Web_xjfirewood_3913A MAN has been fined for illegally taking wood from the New Zealand Hill Nature Conservation Reserve in Foster. Acting on information supplied by members of the public, Parks Victoria officers interviewed the man who was subsequently issued with an infringement notice for illegally cutting and removing wood from the reserve. He also received warnings for off road driving offences and for damaging wildlife habitat.

Parks Victoria Ranger Jonathon Stevenson said it was an important reminder for people that penalties apply for illegal firewood collection on public land. “Firewood can only be collected from designated collection areas during specified periods. People need to be aware of these regulations or they risk being fined,” Mr Stevenson said. “Reserves and parks around Foster, including the New Zealand Hill Nature Conservation Reserve are not designated firewood collection areas and people must not remove wood from them.” Officers have recently recorded evidence of other illegal activities in parks and reserves around Foster including over 20 trees being felled. Investigations remain open concerning these cases.

“Many of the trees targeted by illegal firewood collectors are old or dead trees that contain important hollows for wildlife. Removing these trees can have a serious effect on the local environment and biodiversity,” Mr Stevenson said.  “Protecting the integrity of parks and reserves is important for native flora and fauna and for the local community and visitors who enjoy walking in and exploring these reserves.” Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and Parks Victoria staff will continue to patrol parks, forests and reserves to ensure people are doing the right thing. Typical on the spot fines are around $577. Offences that go to court may be liable for fines up to $7218, one year imprisonment or both. Community members are also urged to continue reporting illegal firewood collection to DEPI on  136 186 or Parks Victoria on 13 1963. Information about collecting firewood and the designated collection areas is available from the Parks   Victoria/DEPI office in Foster or from the DEPI website.

For more information visit: www.depi.vic.gov.au/firewood or call 136 186.