Penalties for modern day firewood poacher

A Corowa man who illegally cut and removed timber for firewood from Lake Moodemere, near Rutherglen, has been ordered to pay $1,000, and two of his chainsaws will be disposed of.

Monday, 29 August 2022 at 7:01 am

The 19-year-old admitted to illegally removing timber on several occasions between April and May last year from the Moodemere Conservation Reserve. Some of the timber was then sold as firewood on Facebook Marketplace.

The man was detected by Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers while undertaking patrols as part of Operation River Gum in May last year.

In evidence provided by the Conservation Regulator, ecologist David Pendavingh informed the Court the offending caused significant damage to wildlife habitat. He said removing timber from woodland ecosystems “impacts multiple generations of species by reducing the amount of available shelter, nesting and foraging substrates on which current and future wildlife rely on”.

In sentencing on Tuesday, the Presiding Magistrate said the man acted like a “modern day poacher”.

The man was sentenced to an adjourned undertaking without conviction and ordered to pay $1,000 to the Court fund. The Magistrate also ordered disposal of two chainsaws, two bar covers, a chainsaw case and a “for sale” sign.

Operation Rivergum 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 River corridor. It targets people who are removing firewood in large quantities for commercial gain and in doing so, destroying areas of wildlife habitat and native vegetation. 

Domestic firewood collection is only allowed in designated firewood collection areas during the autumn and spring firewood collection seasons.

For details of where, when and what firewood can be collected, visit the Forest Fire Management Victoria webpage Firewood collection in your region.

For more information about firewood regulation in Victoria, visit our webpage.

The community can report the illegal cutting or removal of firewood anonymously by calling 136 186.  

Some of the trees I’ve seen cut down as part of Operation Rivergum will take hundreds of years to replace. People need to ensure the firewood they are buying is sourced legally, as often backyard suppliers who are selling red gum firewood have unlawfully taken this timber from public land and have therefore stolen from the community they are supplying the wood to.

Habitat loss has a serious impact on iconic native species that rely on our forests to survive, including the powerful owl, south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo, greater glider, pygmy possum and many others.

Anyone breaking firewood collection rules should be aware that the chances of getting caught are high, given our officers regularly patrol parks and forests and the general community takes this issue extremely seriously. Where appropriate, we will seize your chainsaws, utes and trailers. You might not get them back.

Conservation Regulator Victoria