Victorians urged to help stop illegal habitat destruction
Wednesday 26 May, 2021
Visitors to Victorian parks, forests and reserves are being urged to source firewood responsibly as a multi-agency operation works to protect wildlife habitat from the impacts of illegal wood removal.
Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers, Forest Fire Management Victoria crews and Parks Victoria rangers have combined for Operation Hollows, targeting people attempting to illegally cut or remove trees for firewood.
It is important people collect firewood from designated areas during the two collection seasons, as trees and fallen wood outside these areas are crucial habitats for native wildlife like the Powerful Owl, Greater Glider, Fat-tailed Dunnart, Spotted-tailed Quoll, and small geckos, skinks and lizards. Some trees also have cultural significance.
The ongoing operation also targets people selling large quantities of illegal firewood. Those purchasing firewood can help preserve habitat and heritage by ensuring they buy from reputable sources.
The maximum penalty for people caught illegally destroying habitat trees is $8,261 plus potential seizure of equipment, including vehicles and chainsaws and/or one year in prison.
From March to November 2020, 183 people were fined a total of $98,801 for illegally removing wood from widespread areas across the state. These fines ranged from $165 to $661.
Court results this year for illegally cutting or taking trees include:
- Two Warragul men fined $3000 and $4000 each (Mirboo North National Park)
- A Koyuga man fined $2000 (Kanyapella Wildlife Reserve)
- Two Wangaratta men fined over $1500 each (Warby Ovens National Park)
- A Tinamba man fined $800 (Glenmaggie Regional Park)
Rangers and officers are patrolling public land across the state, enforcing the law and educating people about firewood collection rules. For details of where, when and what firewood can be collected, visit www.ffm.vic.gov/firewood and https://www.vic.gov.au/collecting-firewood.
Quotes attributable to Ron Waters, Parks Victoria Senior Manager Enforcement and Regulatory Services
“It’s important to remember that cutting trees for firewood is habitat destruction. Anyone illegally taking firewood is taking a home away from one of our threatened native wildlife species. Do the right thing: source your firewood legally and help our native species survive.”
Quotes attributable to Greg Chant, Acting Conservation Regulator Director Regulatory Operations
“Most people collecting domestic firewood follow the rules and respect the environment, and we appreciate the community’s assistance in reporting suspicious behaviour by calling 136 186.”