would hardly be a nice little drive in to the forest to pick up a bit of firewood. Added to all of that, there is not really an abundance of suitable firewood to begin with. It would certainly appear that most of the good timber is basically at the foot of the mountain and is inaccessible behind boundary fences. Every other accessible area appears to have been well and truly worked out as far as usable firewood is concerned.
All in all it would appear that the government has not spent any money or utilized any resources to keep the area accessible to anyone wishing to gather wood for domestic purposes in most of the forest.
It appears forlorn and in need of some urgent remediation work if the public are allowed to have continued access.
Another problem with the forest is that it has been vandalized in many areas with trees cut down for shelter posts by illegal campers and fireplaces created out of bush stone and left abandoned and strewn with empty alcohol bottles and cans.
There is even the odd rusting shell of wrecked cars to add to the eyesore.
The abovementioned letter is printed below.
The claims made in the letter certainly seemed to be verified by what the Record was able to observe thanks to Ken Edwards giving up his valuable time.
RE: Forest Closures
At the end of May I tried to obtain a permit to collect firewood from the floor of Warraderry State Forest only to be told by the Forbes Forestry Office that a permit would not be issued as the forest was now closed due to their being insufficient timber on the forest floor for the fauna.
My husband and I have been collecting our firewood annually at the Warraderry State Forest for our own use with the required permit/s for the past ten years and have seen very little vehicle use on the tracks throughout the forest other than farmer Nealon’s property access road during this time!
Accordingly we are at a loss as to why, all of sudden, just days from winter Warraderry is closed without warning along with their being no mention of probable closure in any of your medial releases relating to forests.
I can assure you that the fauna have plenty of habitat timber on the forest floor at Warraderry Forest who are rarely disturbed by our firewood collecting.
The only forest open to us and everyone else in the surrounding shires is Weddin State Forest.
Many of the tracks (roads) within the forest are washed out making vehicular access to most areas impossible, even with a 4wd vehicle, for firewood collection, I would of thought that if you and Forests NSW were going to limit accessing of forests then the upkeep of roads within Weddin State Forest would have and should have been rectified thus allowing safe travel of which is surely your departments requirement not placing people at possible risk on badly eroded and boggy tracks!
We are required to ensure that our equipment and safety gear be maintained to a safe workplace standard.
Surely that also applies to Forests NSW’s upkeep of roads within the forest they are granting access too by paid permit/s!
Carole and Robert Baldwin