Parks to step up patrols
Athreat to native animals has led to Parks Victoria stepping up officer patrols to counter illegal tree felling and removal in parks and reserves in parts of the state.
The program has been in place during the past month based several cases of illegal activities.
Of particular concern is the cutting down and removal from national parks of significant hollow trees, which provide important habitat for mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates.
Since July, Parks Victoria’s Operation Crookwell has targeted people suspected of cutting down trees to supply buyers with firewood.
Earlier this month Parks Victoria authorised officers and Victoria Police intercepted a man in possession of more than two cubic metres of wood they allege was taken from Chiltern-mount Pilot National Park.
Authorities confiscated the man’s vehicle, three chainsaws and the wood and plan to charge the man with several offences including cutting and taking firewood in a national park, driving off road and destroying wildlife habitat.
They also plan to charge at least six other people with various offences as part of the operation, seizing a further three motor vehicles, six chainsaws and seven cubic metres of wood.
The Wimmera, Mallee and Gram
pians fringe are home to many national and state parks. Parks Victoria enforcement operations spokesman Chris Mercier stressed it was illegal for people to fell trees or collect firewood in a national park.
“We take a zero-tolerance approach to those breaking firewood collection laws and anyone caught will be prosecuted,” he said.
“If you observe anyone causing damage to park habitat, removing wood or have information about environmental offences, please contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963. All information will be treated confidentially.”
Parks Victoria science and management acting manager John Wright said tree hollows provided precious habitat for hundreds of species.
“Creatures like the squirrel glider, brush-tailed phascogale, regent parrot, red-tailed black cockatoo and the tree goanna all depend on hollows for their survival,” he said.
“It can take centuries for nature to create the hollows that so many of our unique and threatened wildlife rely on. Destroying these precious resources through selfish and reckless behaviour is a tragedy.”
People can only gather firewood from designated collection areas during permitted seasons.
Details of where people and when people can collect firewood on public land is available at www.delwp. vic.gov.au/parks-forests-and-crownland/firewood.