Dear Melbourne,

When you rock up to a firewood retailer do you ask a question or two about the source of your firewood? Or would knowing rather dampen your enjoyment of a cosy fire and the “up there Cazaly game”? 

Every week three B Double trucks leave a station property on the Murrumbidgee River west of Wagga Wagga in NSW loaded with fire-sized remnants of what were once majestic river red gums. On the first cold Melbourne Saturday morning you bought 124 tonnes of river red gum at $330 a tonne. When nature grows the trees that’s a fine return.   

New owners have paid a pretty penny for that Murrumbidgee River station property and your demand will help cover their outlay. Your demand is so great that newly cut trees have not cured and are still too green for your fireplace, so old trees come down.  

These old river red gums were once fine real estate for superb parrots and myriad other creatures. 

Oh yes, the company claims sustainability for their river red gum firewood, and NSW Forestry is involved. 

Would these trees be coming down if National Parks and Wildlife were doing the assessments? And of course the NSW government has removed the Native Vegetation Act, which previously prevented large-scale land clearing in NSW.   

So the upshot of your desire for red gum firewood on a cold Melbourne weekend is the certain destruction of a multi-age river red gum forest on private property and there’s precious few of those about 240 years on from white settlement. 

Natures Interlocutor