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Mildura pair fined $50,000 for habitat destruction

Two men have been convicted and fined $25,000 each, for the destruction of more than eight hectares of wildlife habitat near Mildura.

Thursday 31 March 2022 11:16pm

The two men, who are related, pled guilty and were convicted on Thursday 31 March 2022, of 70 charges under the Land Act 1958External Link , Forests Act 1958External Link , and Wildlife Regulations 2013External Link , including the destruction of native vegetation on public land.

These convictions are a result of reports of native vegetation clearing in the area in January 2021.

Following the reports, Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers attended the location and found approximately 8.4 hectares of wildlife habitat had been either heavily damaged or destroyed using heavy machinery, including over 100 large Mallee trees, some estimated to have been hundreds of years old.

The men also constructed a fence across a section of public land which ‘fenced in’ the area to one of the men’s adjacent private properties.

Forest and Wildlife Officer Patrick Vincenzini said the removal of habitat was devastating for biodiversity in the area.

“Native vegetation provides habitat for native animals and delivers a range of ecosystem services such as soil maintenance and the creation of clean air,” Mr Vincenzini said.

“This clearing has destroyed the natural ecosystem, including the homes and food sources for native, endangered animals such as the Regent parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus).

“It will take hundreds of years for new Mallee trees to grow to the size they once were in the area.”

Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens said this conviction would serve as a reminder that those who break environmental laws will be prosecuted.

“The removal of vegetation in this area is one of the most extensive cases we have seen in Victoria,” Chief Gavens said.

“This complex investigation involved a large amount of evidence collection, multiple expert witnesses and would not have been possible without the participation of multiple teams from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Conservation Regulator and Mildura Rural City Council.”

Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers investigate all reports of habitat destruction, including illegal vegetation clearing on public land in Victoria.

Anyone with information about wildlife habitat damage, or other environmental crimes, is urged to contact DELWP on 136 186. Callers can remain anonymous.

Conservation Regulator Victoria

Reviewed 06 April 2022

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