Fallen Wood: Are You Allowed To Take It?

If you have stone fireplaces at home or a wood-burning stove, no doubt you’re all too well aware of just how expensive it can be to run if you have no option but to buy your own firewood. Not all of us are lucky enough to own a plush pad in the countryside, with plenty of our own land to collect wood from… so all too often it’s very tempting to head out into your local wood or forest to forage your own wood, instead of buying it.

But doing this could actually land you in quite a bit of bother if you’re not careful. Back in 2008, the Forestry Commission scrapped the Magna Carta right for people to collect wood from forests in Britain, suggesting that they buy their wood from local merchants who are allowed into the forest in order to collect the wood themselves.

Apparently, the reason behind the move was health and safety issues. Forestry Commission Wales head of estate management Peter Garson was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying at the time: “We are keen to support the use of wood as a fuel, and the most appropriate way to do this for domestic heating is by encouraging the development of local firewood merchants rather than selling directly to individual householders. We have a duty of care to the public in our woodlands and a much higher duty of care where we issue permission for particular activities.”

It could be considered theft if you remove fallen wood – whether it’s from a park, woodland, the roadside or even your local street – if you don’t have permission from the landowner to do so. If you’re concerned and want to make sure you’re legally allowed to collect wood from a certain area, try and seek permission from the landowner. Alternatively, you can purchase a licence from the Forestry Commission so you’re legally entitled to collect wood in a specific place.