Parks to step up pa­trols

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

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