The ACT Government has released its response to the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment’s investigation into wood heater policy. The Government has now endorsed a plan to phase-out wood heaters in the ACT by 2045. 

The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomes the Government’s commitment to phase out wood heaters, inline with the phase out of fossil gas. Wood heaters have no place in Canberra’s all-electric, 100% renewable energy future. Burning wood for energy in wood-burning heaters increases climate emissions, is a risk to the health of our community and destroys our precious native forests to source firewood. 

The Government has shown leadership but must bring forward the target date. The Council encourages an equitable and swifter phase out. Supporting vulnerable Canberrans should be the first priority, the Government has the opportunity to begin by removing  all wood heaters in social housing. Ensuring that emissions reduction policies and programs are designed to prioritise helping our most vulnerable residents and those with least capacity to act – those people on low incomes, with a disability or living  in public housing, and rental properties – will have the co-benefit of building social equity and resilience to deal with the climate changes that are already occurring and increasing. To ensure swift action there must be a ban on all new wood heaters from November 2023, inline with the ban on new fossil gas connections.

There is a strong connection between regional native forest logging in NSW and firewood purchases in the ACT. The use of wood fire heaters entrench and justify native forest logging and are an additional hurdle in the race against the biodiversity crisis. The forests of the NSW south coast that are destroyed to support Canberra’s wood burning habits are home to endangered animals and plants such as the Greater Glider, Spotted Quoll, Swift Parrot, Gang-gang Cockatoo, and many others. As such, the use of woodfire heaters contributes to biodiversity loss. Once our old growth forests are gone to produce low quality products such as firewood – they are gone forever. 


  • Speed up the target date for the replacement of wood heaters with electric alternatives in all ACT suburbs (excluding rural areas). This should be supported through accessible financial support and rebates for lower income households.
  • Begin by removing and replacing all wood-burning heaters in Government owned buildings including social housing. 
  • Invest in further air quality monitoring stations. There are currently only three monitoring stations across the Territory. The inadequacy of this was highlighted in 19/20 bushfire season.
  • Ban new wood heater installations from November 2023, inline with the ban on new fossil gas connections. 

Photo credit: Friends of the Forests Mogo