Lakes Entrance trio convicted of illegal timber harvesting and firewood collection
2 April, 2012
Two Lakes Entrance men and one woman were recently convicted in the Bairnsdale Magistrates Court of unlawful timber harvesting and firewood collection.
One man was sentenced to imprisonment for five months, wholly suspended for 12 months, the other man was fined $1000 without conviction. The woman was convicted and sentenced to a 12 month Community Correction Order and must perform 100 hours of unpaid community work.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) Compliance Officers conducted covert patrols in the Colquhoun State Forest in August and October 2011 to investigate allegations of unauthorized timber harvesting and sale of firewood.
Senior Compliance Officer, Peter Simpson said the men and woman were observed felling trees and loading wood into a trailer in the Colquhoun State Forest.
“They were observed a number of times harvesting firewood and selling to residents in Lakes Entrance,” Mr Simpson said.
“Firewood was also harvested from Special Protection Zones, which can have a devastating impact on wildlife habitat.”
The felling, cutting, taking and removing of trees from a State forest for the purposes of sale are activities defined as ‘Timber Harvesting Operations’ under the Sustainable Forests Timber Act 2004.
“The timber harvesting operations undertaken by these people were not authorised operations and they were not holders of a Timber Harvesting Operators Licence, or a permit, licence or authority issued under the Forests Act 1958.”
“Anyone buying firewood should ensure it's coming from a legitimate source. People who harvest firewood illegally don't hold the appropriate licences and pose a public safety risk, as they are not qualified to operate equipment utilised in commercial firewood harvesting. This can have a detrimental impact on wildlife habitat and the environment.”
“The firewood collection regulations have changed, with the new approach being about balancing the community’s needs for firewood with the needs of the environment to maintain sustainable forests.”
- Permits are no longer required for people collecting firewood for domestic use (self collection) from State forests and those parks where firewood collection is allowed.
- Self collection is only allowed in designated areas of State forests and parks during two Victorian firewood collection seasons from 1 March to 30 June and 1 September to 30 November.
- Firewood can only be collected for domestic use and cannot be sold. A cap is placed on amounts households can collect, particularly when firewood stock is low.
- Only fallen timber is to be collected and people are not to damage, disturb or destroy any wildlife habitat such as hollow logs and dead or alive standing trees. The maximum penalty for this is $6,107.
- DSE compliance officers will conduct routine patrols in State forests throughout the season to ensure firewood collection is done in a safe way that complies with the law.
- Firewood collection is permitted for domestic use only. If you suspect the illegal resale of firewood or other offences are being committed in our forests, report this to DSE on 136 186.