It may seem hard to believe, but it is true, firewood can be deadly. Just one piece of firewood in the trunk of your car could cause the death of an entire forest or of certain tree species in a community.
Transportation of firewood is a common way for invasive species to spread," says Janet Feddes-Calpas, coordinator of Alberta's chapter of the Society to Prevent Dutch Elm Disease (STOPDED). "Hidden under the bark where you can't see them, the insect pests that spread diseases can be moved across Canada. There are a number of destructive pests such as the native and European elm bark beetles, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and the mountain pine beetle which threaten natural forests and urban trees.
Storing elm wood is also a concern since this is a perfect breeding site for the native and European elm bark beetles, the insects that carry the deadly Dutch elm disease (DED) fungus. Albertans who have stored elm wood are asked to please dispose of it immediately by burning or burying.
The Dutch elm disease pathogens, smaller European elm bark beetle, and the native elm bark beetle are named pests under the Alberta Agricultural Pests Act (APA). All municipalities, counties and MD's in the province of Alberta have the responsibility and authority to prevent and control DED under the APA. Under this act it is illegal to transport or store elm wood at any time of the year and it is also illegal to prune elm trees between April 1 and September 30.
When traveling and camping, please leave firewood at home and pick it up locally," says Feddes-Calpas. "If everyone takes care of the forests, we will be able to enjoy them for years to come.