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Charges laid over destruction of wildlife habitat

A man from southern New South Wales has been charged with illegal firewood collecting and habitat destruction at Lake Moodemere, near Rutherglen, in the state’s north-east.

Sunday, 19 June 2022 at 11:29 pm

The man faces 12 charges under the Forest Act 1958, Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 and Wildlife Regulations 2013.

Hume Conservation Regulator Regional Manager, Greg Chant, said “Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers observed the man in the Moodemere Conservation Reserve while undertaking patrols as part of Operation River Gum in May last year.

“Operation River Gum is a joint operation between the Conservation Regulator, Forest Fire Management Victoria and Parks Victoria to address illegal firewood removal from vulnerable ecosystems along the Murray and Ovens River corridors,” Mr Chant said.

“We want to remind the public that firewood can only be taken from designated collection areas during approved times and cannot be sold. We are actively patrolling many of these areas where firewood is being harvested illegally.

“Anyone found cutting down trees or removing firewood outside of firewood collection areas are taking the risk of having not only their chainsaws and trailers seized, but are also risking having their vehicles seized and potentially forfeited to the Crown.

“The illegal removal of native vegetation is devastating for biodiversity. Habitat loss has a serious impact on iconic native species that rely on our forests to survive, such as the Powerful Owl, South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Greater Glider, and many others.”

The man is set to face Wodonga Magistrates Court on 5 July 2022. The most serious offence carries a fine of up to $9,087 and/or one year imprisonment.

In Victoria, it is illegal to remove or destroy vegetation on public land without authorisation.

Anyone with information about environmental crime is urged to contact DELWP on 136 186. Callers can remain anonymous.

Conservation Regulator Victoria