Winter warning for firewood sales

The Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria are urging Victorians to source their winter firewood from reputable sellers and report dodgy dealers.

Thursday, 1 June 2023 at 3:38 am

Illegal firewood operators are being put on notice, as the Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria urge Victorians to source their winter firewood from reputable sellers and report dodgy dealers.

Firewood theft from public land is a significant issue across Victoria which heavily impacts critical wildlife habitat and cultural heritage. The worst hit areas include the Murray and Goulburn River corridors, the far south-eastern corner of Victoria, and forests and parks around Ballarat and the Grampians. Sadly, much of the stolen timber is sold onto unsuspecting customers.

Firewood sellers can only sell timber sourced legally from a wholesale supplier, commercial wood lot or from private land with the permission of the landowner and in accordance with the Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation which can be found on the DEECA website

It can be difficult for customers to recognise reputable firewood sellers, so buyers are encouraged to ask the following questions:

  • Where does your wood come from?
    Firewood sellers should be able to provide the details of where the wood for sale is sourced from.
  • Can I get a receipt?
    Firewood sellers should provide a tax receipt with a business name and ABN listed.
  • Why is the wood so cheap?
    If the firewood seems cheaper than similar sales nearby, ask the supplier why.

Buyers should report details about suspicious sellers or firewood theft from public land by calling 136 186.

This year the Conservation Regulator is targeting firewood theft 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.

Anyone caught cutting or taking timber illegally from public land can face on-the-spot-fines of $740 under the Forests Act 1958 or a maximum penalty of $9,246 and/or 1 year jail if the matter is taken to court.  Chainsaws, trailers and vehicles can also be seized if they’re detected as being used for the offending.

For people looking to collect firewood, the autumn firewood collection season from public land is open until 30 June in designated areas. People can collect a maximum of two cubic metres of firewood per person per day and a maximum of 16 cubic metres of firewood per household per financial year. Only fallen timber without hollows can be collected.

Details of where firewood can be collected, can be found on the Forest Fire Management Victoria website.

For more information about buying firewood responsibly in Victoria visit our buying firewood webpage

Financial assistance is available for people on low incomes who buy firewood for heating. More information can be found on the Forest Fire Management Victoria website.

Firewood theft is a major issue in Victoria’s parks and forests, impacting the habitat of hundreds of native wildlife species, which is why the Conservation Regulator is committed to investigating and prosecuting those responsible.

It’s disappointing not all firewood on the market is sourced legally but buyers can avoid contributing to the problem by asking questions about where the firewood has come from.

Parks Victoria takes illegal firewood removal very seriously. Please ask questions before you buy firewood and be aware of the damage illegal harvesting does to native plants and animals.

Information from the community is a key part of our fight against illegal firewood removal and we encourage community members to report any suspicious behaviour. These are not isolated cases of individuals seeking to warm their homes - they are carefully planned illegal commercial operations that work hard to evade our surveillance and intelligence gathering efforts.

Chris Mercier
Parks Victoria Manager Enforcement Operations