Increased patrols to protect native trees
Wednesday 10 May, 2023
Parks Victoria is stepping up patrols in the Shepparton and Lower Goulburn areas targeting illegal commercial firewood theft.
The significant increase in patrols, carried out with support from the Game Management Authority and Victoria Fisheries Authority, will take place around the clock, focusing on nights and weekends when offenders are most active.
Parks Victoria enforcement officers have been dismayed at the scale of habitat destruction from the illegal removal of river red gum timber in recent years. These red gums provide critical hollows for nesting birds and mammals.
Offenders face on-the-spot fines of $740, with a maximum penalty of $9,246 and/or a year in prison if prosecuted in court. Equipment such as chainsaws, trailers and vehicles can also be seized.
The community can report suspected illegal firewood take, including suspicious firewood sellers, by calling 136 186. Callers can remain anonymous. - but don't put your safety at risk.
It is also a timely reminder to members of the community to consider where the firewood you purchase has come from. Parks Victoria and the Conservation Regulator urge all Victorians 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 https://www.vic.gov.au/buying-firewood
Quotes attributable to Jess Reid, District Manager Parks Victoria
“Shepparton has become a hotspot in the state for illegal firewood harvesting, and Parks Victoria takes this extremely seriously. Our operation this year is the biggest yet and is driven by intelligence gathered over several seasons, in partnership with Victoria Police and the Conservation Regulator.
“The offences we are seeing are not isolated cases of individuals seeking to warm their homes- some are carefully planned illegal commercial operations that work hard to evade our surveillance and intelligence gathering efforts.
“Information from the community is a key part of our intelligence and evidence gathering and we encourage community members to report any suspicious behaviour.”
A sugar glider on an illegally felled red gum tree. Credit: Parks Victoria