- Thursday, 20 April 2023 at 3:54 am
The 27-year-old pleaded guilty in the Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 18 April to illegally taking up to 2 cubic metres of river red gum timber from the Loch Gary Wildlife Reserve and illegally driving off formed roads in the reserve. He was fined an aggregate of $1,000 with conviction and ordered to pay costs of $334.
Three other Shepparton men were fined a combined amount of $5,000 in January and February this year for similar offences in the Lower Goulburn National Park in September 2021.
All 4 men were caught through Operation Rivergum on concealed cameras in the reserve and park.
Operation Rivergum was a joint operation between the Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria from 2020-2022 to address illegal firewood removal from vulnerable ecosystems along the Murray, Ovens, Goulburn and Loddon River corridors. It targeted people removing firewood in large quantities for commercial gain and in doing so, destroying areas of wildlife habitat and native vegetation.
Parks, forests and reserves along the Murray River corridor, including the Loch Gary Wildlife Reserve and Lower Goulburn National Park, provide crucial habitats to native birds, reptiles and mammals in the hollows of both standing and fallen trees.
In Victoria firewood can only be collected in designated collection areas during the autumn and spring collection seasons, with the autumn season currently open until 30 June.
This year the Conservation Regulator is targeting firewood theft across the state with Forest Fire Management Victoria and Parks Victoria through Operation Hollows. Authorised Officers are patrolling forests, parks and reserves, and use concealed cameras and other methods to detect offences.
For more information on where you can collect, visit www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/firewood-collection-in-your-region
Information about firewood collection rules can be found on our firewood regulation page.
The community is encouraged to report information about suspected firewood theft to 136 186.