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Efforts under way to save firewood project

June 17th
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Community Board is looking at ways to shore up the future of the Community Firewood Project, which over the past year has delivered wood sourced from orchard prunings to low income households.

Tuesday's meeting of the community board was told that due to changes in funding criteria, the Conservation Plan course at Abel Tasman Education Trust (ATET) in Riwaka is being wound up and will be replaced by a new course which will not focus on conservation work. ATET's previous course students and staff have been chopping up unwanted orchard trees for use as firewood.

During winter it is forbidden to burn these prunings on site, so the call is out from the Tasman District Council's Engineering Services to find some other way of making use of 'crack willow'.

Community Board members expressed concern that the scheme that worked so well this past year may falter for want of some kind of organisationa and funding to continue overseeing the community and volunteer effort. With ATET out of the picture, what is needed is some group to organise and manage the gathering of chainsaw operators to saw up of timber, carting it to a central place and then distributing it to households. This has been managed to date by ATET students, the Vinnies and some dedicated individuals. The community board was a key catalyst to getting the project going last year.

Duncan Eddy said he's been talking with ATET on how funding could be sought and some kind of course alignment worked out to enable the project to continue, but so far to no effect, and he asked the community board for any ideas. Tara Forde, who is on ATET's board, and Paul Hawkes spoke of the need to get further involved, with the board possibly granting some of its discretionary funding to carry the project over until more complete funding could be found.

They said it is important that the project continues as it provides real value throughout the community. They agreed that they would discuss options formally at their July meeting.

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