News

Kyabram man caught illegally cutting trees at Mansfield Swamp Wildlife Reserve

By Jared Prestwidge

CONSERVATION Regulator officers along with Parks Victoria caught a Kyabram man illegally cutting trees at Mansfield Swamp Wildlife Reserve near Stanhope on May 2.

The man had cut down seven small trees — important habitat for native wildlife — to access larger trees for firewood.

The man was interviewed for illegally cutting and removing wildlife habitat for firewood and was also questioned about a campfire that was not properly constructed.

A four-wheel drive vehicle, tandem trailer, three chainsaws and lighting equipment were seized from the man.

“This is a reminder that we are patrolling, and we are serious about illegal firewood collection,” chief conservation regulator Kate Gavens said.

“The illegal felling of trees has a huge impact on our native wildlife because it can lead to the loss of important habitat.”

This came one day after Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria’s announcement of Operation Hollows, which targets the unlawful removal of commercial quantities of firewood from public land, and suppliers of illegal firewood.

As part of the operation, authorised officers are undertaking patrols in forests, parks and reserves and use cameras to detect offenders.

As organised groups are known to illegally collect firewood at night, patrols will take place at all times of the day and night on both weekdays and weekends.

Parks Victoria director of fire, emergency and enforcement David Nugent said officers were regularly patrolling parks and reserves to detect and prevent illegal habitat destruction.

“Destroying trees in state game reserves like Mansfield Swamp takes shelter and habitat away from waterbirds and other native wildlife,” he said.

“We encourage anyone buying firewood to question where it is being sourced from, and to report suspected illegal collection or selling of firewood on 136 186.”

The Mansfield Swamp Wildlife Reserve is an area set aside to protect the habitat of wetland plants and animals, including the brolga and white-bellied sea-eagle.

Anyone caught illegally removing firewood can face a fine of up to $8261, and their vehicles and equipment may also be seized.

Commercial firewood suppliers are required to have the appropriate licences and permits to collect and sell firewood obtained in Victoria.

Domestic firewood collection is allowed in designated collection areas during a firewood
collection season, and people may collect up to two cubic metres a day and 16 cubic metres per financial year.

Firewood collection rules can be found at www.ffm.vic.gov.au

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