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Oversight of firewood harvesting unchanged

All tree felling will continue to be scrutinised by forestry and environmental protection officials and by national park experts, even after modifications to rules making it easier to harvest firewood, the agriculture ministry's state secretary for forestry and land said on public radio on Sunday.

Peter Zambo said the recently issued government decree paves the way for harvesting a large volume of firewood, if necessary in the event of an energy emergency. Experts will still decide on whether or not to issue permits for tree-felling only after inspection of the site, he added.

He said 1.3 million cubic metres of firewood will be harvested in state-owned forests before the end of the year, and the government is also counting on firewood from privately-owned forests.

He added that 3.8 million cubic metres of locust trees, on areas that are not protected, can be legally felled at present, and the felling will start there, if necessary.

Around 13 million cubic metres of wood, of a total of around 400 million cubic metres of living wood stock, is harvested in Hungary each year, Zambo said. State- and privately-owned forestry companies account for 8-8.5 million of that, of which 3-4 million is firewood, meaning there is close to 4-4.5 million cubic metres of “reserves”, he added.

Starting the harvest of firewood two weeks earlier, in August, will not have any negative effects on the soil or bird life, Zambo said, noting that trees felled now would yield dry firewood after 90 days.

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