The Conservation Regulator’s state-wide regulatory priorities for 2022–2023 are:
- illegal campfires
- illegal possession of wildlife
- illegal commercial timber harvesting in state forests
- illegal take of firewood
- illegal vehicle use.
Illegal campfires continue to be a major and avoidable cause of bushfires in Victoria.
More people are using public land for camping in Victoria than ever before and at the same time Victoria is becoming warmer and drier. This increases the risk of bushfires, with potentially devastating effects on communities and the state’s natural assets, particularly over the Christmas and New Year period. Because of the increasing risk factors and the devastating consequences of bushfires, the Conservation Regulator has a strong focus on unauthorised and unsafe campfires.
The Conservation Regulator informs and educates the public, patrols public land in partnership with Forest Fire Management Victoria and takes enforcement action to reduce the risk of bushfires and protect our communities.
Illegal possession of wildlife
The Conservation Regulator protects our native wildlife to support their conservation.
The conservation and sustainability of wildlife is under increasing pressure from threats, including habitat loss, introduced pests, illegal take from the wild, wildlife trafficking, and climate change.
The Conservation Regulator is committed to the protection of wildlife, by regulating the sustainable use of and access to wildlife. We administer wildlife permits, licences and authorities, which balance the welfare and sustainability of wildlife. We have a specific focus on illegal possession where welfare and sustainability issues exist. The Conservation Regulator will respond swiftly and intently to all allegations of wildlife crime.
Illegal commercial timber harvesting in state forests
Lawful timber harvesting is permitted in Victoria.
Timber harvesting in state forests is permitted in Victoria but must be compliant with the law.
Commercial timber harvesting is regulated in accordance with the Code of Practice for Timber Production (the Code) including the Management Standards and Procedures for Timber Harvesting Operations in Victoria’s state forests.
The regulatory framework for timber harvesting exists to ensure that timber harvesting activities are done in a way that is compatible with the conservation of environmental, social and cultural values, so they are protected for future generations.
The Conservation Regulator will continue to monitor and enforce timber harvesting legal obligations focusing on areas of high environmental risk. In 2021, the Victorian Parliament passed the Forests Legislation Amendment (Compliance and Enforcement) Act 2021, which amended several laws to strengthen regulatory powers regarding timber harvesting. These changes are designed to create clearer, more enforceable rules for timber harvesting, and took effect on 1 March 2022.
Illegal take of firewood
The Conservation Regulator is committed to detecting and punishing the illegal take of firewood in commercial quantities from state forests.
Tree hollows and woody debris provide critical nesting, sheltering and foraging sites for a range of threatened bird, mammal and reptile species, including the Leadbeater’s Possum, Powerful Owl, Brush-tailed Phascogale and many others. The illegal take of firewood for personal use or in commercial quantities leads to the destruction of this important habitat.
Preventing the destruction of habitat is critically important at a time when wildlife populations and ecosystems are still recovering from bushfire and climate change is leading to hotter and drier conditions.
The Conservation Regulator targets illegal firewood collection through surveillance and enforcement action, while also educating the community about the legal ways to source firewood and the harm caused by illegal operators.
Illegal vehicle use
Driving or riding vehicles off formed roads and tracks or on closed roads in state forests is illegal.
Off road driving is popular in Victoria and there is a big network of formed roads and tracks open to the public in state forests, parks and reserves. However, if these vehicles go off these roads and tracks, the use of these vehicles has the potential to cause serious damage to the environment, cultural sites, and to restrict access to public land. Vehicles must not drive or ride on natural terrain, walking trails, cycling trails, closed roads, restricted access areas, in streams or on informal single tracks.
The Conservation Regulator partners with community groups to support legal activity, and with co-regulators to conduct frequent patrols in state forests. Surveillance technology is also used to identify illegal off-road driving and riding.