Operation CENTAUR targets illegal firewood operations
Thursday 15 September, 2022
Parks Victoria and the Conservation Regulator are calling for public information about illegal firewood operators in Central Victoria with around 400 standing trees illegally felled and removed from parks and state forests in the Kyneton, Taradale, Castlemaine and Macedon areas this year.
Patrols and surveillance as part of Operation CENTAUR are targeting this illegal behaviour and enforcement officers are alarmed at the scale of habitat destruction in grassy woodlands timber, which provide critical hollows for nesting birds and mammals, which are particularly vulnerable in spring.
Parks Victoria have issued over $5,500 in infringement notices for the illegal collection of timber, destruction of habitat, and off-road driving in these areas over the past 12 months.
We are investigating other possible offences with the help of Victoria Police and the Conservation Regulator.
Anyone caught illegally felling or taking timber can face a fine of up to $9,246 and/or a year in prison, as well as risk losing the items used to commit offences, such as chainsaws, vehicles and other associated equipment.
Firewood for personal use can only be collected from domestic firewood collection in the autumn and spring firewood collection seasons. For details of where, when and what firewood can be collected, visit: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/firewood-collection-in-your-region.
This is a timely reminder to the public to purchase their firewood responsibly by considering where the wood has come from. Victorians are urged to ask questions before they buy, to avoid inadvertently supporting illegal firewood operators and to reduce the impact of these illegal activities on our environment. For more information on buying firewood, visit www.vic.gov.au/buying-firewood.
The Victorian Government provides a range of financial support programs to assist people with low incomes in heating their homes. These include the $250 Power Saving Bonus for Victorian households with an electricity account from 1 July, and up to $650 from the Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant for Victorians on low incomes who rely on non-mains energy, including firewood, and have experienced unexpected financial hardship.
Details of the non-mains energy concessions are on the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing website: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/energy-concession-and-support.
Quotes attributable to Karen Doyle, Area Chief Ranger Goldfields, Parks Victoria
“Many animals rely on fallen timber and tree hollows for habitat. Crevices under logs and hollows in trees provide safe places for mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates to live and are the perfect place to protect their young from predators. Fallen timber and tree hollows also have value far beyond basic shelter, providing food resources and recycling nutrients in the ecosystem as it decays.”
“Information from the community is a key part of our intelligence and evidence gathering and we encourage community members to report any suspicious behaviour to Parks Victoria on 13 19 63. But please remember your safety is most important- don’t put yourself at risk to gather information.”
For more information please contact:
Daniel Brace, Senior Media Officer
M 0448 373 986