Authorities in Warsaw have allowed citizens to forage for firewood in forests to keep their homes heated amid spiralling energy costs. Poland is in the midst of a coal shortage after banning Russian imports.
“It is always possible, with the consent of foresters, to collect branches for fuel,” Deputy Minister of Climate and Energy Edward Siarka was quoted by Next Gazeta as saying on Monday.
Those wishing to gather wood must first undergo training and obtain permission from the local forestry unit. The report went on to clarify that people can only take branches already lying on the ground, and cannot cut down trees.
“Only branches can be gathered. At the same time, the collected branches cannot be thicker than seven centimeters,” said Katowice Directorate of State Forestry official Marek Mroz.
He explained that branches should be taken to the local forester, who will issue an invoice. Collectors will have to pay between seven and 30 zlotys ($7.02) for approximately 0.25 cubic meters of firewood.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's government has blamed the war in Ukraine for skyrocketing energy costs. Critics, however, say the conflict is only partially to blame, arguing that costs have risen for the past seven years. Inflation in Poland has climbed to 14% in recent weeks, with fuel prices hitting 8 zlotys ($1.87) per liter.
Demand for raw materials in Poland has far exceeded domestic output since a ban on Russian coal was imposed. Throughout the military conflict in Ukraine, Warsaw has been calling for a complete embargo on Russian energy. In March, the EU nation said it would end all Russian energy imports, including oil, gas, and coal by the end of 2022.
According to media reports, Poland’s wood imports from Russia and Belarus stopped completely at the outbreak of the conflict, and those from Ukraine have fallen by around 75%.
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