The cold weather is coming and the cost of living in Spain remains high. This means that many Spanish families, or people living in Spain, will be thinking about how they can keep themselves warm without spending a fortune. Because Spain is country blessed with traditionally good weather many Spanish homes don’t have central heating.
The result is that fires are a popular way of staying warm during the coldest months for many Spanish homeowners. But where can these homeowners get their firewood from? Is it possible to collect your own firewood in Spain? Here’s everything you need to know:
How Do Spanish Households Heat Their Homes?
According to the Association of Consumers and Users (OCU) only around 24.3 percentage of homes in Spain have central heating. Given many Spanish homes are holiday homes that aren’t occupied during the winter months this shouldn’t be too surprising.
Millions of Spanish households heat (or partially heat) their homes with wood or wood pellets, but these pellets can be expensive. So it makes sense that some homeowners would consider saving money by collecting logs themselves. But unfortunately this is a legally complicated thing to try to do in Spain, and if you collect firewood in a way that isn’t considered legal you could find yourself stung with a hefty fine.
Why Is It Difficult To Collect Firewood in Spain?
The main concern is a question of land ownership. 28 percent of the forested area in Spain is public (belonging to the State, autonomous communities, and local entities) but the remaining 72 percent is private.
If a forest is private it is forbidden to collect wood, unless you have permission from the land-owner, because the logs within that area are their property. Private land and forests should be marked by signage, particularly at the entrance. Unfortunately not all private or public forested areas are marked, so it can be near-impossible to know which is which.
Does This Mean I Can Take Firewood From Public Forests?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question either because the rules vary from region to region and even from municipality to municipality. The best way to be sure if you can collect firewood from a specific area is to contact your local ayuntamiento or town hall directly and ask, as many will not even have published rules or guidelines on this issue. This means that finding the answer you need and collecting firewood with permission can be a very complicated and time consuming process.
Here is a region by region break down of the known rules surrounding collecting firewood from public forests in regions where this is permitted:
According to the Madrid government website: “If you are a resident of a town in the mountains, you have the right to collect wood to satisfy part of your energy needs… A forestry agent will help on many occasions for this to be done according to the technical criteria of the Forestry Administration”.
This means that if you live in Madrid you can remove dead wood from a public forest. You cannot use machinery to do this, however, because of the forest fire risk any sparks could pose.
The Valencia government website states that people "must notify the forestry administration through a responsible declaration of the use of firewood intended for their own consumption".
According to the official Aragón government website, you can collect firewood for your own use if it's less than 15 metric tons. Taking any volume over this amount would not be permitted. The forestry authorities in your area must be contacted at least one month in advance of the planned date of wood collection.
The Society for the Conservation of Nature and Animals states that collecting firewood in Catalonia is allowed, but that you must notify the Department of Agriculture through a particular form - 'Communication of forestry use of wood and firewood for domestic use'. Once your authorisation is presented, the rural agents will contact you to mark the trees that you can cut and the conditions that must be met.
Castilla-La Mancha introduced new firewood rules earlier this year to make it simpler to collect it for domestic use but only for relatively small amounts which should equal less than five cubic metres. You will only need a sworn declaration and the approval of environmental agents, instead of having to request an authorisation and pay a fee as was the norm before the change. So it’s important that you request permission before you gather your firewood in this region.
If you're living in Andalusia then you are advised to contact your own town hall or forestry organisation but it is considered possible to collect firewood in the region.
Canary Islands (specifically Gran Canaria)
In Gran Canaria, the local government state on their website "For domestic use (small quantities): An application must be submitted that will be sent to the corresponding email according to the area chosen for the removal of the debris and firewood and the corresponding permit must be obtained to transport the remains".
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Looking to escape the cold and rainy weather in the UK and make an escape to the sun? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, who are perfectly placed to help you buy the Spanish home of your dreams. We’re excited to help you make your next move your best move!