Firewood, Invasive Species, and Disease

In this post, I discuss firewood and its potential to spread invasive species and disease. And what you can do to help keep our forests safe. Let’s get into it.

Campfires are great, but transporting firewood can lead to the spread of invasive species and disease.

Why You Can’t Bring Firewood from Home Into Campgrounds

You may have noticed regulations at National and Provincial Parks  prohibiting you from bringing in firewood. These regulations are in place because invasive species and disease are carried by infected wood. One infected log can lead to the destruction of thousands of native trees which then endangers our parks and surrounding ecosystems.

Here in Ontario, the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, European gypsy moth, pine shoot beetle, and dutch elm disease all threaten to destroy native trees.

For example, since its arrival in the 1990s, the emerald ash borer has killed 100 million trees in North America. Once infested with the beetle, 99 percent of ash trees die within 10 years.

Keeping Our National and Provincial Parks Safe

The good news is that you can help keep our forests and parks safe from disease and invasive species. When visiting Provincial and National Parks it’s important to follow regulations and use firewood sold at designated locations. If you are unsure where to purchase firewood, you can call the park and they will be happy to help you.

Even if firewood “looks okay,” you should not bring it into a park. Wood infestations are not always obvious. Besides, getting caught can lead to fines of up to $50,000!

Burning Firewood at Home or the Cottage

What if you burn wood for your home, cottage, or while camping on crown land? There are still regulations you must follow. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) lays out the rules and legal restrictions around transporting firewood. You can find a breakdown by province here.

Simple Rules for Protecting Forests

There are a few general rules you can follow to help prevent the spread of invasive species and disease:

First, buy firewood locally and burn it locally. Firewood should never travel further than 80 kilometres to get to you. Before buying wood, always ask the seller where they are getting it from.

Second, if you have firewood leftover from a trip – do not transport it home. If you are camping, neatly stack leftover wood at the campsite for the next visitors. They’ll be thankful and maybe someday someone will return the favour.

Third, educate yourself and others about the dangers of spreading disease and invasive species through firewood. Mistakes happen because people don’t know the risks associated with transporting firewood.

In Summary

Buy local and burn local. Do not transport unused firewood. Educate yourself and others about the risks of transporting firewood. Together we can help protect our forests.

Check out some of my other campfire posts: Fire Safety, Measuring Cooking Temperature, and Natural Tinders and How to Use Them.

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