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Does provision of firewood reduce woody debris loss around campsites in south-west Australian forests?

Smith, A., Newsome, D. and Enright, N.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505 (2012) Does provision of firewood reduce woody debris loss around campsites in south-west Australian forests? Australasian Journal Of Environmental Management, 19 (2). pp. 108-121.

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In forest recreation areas where campfires are permitted, branches and logs of removable size (i.e. able to be carried or cut with an axe or saw) are likely to be collected from a considerable area around campsites, resulting in the localised loss of woody debris from the forest floor and of branch material from standing live and dead trees. Resultant ecological impacts include loss of habitat for ground and cavity-nesting fauna, removal of nutrients from the nutrient cycle, soil compaction, damage or death of trees and trampled understorey plants, while aesthetic impacts also occur through loss of understorey vegetation complexity. This study investigated the impacts of firewood gathering (loss of woody debris) by campers at developed (planned) and informal (unlawful) campsites in four forest reserves in south-western Australia to determine whether the provision of firewood by managers decreases levels of woody debris removal from the surrounding forest floor and of tree damage in campsites. Results showed that the forest floor around campsites where firewood was provided had significantly higher quantities of woody debris (in all size classes) and significantly lower levels of tree damage than those where firewood was not provided. There was no significant difference in the amount of woody debris in forest areas around developed and informal campsites, with the exception of woody debris sized 70_300mm where developed campsites had higher quantities. Provision of firewood at campsites in forest protected areas is recommended since it both reduces ecological impacts on, and increases the aesthetic values of, forest areas around recreational campsites. If firewood cannot be provided then alternative approaches to campsite management may be required to safeguard forest ecological and aesthetic values.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: © 2012 Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand Inc
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